TAG Heuer Monaco
50th Anniversary

Knotty Nawadhinsukh Words by Knotty Nawadhinsukh

There was nothing else more appropriate than the Principality of Monaco as the chosen venue to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the TAG Heuer Monaco, the fabled Caliber 11 automatic chronograph. The festivities were held over the course of three days during the Monaco Grand Prix this past weekend and attended by the likes of actor and racer Patrick Dempsey, supermodel Bella Hadid, the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Team members (in which TAG is one of their official partners) and along with several other guests and celebrities who represent TAG Heuer as their brand ambassadors.

Max Verstappen arrived in style with the care package
"This isn't just a thousand to one shot“—author can recite all the lines from the movie by heart…

As virtually everyone would know by now, the enormity of this particular model among the TAG Heuer range can be attributed to the iconic status it gained from the Steve McQueen’s motor racing movie, “Le Mans”. McQueen’s character Michael Delaney, the fictitious seasoned American works driver for the Gulf Porsche 917K racing team fashioned the unique timepiece throughout. Thus the legendary status of the Monaco was pretty much sealed. After all, nearly all of us petrolheads got to have the very watch that the “King of Cool” wore, don’t we?

Supermodel Bella Hadid came to make sure Max didn't run off with the chronograph
Actor and actual Le Mans racer Patrick Dempsey made the introduction

The cult following of the blue dial and square-faced chrono was further exemplified when TAG Heuer reissued the very same back in 2009 for its 40th Anniversary which became a sell-out. So too was the limited version of the Monaco Gulf tribute a couple of years later, in black and in white dial with Gulf blue and orange racing stripes and logo which was favoured by its then-Brand Ambassador Kimi Räikkönen.

“Doubly Cool”—McQueen modeled his film character after Siffert—right down to the watch brand
Patrick, Bella and Max joined the unveiling by Canadian model Winnie Harlow (Left)

In hindsight though when you think about it, the success the Monaco received for half a century could be indirectly attributed to the real Porsche 917 racing driver, Jo Siffert. As McQueen and Siffert became chummy during the making of “Le Mans”, Steve pretty much modeled his character’s demeanor, style and looks after the Swiss racer. These included the “proper” way to get into and out of the 917, right all the way to McQueen’s slightly longer hair and his Gulf Porsche overalls—even the same font used to embroider his character’s name. And since Jo wore a Heuer (albeit an Autavia) to coincide with his sponsorship on his racing suit, it was natural for McQueen to wear one as well. Thus enter Jack Heuer who presented to him with the Monaco just prior to the filming—which probably could be regarded as the mother of all product placements for a watch!

First in the series of five in total featured black dial
Chief Strategy and Digital Officer Frédéric Arnault

Fast forward to the 24th of May in 2019, the proceedings kicked off in spectacular fashion at Key Largo Villa with the arrival via helicopter of the first of five special designs that came along under the care of Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen and greeted by Bella Hadid. It was then Patrick Dempsey together with TAG Heuer CEO Stéphane Bianchi and LVMH’s Chief Strategy and Digital Officer Frédéric Arnault who did the honours of formally introducing the timepiece.

Guests got a chance to visit Monaco's famous museum
Glamour and glitz on the yacht for the party on Saturday night

Second day of the event saw guests being taken to Monaco’s very own Top Cars Collection museum. This was followed by a visit to the Red Bull Racing hospitality area before the qualifying for the Grand Prix commenced, courtesy of the Team Principal, Christian Horner. And in true Monegasque elegance and extravagant style, the Saturday concluded in the evening with a party on board the TAG Heuer yacht. While on Sunday for the actual race, all guests of TAG Heuer were given all-access to watch and enjoy the Monaco Grand Prix worthy for a VIP, including a brief visit to the Red Bull pit and meet the management and their drivers.

The "Special One" Mourinho also came to chill with Red Bull's Christian Horner (Left) and TAG Heuer CEO Stéphane Bianchi (Right)
Bella soaking in the Principality on race day
Dempsey visited the pit and met up with Pierre Gasly

It will be pretty exciting to contemplate what will be in store for the next subsequent introductions of the remaining 50th Anniversary Limited Edition series of the TAG Heuer Monaco.


All Images Courtesy of TAG Heuer