According to French Google searches, the Monaco is one of their ten favorite watches. And yet, it was not love at first sight. “Too square”, “too avant-garde”, “too radical”… Launched with great fanfare in 1969 by Jack Heuer, this subversive piece, designed for motorsport enthusiasts, boasts of being the first square waterproof and the first self-winding mechanical chronograph. She then suffered a bitter commercial failure. “An object is not born cult, it becomes one,” notes Justine Lamarre, in charge of watchmaking expertise at Artcurial. Often because he is linked to a strong personality who will mark his generation or his chosen field… Steve McQueen made the Monaco mythical, like Michael Jordan made the Nike Air essential or even like Grace Kelly made a Hermès bag iconic. . »
In 1971, Steve McQueen was inspired by Jo Siffert to play a pilot driving his Porsche 917 in the film Le Mans. Like his idol, he wants to wear a TAG Heuer watch on his wrist. “Jack Heuer had sent an Autavia, a Carrera and, because he had more stock, seven Monacos. More easily replaceable, the latter is finally retained. The images of the actor in a white jumpsuit flanked by the Heuer logo and his watch launch the legend, but much later. “In watchmaking, some of the most desirable models of the day were not as attractive and became late successes. Even the Rolex Daytona was not unanimous when it was released, it only became truly cult in the 1990s. Moreover, it was also at the end of the 1990s that the Monaco made a strong comeback. since TAG Heuer brought it back to life in 1998.”
The last Monaco Grand Prix was an opportunity to see the rebirth, for the time of a special edition, of a 1974 version particularly appreciated by collectors because it greatly contributed to launching the fashion for totally black watches: the Dark Lord. Imagined this time in titanium coated with DLC, the chronograph captures the transgressive spirit of its elder, by optimizing its ergonomics and its gears. Embodied by the house’s new “King of cool”, Jacob Elordi, it is equipped with a Heuer 02 manufacture movement unveiled in 2019. A caliber certainly more efficient, but which forced the engineers to move the model’s distinctive crown to right, provoking the ire of purists. A crime of lèse-majesté? “Touching an icon is often outrageous, but in this case the original Dark Lord already had a crown on the right. A coquetry linked to its manual winding movement, unlike the other versions,” specifies Justine Lamarre. Watchmaking is a matter for connoisseurs.