As much as it represents one of the most important technical breakthroughs in modern watchmaking when it was launched in 1969 as the world’s first automatic chronograph, the Heuer Monaco is also a style icon in its own right, as the first water resistant watch in a square case. Its style credentials were elevated in no small part to cult status when Steve McQueen wore a Monaco in the 1971 movie Le Mans, and the watch remains among the most distinctive looking to this day, instantly recognisable even across a room.

Heuer Monaco worn by Steve McQueen in 1971 movie, Le Mans
Heuer Monaco worn by Steve McQueen in 1971 movie, Le Mans

Since its launch, the Monaco has been released over the years in more guises than we can count, and served as a platform for some of TAG Heuer’s most radical technological innovations, such as the Monaco V4 which dumps pinion wheels for transmission belts to drive the movement, and the Monaco Mikrograph which features an all-mechanical, dual-escapement chronograph movement that can measure a second to its hundredth part.

Monaco V4
Monaco V4
Monaco Mikrograph
Monaco Mikrograph

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of one of its most iconic watch models, TAG Heuer is launching five limited edition Monaco watches this year through its “Monaco Through Time” series of launch events, with each limited edition rendered in a style evocative of the respective decades following its 1969 launch.

The first of these limited editions, inspired by the 1970s, was presented in May at the Monaco F1 Grand Prix. This was followed by the 1980s-inspired edition in June at Le Mans in France, and the 1990s-inspired edition in July during the run-up to the Formula E Championships in New York.

The Monaco 1969-1979 Limited Edition (Image © Revolution)
The Monaco 1969-1979 Limited Edition (Image © Revolution)
TAG Heuer Monaco 1979–1989 Limited Edition “Le Mans” (Image © Revolution)
TAG Heuer Monaco 1979–1989 Limited Edition “Le Mans” (Image © Revolution)
Monaco 1989–1999 Limited Edition (Image © Revolution)
Monaco 1989–1999 Limited Edition (Image © Revolution)

For September, TAG Heuer has released the 2000s-inspired version in a limited edition of 169 pieces, at the Gallery of Horyuji Treasures at the Tokyo National Museum in Japan. There isn’t a last word on what constitutes design language that encapsulates the noughties; suffice it say that the 2000s-inspired model is quite a departure from the others, with its stark monochrome black/white accented by slivers of bright red in the markers and hands.

'00s-inspired limited edition Monaco (Image © Revolution)
'00s-inspired limited edition Monaco (Image © Revolution)

Also setting the limited editions apart are their caseback engravings; this particular ’00s-inspired edition will bear “Monaco Heuer”, “1999-2009 Special Edition” and “XXX of 169” inscriptions on the caseback. For Monaco fans in Japan for the launch, they can also visit a TAG Heuer exhibition at the TAG Heuer Omotesando Boutique in Tokyo, showcasing the brand’s history and rare iconic models, till October 1, 2019.

Technical Specifications

Movement

Self-winding Calibre 11 chronograph movement; 4Hz; 40-hour power reserve

Case

39mm stainless steel; sapphire crystal; crown at ‘9’, pushers at ‘2’ and ‘4’; engraved solid caseback; water resistant to 100m

Strap

Calfskin leather; stainless steel folding clasp