You can almost smell the blistering tarmac. Feel the excitement and tension in the pits, hear the roar of the engines, marvel at the sheer speed and performance of these machines. It captures the thrill and glamour not just of a sport but an entire era – the late 1960s and the golden age of motor racing. The TAG Heuer Monaco Gulf Special Edition, introduced this year, is heir to a legend: the Heuer Monaco from 1969, worn by driver Jo Siffert as of 1970 and made famous by Steve McQueen in 1971.
Even without the King of Cool’s endorsement (McQueen insisted on wearing his watch while filming Le Mans), the Heuer Monaco was equipped to take pole position, starting with its shape. At a time when round was the norm, Heuer broke the mould by giving the Monaco its impressive square case and sharp corners. It was a risk that paid off, as the Heuer Monaco became the first water-resistant square chrono in the history of Swiss watchmaking. Other unmistakable attributes include a stylish metallic blue dial, swept by a bright red central hand, under a domed plastic crystal. Another interesting detail is the crown’s position on the left, which would have been recognised as a sign that the watch didn’t need winding. Because the Monaco – so-named by Jack Heuer after the famous racing circuit – was more than a design innovation; the real revolution was its movement.
Calibre 11, a legendary engine
The Chronomatic that ticked away inside the imposing case was another “first past the chequered flag” moment for the Monaco, as this now legendary Calibre 11 was the first ever automatic chronograph movement. Its performance is unsurpassed, hence why it still powers the Monaco to this day.
With a pedigree like this, the Monaco Gulf was bound to get the crowds cheering in the grandstands. The main features of the original Monaco are all there: the 39mm square case with the crown on the left, the petrol blue dial with its two white counters, the red central hand, the date window at 6 o’clock, water-resistance to 100 metres… You don’t mess with a legend. Still, probably the biggest draw of this Gulf edition is the light blue and orange livery, a nod to the Gulf Oil logo emblazoned on Steve McQueen’s Porsche 917K in Le Mans. The global partnership which TAG Heuer recently signed with the oil company, a major player in the automotive world for over 115 years, seals the deal. With its vintage appeal, expect the Monaco Gulf 2018 Special Edition to go the distance!
TAG Heuer Monaco Gulf 2018 Special Edition
Case: stainless steel
Movement: mechanical automatic chronograph, Calibre 11
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds, date, chronograph
Dial: blue PVD sunray with light blue and orange stripes
Water-resistance: 100 metres