Writes author, collector and authority on all things TAG Heuer, Arno Haslinger, “In 1970 at the racetrack of Le Mans in France, a young property master put six photographs of leading race drivers of the period on the desk. Without hesitation, Steve McQueen pointed at Joseph Siffert’s picture and said, “I want to look like him [for the filming of Le Mans].” No sooner said than done, a range of Heuers were brought to the set for Steve McQueen to pick. Unsurprisingly the king of taste chose the most unusual design, a Monaco with a glaring blue dial.

“The Monaco reference number 1133 B is decoded thus: ‘11’ for Calibre 11 (the newly developed automatic-chronograph calibre); ‘3’ stood for Monaco line; the second ‘3’ indicated a steel case and finally the ‘B’ was the suffix for a blue dial.

“Technically, it was not short of revolutionary. A monocoque caseback embedded the movement and had four notches on the outsides at 12 and six o’clock. The top-case held a square glass with a rubber seal underneath. The two pieces clicked in place and made the unusual construction waterproof.”

And that, in very brief, is the story of the square cased Monaco — today a permanent fixture in the horological hall of icons.

Read the rest of Arno Haslinger’s article and the story of the Monaco, here.

Steve McQueen styled like Joseph Siffert for the Le Mans movie, with a Monaco 1133 B on his wrist.
Steve McQueen styled like Joseph Siffert for the Le Mans movie, with a Monaco 1133 B on his wrist.

Great history aside, if we were to be asked today, what is then a modern-day interpretation of the Monaco, the answer to that would no doubt be the Monaco Mikrograph or Monaco V4. The latter of which was by the work master watchmaker Francois Rucchonet with its prototype built by the one and only, Philippe Dufour. Francois Rucchonet was also the mastermind behind the Breguet double tourbillon watch, which saw a recent 2020 reincarnation.

Unveiled as a Concept Watch at BaselWorld 2004, the TAG Heuer Monaco V4, twice patented, is the first watch in the world to feature optimized mechanical transmission belts and a linear winding system. Its bold design is inspired by the legendary Monaco, oversized and square, was first seen on Steve McQueen's wrist in the 1970 film Le Mans
Unveiled as a Concept Watch at BaselWorld 2004, the TAG Heuer Monaco V4, twice patented, is the first watch in the world to feature optimized mechanical transmission belts and a linear winding system. Its bold design is inspired by the legendary Monaco, oversized and square, was first seen on Steve McQueen's wrist in the 1970 film Le Mans

Now the Mikrograph and V4 is a decidedly avant-garde take on the Monaco. But what about a 2020 take on the 1133 B? What would that look like? Not the vintage tributes from last year’s 50th anniversary festivities, but a refined take on the original 1969 watch. That is essentially what is the Monaco Chronograph 39mm Calibre Heuer 02 Automatic.

The TAG Heuer Monaco Chronograph 39mm Calibre Heuer 02 Automatic ref. CBL2113.BA0644 with the black dial
The TAG Heuer Monaco Chronograph 39mm Calibre Heuer 02 Automatic ref. CBL2113.BA0644 with the black dial
The TAG Heuer Monaco Chronograph 39mm Calibre Heuer 02 Automatic ref. CBL2111.BA0644 with the blue dial in the dark
The TAG Heuer Monaco Chronograph 39mm Calibre Heuer 02 Automatic ref. CBL2111.BA0644 with the blue dial in the dark
The TAG Heuer Monaco Chronograph 39mm Calibre Heuer 02 Automatic is, as its name suggests, powered by the Calibre Heuer 02 Automatic
The TAG Heuer Monaco Chronograph 39mm Calibre Heuer 02 Automatic is, as its name suggests, powered by the Calibre Heuer 02 Automatic
A closer look at the dial of the TAG Heuer Monaco Chronograph 39mm Calibre Heuer 02 Automatic ref. CBL2113.BA0644 with the black dial
A closer look at the dial of the TAG Heuer Monaco Chronograph 39mm Calibre Heuer 02 Automatic ref. CBL2113.BA0644 with the black dial
The bracelet for the TAG Heuer Monaco Chronograph 39mm Calibre Heuer 02 Automatic is one of its key new features
The bracelet for the TAG Heuer Monaco Chronograph 39mm Calibre Heuer 02 Automatic is one of its key new features

The updates are subtle, but with enough there to make the watch look bright eyed and of appeal to those who appreciate the classics. TAG Heuer suggests that part of the reason why such an effect was achieved is thanks in part to the newly designed bracelet it’s been paired with.

Explains TAG Heuer’s Heritage Director, Catherine Eberlé-Devaux, “The bracelet is particularly important for any wristwatch — without a good bracelet, the timepiece lacks desirability. For the new Monaco timepieces, we have alluded to its brilliant past with a familiar design and color while reinforcing that the collection is moving forward with innovative new technology.”

The bracelet in question is a tapered one that is thicker at the watch head and thinner as it moves away. The links on the case are of an H-shape with a brushed finish and the inter-links are in a polished finish.

The bracelet for the TAG Heuer Monaco Chronograph 39mm Calibre Heuer 02 Automatic is a tapered one that is thicker at the watch head and thinner as it moves away
The bracelet for the TAG Heuer Monaco Chronograph 39mm Calibre Heuer 02 Automatic is a tapered one that is thicker at the watch head and thinner as it moves away

The good things aside, we have to address the elephant in the room. Isn’t the whole point of the Monaco that it has its crown at 9 o’clock? Well you have to remember in this regard that the new watch’s name itself tells us that it uses the Heuer 02 movement, which appropriately places the crown at 3 o’clock of the watch. For the crown to be on the 9 o’clock position, TAG Heuer would’ve had to use the Caliber 11 movement, as was the case for the 50th anniversary watches released last year.

The crown of the TAG Heuer Monaco Chronograph 39mm Calibre Heuer 02 Automatic is at the 3 o'clock position due to the use of the Caliber Heuer 02; Monacos traditionally have their crown at 9 o'clock
The crown of the TAG Heuer Monaco Chronograph 39mm Calibre Heuer 02 Automatic is at the 3 o'clock position due to the use of the Caliber Heuer 02; Monacos traditionally have their crown at 9 o'clock

The black and blue variations of the watch will be available on this bracelet with the black dial also offered on a leather strap, if you are so inclined. In both strap options, the black dial version will be available as of October 2020, while those who are after the dial version will have to wait until January 2021.

Technical Specifications

Movement

Calibre Heuer 02 Automatic; hours, minutes and small running seconds; chronograph with 30-minute and 12-hour totalizer; date; 80-hour power reserve

Case

39mm polished and fine-brushed stainless-steel case; water-resistant to 100m

Bracelet/Strap

Alternating, 3-row stainless-steel bracelet with stainless-steel butterfly folding clasp secured by double safety push button; Black alligator leather strap with stainless-steel folding clasp secured by double safety push button available for the black dial option

Prices and availability

Black (CBL2113.BA0644) or blue dial (CBL2111.BA0644) with bracelet; CHF 6,400

Black dial (CBL2113.FC6177) with leather strap; CHF 6,000