October 29, 2019 - Authored By: Dale E. Malick
So, who does not like Steve McQueen?
McQueen, aka, "The King of Cool", not only was an iconic actor, but also a world class motorsport enthusiast.
His legendary movies, such as Bullitt and subsequently Le Mans, made the “King of Cool” a permanent fixture in Hollywood and motorsports.
McQueen, who was an avid collector of fine automobile sports cars, was always spotted driving his Porsche 911S or Jaguar XKSS around the California scenic roadways. Steve McQueen exhibited masculinity and his "cool factor" was the envy of all men.
It was during the 1971 movie, Le Mans, that McQueen showcased one of the world's most iconic watches, the Heuer Monaco. McQueen wore the watch to accessorize his character’s persona, Michael Delaney.
The Heuer Monaco was soon to be known as the “Steve McQueen Monaco”. The Monaco went through many renditions, and was even discontinued in the mid 1970's, before being reissued in the year 1998. Nevertheless, it ultimately kept true to its same original style and design.
The Monaco was originally introduced by Heuer in 1969 in honor of the Monaco Grand Prix. It was revolutionary for being the first square cased chronograph watch that featured an automatic movement.
The Monaco was powered by the Chronomatic Calibre 11 automatic movement and was also the first water-resistant square case watch. Subsequently, in 1971, Heuer replaced the Calibre 11 movement with the Calibre 12. The Calibre 12 movement improved the limited efficiency of the micro-rotor and increased the strength of the main spring.
The original Monaco had a case size of 39mm. It had round pushers with fluted edges and the crown was on the left-hand side of the watch. This configuration was required with the Chronomatic movement. The Monaco, reference 1133B, did not have a continuous second hand. Compared to some of its contemporaries, the dial was a muted, pale blue, it featured red-tipped hands and had black sub-dial hands with red 5 minute markers. It had a bordered date window at the 6 o'clock position.
The case back of the Monaco was engraved with the words "Tool 033". Tool 033 was the specific tool used and needed to open the case. Prior to the Monaco’s discontinuation in 1975, it was estimated that 4,500 units of the various Monaco references were produced.
The Monaco was later re-introduced by TAG Heuer in 1997. The first re-editions were only available in a black dial and it wasn’t until the year 2003, that Monaco enthusiasts could once again purchase their beloved Monaco in the iconic blue color dial.
The TAG Heuer Monaco, reference number, CW2113-0 has a 38mm stainless steel case (1mm smaller in diameter compared to the original). The “0” in the reference number indicates that the watch can be fitted with a bracelet. It is powered by the Calibre 17 automatic movement which is based on the ETA 2894-2 movement.
The dial is a more vibrant blue in color. Personally, I preferred the pale, muted blue. The CW2113 has a domed plexiglass crystal and a closed case back. It has silver indices and markers and 2 sub-dials, like the original, but the sub-dial hands are red. The sub-dial at the 3 o’clock position features constant seconds (unlike the original’s 30 minute counter) and the sub-dial at the 9 o’clock position is a 30 minute counter (once again, unlike the original’s 12 hour counter). The sweeping chronograph hand is red and there is a date window at the 6 o’clock position, both like the original. However, the date window is lacking the pronounced silver border. Needless to say, these two features are about the only thing CW2113 has in common with the 1133B (besides the obvious square case shape and design layout).
If I had a mulligan, I would have purchased reference number CAW211P.FC6356 (even though the case size grew by 1mm). Mainly because of the dial color and the nostalgia of the crown being positioned on the left-hand side of the case. Not to mention, the diamond polished horizontal hour indices, red tip hands, black sub-dial hand, bordered date window and the return of the vintage Heuer logo. In my humble opinion, these styling cues alone, single-handedly position the Monaco, reference number CAW211P.FC6356, as a loyal reissue to the original Heuer Monaco 1133B.
With its undeniable motorsport history, should the Monaco be coined as a true sports watch? This is a question that I struggle with. For me, a sports watch is usually fitted with a bracelet or rubber strap and is water resistant to at least 100 meters. At the same time, the Monaco is definitely not a dress watch, as the case is too thick (13mm) to easily slide underneath a dress cuff.
So, how do we categorize the Monaco? Well, it has a beautiful glowing blue dial and a traditional square case shape, much like a luxury dress watch. However, with it's motorsport history and predominantly large case size, squarely supports the case that the Monaco is a sports watch. So, keeping true with its automotive inspired heritage, I think the Monaco is the ideal “Crossover” watch. Much like the Porsche Macan. The perfect combination between Porsche's luxury 4 door sedan, the Panamera and it's full size SUV, the Cayenne.
In the end, I love the watch. I only wish I waited for reference number CAW211P.FC6356 or better yet, saved my money and purchased the 1133B. Anyway, I am proud to have the Monaco in my watch collection and I highly recommend the Monaco to be in everybody's collection; no matter the reference number. Having said that, it is a solid 8.
Article Written By: Dale E. Malick Founder & CEO of Watch2Wear
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