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TAG Heuer Monaco: most mythical square watches... 40 years of legend

Forty years ago, TAG Heuer launched simultaneously in Geneva and in New York, one of her future Bestsellers: the mythical square chronograph called Monaco. A piece that went directly into legend when Steve McQueen carried during the shooting of the film Le Mans. While the watch brand of the LVMH group re-released model (equipped with calibre 11) origin in 1,000 copies only, let's go back to 'favourite of the automotive world watch.

Launched simultaneously in Geneva and New York on March 3, 1969, the Monaco was like a hurricane in the world of watchmaking. The provocative aspect of the watch with its bright red second hand, its metallic blue dial, its curved glass and its large case cut at right angles, broke completely with the aesthetic codes of traditional watchmaking at the time.

Just as innovative, its technology offered a perfect seal, a first for a watch square. But the revolution was mainly based in the heart of the: the famous Chronomatic Calibre 11, the first self-winding chronograph with microrotor, so precise that it remains at the forefront of professional chronometric instruments.

For Le Mans, American actor Steve McQueen was inspired by his friend Jo Siffert, the famous Swiss rider who, in 1969, became the first racer to be sponsored by a watch brand, Heuer. The Heuer Monaco had been released and so impressed McQueen that he insisted on wearing in the film. The Monaco became the chronograph preferred the world of motor racing and fashion - another first world.

Its special geometry initiated the vogue of watches "to form". Instantly identifiable, often copied but never equalled, "McQueen Monaco" (1133B model) is one of the most coveted watches on the international market for the used parts. The request is far superior to the offer: he did remain more than some, all in the hands of savvy collectors...

Since then, the dial square Monaco ceased to embody the innovative aesthetics of TAG Heuer. Reissued in 1998 in series limited to 5,000 copies, she was entirely redesigned in 2003, and equipped with a bracelet of seven rows of square links steel, recalling the bold geometry of the housing. The Watch has become a must for racing enthusiasts and collectors, but, against all odds, also broke in Hollywood and the world of haute couture in imposing itself as an essential fashion accessory.

In the context of this event announcement, we decided to not leave a single model, but a complete range to satisfy all market segments. We needed a Carrera model, and also the Autavia, a bit heavier with its rotating bezel, for our automotive public and aviation. But we came to realize that we also needed to completely renew the design of our chronographs. In the 1960s, all our Chronographs were tight. Until then, our watches were round, square boxes or barrel may not be watertight.

It is a manufacturer of housings, Piquerez, showed us his new sealing system for square boxes - one with the four pins that attach to the back of the box, and which, by the voltage becomes tight. It was a completely new, patented and innovative technique, and we negociames with Piquerez for exclusivity of all applications on chronographs. We knew that the design would be avant-garde, but after all, it was not only the first automatic Chronograph, but one of the first water-resistant square watches.

Heuer Watches were worn by Jo Siffert, Swiss pilot of the 24 hours of le Mans and formula 1, which became our first official Ambassador. For the Porsche 917 driving scenes, McQueen wanted to remain as faithful as possible to the universe of auto racing, and insisted that service of props from the movie gives him the full holding of Jo Siffert, which of course included a Heuer chronograph. The privileged place of the Monaco on the wrist of the actor helped create his legend, but it is the special design of the chronograph and the resolutely innovative side of the casing - both outside and inside - which fit stand out from the crowd.

This new model being resolutely avant-garde, we had to find him a name that frequents a chic public and top-of-range, a public accustomed to places like Monte-Carlo who, at the time of the Grace Kelly years, were very popular. However, we had already developed the watch Monte Carlo (the famous stopwatch "dashboard"), with its 12-hour dial, and we therefore decided to create the Monaco, that would attract a prestigious audience.

At the launch of the Monaco, we were very worried because of its particularly daring design! But as it was part of a trio, most of our retail customers buying three models, which immediately made him good publicity. It was bought by architects and actors, and of course, the fact that it has been worn by Steve McQueen in the film Le Mans made him both rebel and prestigious image. In other words, we reached the public that we had hoped! Personally, I like its original design and race - design that coincides perfectly with our corporate philosophy, which is to depart from the beaten path.