Heart and soul: TAG Heuer celebrates the enduring appeal of the Monaco

Classic cars, including a Ferrari 275 GTB
As part of their partnership with Goodwood Festival of Speed, TAG Heuer showed a selection of Steve McQueen’s classic cars, including a Ferrari 275 GTB (pictured)
(Image credit: TAG Heuer)

TAG Heuer this year celebrated its fifth annual partnership with Goodwood Festival of Speed (opens in new tab), acting as official timekeeper for the event. As host of the Driver’s Club, the watch brand also took the opportunity to showcase a collection of Formula 1 cars on the club concourse, as well as showing a selection of Steve McQueen’s famed personal collection of classic cars, including a Porsche 356 Cabriolet, a Mini Cooper 1275, a Jaguar E-Type and a few Ferraris for balance.
 
It was a fitting way for TAG Heuer (opens in new tab) to celebrate its timeless links to the iconic American actor, who famously wore one of the first Heuer Monaco pieces for his role as a racing driver in the 1971 film Le Mans, skyrocketing the unique square-dial watch to horological legend. 
 
‘In many ways the Monaco is the "heart and soul" of TAG Heuer's code-cracking heritage,’ explains Rob Diver, the watchmakers' European MD. ‘It was the world's first water-resistant square case, and the first wristwatch to achieve global fame through "product placement".’
 
The Monaco has gone on to become one of TAG’s best selling watches, and vintage pieces are still attractive to collectors. ‘The Monaco was very much of its time, but also timeless in a way,’ says Jonathan Darracott, newly-appointed head of watches at London’s Bonhams, and a keen Monaco fan.
 
As Goodwood gears up for its Revival event next month, the auction house (opens in new tab) will present a rare piece from the collection of Arturo Merzario – one of 100 models engraved with the racer’s autograph – on the insistence of its designer, keen racing enthusiast Jack Heuer. ‘What makes this watch special,’ explains Darracott, ‘is that it was an innovative movement: an automatic, self-winding chronograph with a mini rotor in it. Then Jack Heuer decided to put it into a square case, which WAS a first time for a chronograph and a feat of horological engineering, due to the challenges of waterproofing. It’s still recognised as one of the great innovative watch designs, it broke the mould, and so has continued to have a special place in collectors’ hearts.’

The Monaco also continues to be a focus for new TAG Heuer innovation, as Diver points out: ‘When it came to moving the TAG Heuer story on again, it was the Monaco case-shape that was chosen to highlight the design prowess of the brand.’ A radical 'belt-driven' Monaco V4 was launched in 2004 (it’s also considered one of the most technologically impressive watches created in the modern era).
 
As the Monaco once again passes the test of time, its history, present and future continue to fascinate watch collectors, car fanatics and the brand’s customers – possessing the same energy now as with its first appearance on the silver screen.

Mini Cooper 1275

The actor's famed personal collection included, among several iconic vehicles, a Mini Cooper 1275

(Image credit: TAG Heuer)

McQueen's Jaguar and Porsche models

Also on display were McQueen's Jaguar and Porsche models. Goodwood was an opportunity for TAG Heuer to celebrate its links to the American actor, who famously wore one of the first Heuer Monaco designs for his role as a racing driver in the 1971 film Le Mans

(Image credit: TAG Heuer)

Tag heuer monaco calibre 11 steve mcqueen

While the original watch was designer by Jack Heuer in 1969, a radical 'belt-driven' Monaco V4 was launched in 2004 (pictured). ‘When it came to moving the TAG Heuer story on again, it was the Monaco case-shape that was chosen to highlight the design prowess of the brand,’ says Rob Diver, European MD for TAG Heuer

(Image credit: TAG Heuer)

Tag heuer monaco calibre 11 steve mcqueen

As Goodwood gears up for its Revival event next month, London's Bonhams auction house will present a rare piece from the collection of Arturo Merzario, one of 100 models engraved with the racer’s autograph

(Image credit: TAG Heuer)

Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.