TAG Heuer celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Iconic Monaco

original monaco tag heuer 50 years anniversary

In 1969, Heuer launched the Monaco – an eye-catching timepiece that became famous for its unique design and groundbreaking technology. Fifty years later, TAG Heuer celebrates this iconic model with new versions of the legendary original, events around the world and a dedicated book.

An unconventional timepiece that introduced two cutting-edge world firsts, the Monaco was a product of Heuer’s vision and pioneering spirit. Half a century later, this iconic model is being honoured with events in Europe, the US and Asia throughout 2019 – and a new Monaco limited-edition model will be launched at each event to celebrate the timepiece that first caught the world’s attention 50 years ago. A new book titled Paradoxical Superstar documents the historical and technical highlights of this unlikely icon and will be available in TAG Heuer boutiques and on the website from May 2019.

The Monaco’s daring and iconic design has made it instantly recognizable. Every aspect of the Monaco timepiece design was radical, and went where no other watch had gone before in terms of design and technology. Not only was the TAG Heuer Monaco the first ever water-resistant square watch, it was also the first to feature an automatic-winding chronograph movement.

ad from tag heuer 1960s
Ad from TAG Heuer in 1969.

Since its debut, the Monaco watch and the Monaco Grand Prix, for which TAG Heuer has been the Official Watch since 2011, have had a strong connection – the most glamorous Grand Prix of the Formula 1 season gave its name to the TAG Heuer Monaco collection in 1969. No other place and location would therefore have been more suitable for celebrating the iconic timepiece’s 50th anniversary.

Looking back on 50 years of the TAG Heuer Monaco and Calibre 11

steve mcqueen le mans movie tag heuer monaco

When the Heuer Monaco (TAG was not part of the company name at the time) was introduced at simultaneous press conferences in New York and Geneva on 3 March 1969, journalists and watch aficionados around the world were amazed. Every aspect of the watch’s design was radical, and went where no other watch had gone before in terms of design and technology. The Monaco’s daring and iconic design made it instantly recognizable, with its never-before-seen water-resistant square case.

This was the perfect complement to the advanced technology being presented by the Swiss watchmaker at the time. Developed and commercialised by Heuer, the Calibre 11 was the world’s first automatic-winding chronograph movement.

The CEO of Heuer at the time, Jack Heuer, believed that this groundbreaking innovation required a design that would demand attention. The Monaco did exactly that.

A year after it was launched, the Monaco was seen on the wrist of brand ambassador and racing driver Jo Siffert, and in 1971 it shared the cinematic limelight with Steve McQueen in the movie Le Mans.

Strong links to the world of motorsports

Jack Heuer was convinced that motor racing was the right way to promote watches, including the Monaco. He wanted the watches (and dashboard timers) his company produced to be linked to the names and places connected with major races.

The Monaco got its name from the glamorous and well-known Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix. TAG Heuer is the Official Watch of the Monaco Top Cars Collection museum and has close ties to the Automobile Club de Monaco.

From Le Mans to The Dark Lord

In 1971, the Monaco shared the cinematic limelight with Steve McQueen in the movie Le Mans. In the mid 1970s, the Monaco received a makeover. At that time, black was becoming a fashionable colour, and so the Monaco was cloaked in a black anodised case. Known as The Dark Lord, this fragile and rare model was enticing and today it is coveted by collectors. The first chapter of the Monaco’s story ends in the late 1970s

The evolution of the Calibre 11

calibre 11 tag heuer monaco

Heuer became TAG Heuer in 1985, and, in 1998, the Monaco’s story continued with a relaunch model inspired by the original. This time, it was received with much more acclaim. Over the past two decades, the Monaco has been closely linked to haute horlogerie, with other versions that feature new complications, designs and materials. As it has evolved, the Monaco has kept the revolutionary spirit that made it both infamous and popular.

Already a collector’s edition and a tribute to the 1970s

Highlighting the breakthrough and yet timeless design of the original Monaco, TAG Heuer created five new models inspired by the trends, colours and styles that characterised each decade of the Monaco’s half-century history. Emblematic geometric shapes and colours from the 1970s, combined with a timeless Côtes de Genève pattern are some of the features that distinguish the first model to celebrate the Monaco’s 50th anniversary.

Presented on a brown leather strap with holes lined in light brown, this stainless-steel timepiece has been produced in an edition limited to only 169 pieces. The green dial features brown and yellow touches and a Côtes de Genève finishing. The hands are coated with SuperLuminova®. Only a quick glance at the subdials and the position of the crown is needed to recognise this unconventional timepiece’s Monaco lineage.

tag heuer monaco caseback

The caseback of this 1970s-inspired timepiece is engraved with the original “Monaco Heuer” logo as well as “1969-1979 Special Edition” and “One of 169”.

Beating inside the case is the renowned Calibre 11, a modern version of the automatic-winding chronograph movement that made its debut inside the original Monaco in 1969.

A tell-all book about the TAG Heuer Monaco and its evolution

In honour of the fiftieth anniversary of the TAG Heuer Monaco, the Swiss watchmaker is releasing a book that captures the history and spirit of the unlikely icon. Paradoxical Superstar documents the lifetime of the Monaco with archive excerpts, never-before-seen pictures, and sketches of the designs and movements. Renowned British journalist Nicholas Foulkes wrote a chapter focusing on the Monaco’s history from 1969 to today.

Writer and watch expert Gisbert Brunner authored a chapter about the technical innovation that has played an important role in the Monaco’s success. Famous American writer, editor and watch aficionado Michael Clerizo documents the Monaco’s relationship with Steve McQueen in the third chapter of the book. Underscoring the timepiece’s bond with its namesake city, H. S. H. Prince Albert II of Monaco wrote the book’s foreword.

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