Time Zone: TAG Heuer at the Monaco Grand Prix

How the spirit of Monaco inspired one of TAG Heuer’s great wristwear classics

Monaco harbour

Jack Heuer (great grandson of Heuer watch company founder Edouard) was one of the industry’s most innovative marketeers of the 20th century – not least in his ability to choose evocative names for new models.

One of his best known is the Monaco, which launched in 1969 as the world’s first waterproof, square-cased chronograph.

TAG Heuer Monaco Blue Dial

Since the Heuer brand was already linked with motorsport through chronographs such as the Carrera and Autavia, it made sense to name the new watch after the home of the world’s most glamorous street race – but there was more to it than that.

Heuer also chose “Monaco” for its associations with wealth and sophistication in the hope that it would attract buyers other than fans of cars and racing. He envisioned the watch on the wrists of architects, designers and similarly creative types who would be drawn to its bold, modern aesthetic. 

TAG Heuer CEO Frédéric Arnault (left) with today’s TAG Heuer Monaco ambassador, actor Jacob Elordi (right), pictured against the backdrop of Monaco

The irony is that after Hollywood idol Steve McQueen wore a blue-dial Monaco for his starring role in the 1971 motor racing movie Le Mans, the watch become one of the most celebrated driver’s chronographs of all time.

And all thanks to that “other” famous French race circuit after which it wasn’t named… but it still looks right at home in Monaco. At the Grand Prix, of course, but also just for a stroll around Place du Casino.

TAG Heuer Monaco Blue Dial, £5,800; tagheuer.com

By Simon de Burton. Simon is a journalist and author who writes for the FT’s How to Spend ItBritish GQ and Boat International, among others

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