Ten Essential Luxury Watches – Watch Number 3
TAG Heuer Monaco
No man can go wrong with a TAG Heuer Monaco. It’s not so much that the watch is a feat of haute horology, although it certainly broke some rules and it’s a sound enough piece of precision timekeeping, it’s just that it is indelibly linked to one of the coolest men who ever walked planet earth. Steve McQueen. Whole coffee table books have been written about how effortlessly stylish Steve McQueen was, and this is the watch he actually wore in the movie Le Mans.
The watch was first introduced in 1969 in honour of the Monaco Grand Prix. The year before Steve McQueen had appeared in the action thriller Bullitt, with electrifying full throttle car chases through the streets of San Francisco. No wonder TAG Heuer wanted Steve McQueen to wear one of their watches after the success of that movie.
At the time of the Monaco’s introduction it was hailed as the first square shaped watch with a water resistant case. It also happened to be the world’s first square shaped chronograph. It was not actually created specifically for Steve McQueen, it had been around just a year before it was selected to appear in the movie, but the watch was introduced at a time when Mr. McQueen was one of the most bankable stars in Hollywood.
Probably because the movie starred Steve McQueen, Le Mans is regarded as an iconic motor racing film, and you can bet that upon seeing it, several wannabe boy racers went ga ga for the watch he wore. And why not.
Today, TAG Heuer has managed to make an almost separate industry purely out of the Monaco and its legion of fans. It is a complete collection, one of the latest models of which is the MONACO V4 with a belt driven transmission. Forty years later, and men (and even a few women still lust after this watch).
There are today numerous designs in the Monaco range, and yes, even women have started to wear them. The basic models in the Monaco range are the Automatic Chronograph, Automatic, Sixty-Nine, and LS. You may want to go looking at the other options and the other dial colours but what you really want is the Monaco Automatic Chronograph with the Calibre 12 movement. This is the one Steve McQueen wore, and anything else is just not quite the same.
Why does the Monaco earn its place in the list of Ten Essential Luxury Watches? Steve McQueen aside, the brand also has an excellent heritage. Founded in 1860, it specialised in the creation of sports watches as well as and high-end chronographs.
These well conceived chronographs were specially designed for automobiles and aircraft. TAG Heuer also designed the oscillating pinion which is used to create mechanical chronographs by watchmakers.
Somewhere out there is probably a TAG Heuer Monaco wearers club, if you are looking for exclusivity in your watch wear, this is probably not your watch, but if you seek the charisma, the cool and joy of owning a real piece of contemporary horological history, you really should have a Monaco Steve McQueen edition (Tag Heuer Monaco Chronograph CAW2111.FC6183) in your collection. It’s not arbitrary, it’s compulsory. You should be able to acquire one for around $5,500.
Ten Essential Luxury Watches – Synopsis:
1. The Rolex Day-Date President
2. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore “Bumblebee”
3. TAG Heuer Monaco
4. Omega Seamaster 300 M Co-Axial 41MM
5. Cartier Tank
6. Breitling Chronomat 44 Flying Fish
7. Panerai Radiomir 1940 3 Days – 47mm PAM 00514
8. IWC Da Vinci Automatic
9. Patek Philippe Calatrava
10. Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 5711