Any watch brand would love to claim a truly “iconic” chronograph in their lineup, but TAG Heuer arguably has a couple, among which is the famous square-cased Monaco. When Heuer launched the Monaco back in 1969, it was the first Swiss-made automatic chronograph that was square and water-resistant. Now, they have revealed the TAG Heuer Monaco Gulf Special Edition that specifically recalls Steve McQueen’s role in making the Monaco famous.
The Heuer Monaco found fame after Steve McQueen sported it on his wrist during his appearance in the 1971 film, Le Mans. In that same movie, McQueen’s character is sponsored by Gulf Oil, and you’ll see that his white livery also sported the blue and orange stripes, as in the famous picture above. So the TAG Heuer cheap watch is inspired not only by the original Heuer Monaco, but also by Steve McQueen and his character in Le Mans. TAG Heuer says it is also a tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Gulf racing stripes and its role in motor racing.
At its essence, the TAG Heuer Monaco Gulf Special Edition has remained true to the original. For example, the crown is still on the left of the watch case, there is a highly domed sapphire crystal, and the dial is blue with a sunray-brushed finish. It is powered by the TAG Heuer Calibre 11 which is very similar to the movement found in the original Monaco with the benefit of modern production methods and tolerances. The Calibre 11 provides 40 hours of power reserve and beats at 4Hz. It is a time-tested and reliable movement and, much like the Calibre 1861 is to the Speedmaster, it is indelibly linked to the Heuer Monaco.
The steel case is 39mm in diameter but being square in shape means it wears much larger than you might think. The bezel and case both have alternating brushed and polished finishing to give the case some visual interest. Unlike the original Monaco, the pushers in the Gulf Special are square, which I think fits the aesthetic of the watch much better. As mentioned earlier, the watch has a highly domed and beveled sapphire crystal. This was one of the hallmarks of the original Monaco from 1969 and one of the features that helped it to be water-resistant. Speaking of water-resistance, the TAG Heuer Monaco Gulf Special Edition is rated to 100m, even with its display caseback.
The TAG Heuer Monaco Gulf Special Edition replica is likely to appeal to an avid Monaco collector, a fan of motorsport racing or the Gulf team, or Steve McQueen fans sentimental for the ’70s. The TAG Heuer Monaco Gulf Special Edition is not limited by the number of watches produced but it is a US-only edition. From now until September 15, 2017, it is available online on TAG’s website. After that date, the watch will be presented at Watch Time’s exhibition in New York and will be available at retailers in the US.