TAG Heuer Monaco 1969 re-release: Monaco Caliber 11 Chronograph

By | December 29, 2015

Launched simultaneously in Geneva and New York on March 3 1969, the Heuer Monaco was the first square, water-resistant automatic chronograph watch in the history of Swiss watchmaking. Named by Jack Heuer following the Monaco Grand Prix (for which TAG Heuer is still a partner), the watch represented a complete break from the aesthetic codes of traditional watchmaking, with its large square case, metallic blue dial, bright red minute hand, domed plastic crystal and, most notably, its crown positioned on the left which, at the time, meant that the watch did not need winding.

Its technology offered perfect water resistance – a first for a square watch. However, the origins of the revolution lay inside the watch: the famous Chronomatic Caliber 11, which was the first automatic chronograph movement offered for sale in the history of watchmaking.

With its track début in 1970, on the wrist of the Swiss driver Jo Siffert (the first racing driver to be sponsored by a watch brand – Heuer), the following year it enjoyed the limelight on the silver screen with Steve McQueen, who insisted on wearing it during filming for Le Mans in 1971.

TAG Heuer Monaco 1969 re-release: Monaco Caliber 11 ChronographTAG Heuer Monaco 1969 re-release: Monaco Caliber 11 Chronograph

Instantly recognizable and often copied, the “McQueen Monaco” (1133B model) has since become a much coveted watch on the auction and collectors’ circuit.

The 39 mm size, the crown on the left, the hallmark petroleum blue dial with two white counters, the date window at 6 o’clock, the diamond-polished horizontal hour indices, the inscribed vintage Heuer logo, the calibre 11 automatic chronograph with date and water-resistance to 100 meters – all the attributes of the Monaco.

The three-part steel case (since 1998), is slightly more square on the 2015 version, and closed with 4 screws; the two push-pieces at 2 and 4 o’clock are rectangular, the lugs a little larger, its calfskin strap perforated, the sapphire crystal  (since 2009) and an open case-back which reveals the gears of the caliber are all features of the updated version. A beautiful interpretation that respects the iconic heritage of the La Chaux-de-Fonds manufacture.

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