TAG Heuer

Monaco: the Valhalla for lovers of all things luxury, motorsport, and automobile. Home to the most exciting and prestigious racing event there is and the namesake of the TAG Heuer Monaco. This year sees the 80th edition of the historic Monaco Grand Prix, and to celebrate, TAG Heuer is adding three new editions to its Monaco lineup.

The Monaco was first released in 1969 as one of three game-changing automatic chronographs featuring the new Calibre 11 (Chronomatic) movement. At the time, the Heuer Carrera was the hero, a firm flagpole in the watch arena and the making of Heuer as one of the 20th century’s finest designers. It represented a shift in the business of Heuer, targeting a more lifestyle consumer with its architecture and furniture design-inspired curves. While the square-faced Monaco looks remarkably different in form, it is derived from the same design cues but took the lifestyle angle to another level. Placed in context with the designs Heuer’s contemporaries and heroes like Eames, Rams, Niemeyer, and Van Der Rohe were putting out in the mid-century, the Monaco slots in perfectly with its minimal stainless steel encasing a pared-back face. It also retains Heuer’s love for motorsports, with the obvious ode being the name. The Carrera was a reference to the most exciting, adrenaline-fueled race of the past; the Monaco took its name from the most exciting but also most luxurious and glamour-injected race of the present. To create a watch to live up to the spectacle of its namesake, Heuer desired to make something avant-garde.

With the world’s first waterproof, automatic chronograph in a square casing, he certainly achieved it. A huge jump in horology, what Heuer did, impossibly, was make the smoothest square you have ever seen. This is Heuer’s Wassily Chair. Sharp but smooth, it owes its rounded square effect to the fact that the flanks of the case are ever so slightly curved, as are the corners of the sub-dials bringing a sublime contrast between sharp lines and smooth curves within the face.

The reason a square-cased timepiece looks so normal now is because of Heuer. At the time, it was definitely an unusual statement piece. The Monaco continued Heuer’s less is more ethos when it came to chronographs, making every dial as legible as possible to the racers that would wear it. Whilst the Carrera was a lesson in mid-century minimalism and style, the Monaco looked fast, futuristic, and new wave. A worthy timepiece for the Monaco F1 race it was named after.

When you talk about the Monaco you have to talk about Steve McQueen. Heuer had ingeniously pulled in the ambassadorial services of F1 driver Jo Siffert to promote the brand during the ‘60s. Siffert was not any ordinary driver but a true style icon of the pit lane. During the filming of “Le Mans'' starring McQueen, Siffert was reportedly on set to advise McQueen, and his TAG Heuer endorsement caught the eye of the actor. And so the famed appearance of the Monaco on McQueen’s wrist and the TAG Heuer patch on his racing jacket happened from an organic appreciation and a node to authenticity rather than any paid placements. Despite bringing the watch to the eyes of millions several years after its initial release, to say the McQueen effect is what made the Monaco a winner would be an injustice to the modernist, forward-thinking, and timelessly stylish timepiece the Monaco is. Certainly, its ‘70s to ‘90s popularity was heavily influenced by the style legend but post-2000s the actor’s influence on popular and menswear culture wained, and yet the Monaco remained an icon.

Since its initial release the Monaco has undergone several subtle yet important updates such as the Calibre 360 movement, capable of measuring time with accuracy up to 1/100th of a second, but its core design has remained. For the race's 80th anniversary, TAG Heuer is releasing what is the watch’s biggest reinvention yet: a skeleton dial that uncovers the inner workings of the Monaco for the first time. The TAG Heuer Monaco Skeleton comes in three choices of dial all linked to the timepiece’s racing heritage. The first is a blue iteration that pays homage to the original 1969 TAG Heuer Monaco blue dial. The second in Racing Red is a subtle nod to the speed and adrenaline of a race in full motion, referencing the sparks made on the tracks. The third rendition is in turquoise, a direct reference to the Monaco coastline.

Through the skeleton dial, you can view the in-house Heuer 02 movement that uses a column wheel to activate the chronograph with an 80-hour power reserve. Upon flipping the watch over, you will notice the engraved oscillating mass peering through a sapphire-encased back.

Bringing Monaco firmly into the 21st Century is the sandblasted titanium Grade 2 case. Now a signature of TAG Heuer, the material offers strength and corrosion resistance whilst being super lightweight. Little details that pay tribute to Heuer’s desire for the Monaco to be an avant-garde piece continue in the form of Blade Runnner-esque luminescent and Super-LuminNova treatments, carved indexes and hands for visibility in any light plus rubber and leather bi-material straps adding to the comfort levels of the wearer. The TAG Heuer Monaco Skeleton also introduces another first to the model with a date window adding to the model's collectability and uniqueness.

You can buy the new TAG Heuer Monaco Skeleton, here.

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