1969, AN EXCEPTIONAL YEAR


TAG Heuer nostalgia #2

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July 2019


TAG Heuer nostalgia #2

Back in 1998, we highlighted in our pages the “power of the past” in the watch industry as TAG Heuer, a pioneer of the “vintagemania” trend, revived the Monaco. More than 20 years later, this statement could not prove more true, as special editions of the motor racing timepiece are being launched for its anniversary. The glory of the 1960s and the glamour of the 1970s are definitely central to contemporary watchmaking!

“T

his year, TAG Heuer is reviving a watch created in 1969, the Heuer Monaco, whose resolutely geometric form was typical of the 60s. It is shown here with a picture of another legend, Steve McQueen, wearing the original version in the film Le Mans,” we wrote in our sports section in... 1998. This sentence could be copy-pasted today and still be valid, as the brand just released a third anniversary version of the Monaco, unveiled in New York.

This sentence could be copy-pasted today and still be valid, as the brand just released a third anniversary version of the Monaco, unveiled in New York.

“TAG Heuer Nostalgia” - an article from 1998 published in Europa Star.
“TAG Heuer Nostalgia” - an article from 1998 published in Europa Star.
Europa Star Issue 228 / 1998

Flash forward to 2002 and the then-CEO of TAG Heuer, Jean-Christophe Babin (today leading the destiny of Bulgari), declared to Europa Star, about the Monaco among other watch classics: “We will no longer offer simple re-editions. From now on, they will be veritable re-designs of our celebrated pieces, of our watch icons, which possess a timeless dimension but which we will revisit according to our own 21st century specifications. The new Monza, Monaco and Carrera are therefore not re-editions but rather evolutions.”

“The new Monza, Monaco and Carrera are not re-editions but rather evolutions.”

2002: Jean-Christophe Babin is interviewed by Europa Star about re-editions and re-interpretations of timekeeping classics.
2002: Jean-Christophe Babin is interviewed by Europa Star about re-editions and re-interpretations of timekeeping classics.
Europa Star Issue 253 / 2002
The Monaco in 2002 in Europa Star.
The Monaco in 2002 in Europa Star.
Europa Star Issue 256 / 2002

In 2002, at a time when the watch industry was all about revolutionary designs, and looking for a new shape for the “Millennium” timepiece (it was all about the millennium then, not yet about Millennials), TAG Heuer, through its numerous re-editions became a pioneer of what we would today call “vintagemania”.

We wrote about this phenomenon that set the brand apart, and talked about the Italian market, where the brand encountered a surprising surge in sales: “It’s no secret that a great deal of this success is due to the re-edition of the classic timepieces created in the past by the original brand, Heuer. In particular, there is the Monaco model that has started a trend by itself. It is so popular that stores have trouble keeping them in stock. The demand truly exceeds the supply."

“The Monaco model has started a trend by itself. It is so popular that stores have trouble keeping them in stock.”

 Back in 2002, the “phenomenon” of TAG Heuer's re-editions, such as the Monaco, met a demand for “fine mechanical timekeeping” rather than futuristic design. “The decision to reintroduce the classics has paid off.”
Back in 2002, the “phenomenon” of TAG Heuer’s re-editions, such as the Monaco, met a demand for “fine mechanical timekeeping” rather than futuristic design. “The decision to reintroduce the classics has paid off.”
Europa Star Issue 250 / 2002

The subsequent arrival of Jean-Claude Biver (read his recent portrait in Europa Star here) would strengthen the vintage trend at TAG Heuer, with the revival of the Autavia, for instance (while simultaneously putting an end to the brand’s upgrade strategy, and pursuing new buyers through the Connected range).

While everyone in the industry was looking for the “futuristic” watch that would become an icon of the new millennium in the 2000s, it seems that TAG Heuer was already launching a watch for the Millennials, with the revival of the Monaco.

As everyone in the industry was looking for the “futuristic” watch that would become an icon of the new millennium in the 2000s, it seems that TAG Heuer was already launching a watch for Millennials, with the revival of the Monaco.

And now to the present... To commemorate the 50-year milestone, TAG Heuer is launching five new Monaco watches throughout the year, inspired by the successive decades from 1969 to 2019.

The first of these models, inspired by the years 1969 to 1979, was unveiled at the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix in May, while the second limited edition, celebrating the period from 1979 to 1989, was presented in June in Le Mans, France. The third edition of the new Monaco watch, inspired by the 1990s, made its debut in New York this month.

As already stated in the 2002 article from our archives, the goal here is not to create an exact replica but to issue contemporary re-interpretations of the Monaco.

TAG Heuer kicked off the 50th anniversary celebrations for the Monaco timepiece at the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix, the event that gave the watch its name in 1969. The first model takes inspiration from the years 1969 to 1979. The emblematic geometric shapes and colours from this era, combined with a Côtes de Genève pattern, are some of the features that distinguish the first model created to celebrate the Monaco’s 50th anniversary.

Presented on a brown perforated leather strap lined in a lighter brown, this stainless-steel timepiece has been produced in an edition limited to just 169 pieces. The green dial features brown and yellow touches and a Côtes de Genève finish. The hands are coated with SuperLuminova®. A quick glance at the subdials and the position of the crown is sufficient to identify the Monaco lineage of this unconventional timepiece.

The first 50-year anniversary limited edition of the TAG Heuer Monaco was unveiled in May.
The first 50-year anniversary limited edition of the TAG Heuer Monaco was unveiled in May.

The caseback of this 1970s-inspired timepiece is engraved with the original “Monaco Heuer” logo as well as “1969-1979 Special Edition” and “One of 169”. Beating inside the case is the Calibre 11, a modern version of the automatic-winding chronograph movement that made its debut inside the original Monaco in 1969.

TAG Heuer presented the second of five limited-edition Monaco timepieces in Le Mans, the setting for the 1971 film in which the Monaco was worn by Steve McQueen. This edition celebrates the period from 1979 to 1989, with a fiery design including a bold red dial.

Presented on a black perforated calfskin strap lined in red, this special edition captures the speed and style of the Monaco’s second decade. The stainless-steel model, with its iconic square case, features a red sunray dial and two rhodium-plated subdials with curved edges. Black and white accents on the dial perfectly complement the black-tipped hour and minute hands. The hands and indexes are coated with Super-LumiNova® for improved legibility.

At Le Mans in June (the setting of the 1971 movie starring Steve McQueen that popularised the watch), TAG Heuer introduced its second limited edition of the Monaco.
At Le Mans in June (the setting of the 1971 movie starring Steve McQueen that popularised the watch), TAG Heuer introduced its second limited edition of the Monaco.

As with the original, the pushers are on the right of the case while the crown is on the left – an unconventional feature that has distinguished the Monaco for the past 50 years. The caseback of this 1980s-inspired wristwatch is engraved with the “Monaco Heuer” logo as well as “1979-1989 Special Edition” and “One of 169”. This watch has been produced in an edition limited to 169 pieces.

The third of five limited-edition tributes to the Monaco takes its inspiration from the themes, styles and trends of the 1990s. With a steely industrial appearance reflecting the straightforward street style characteristic of this beloved decade, this special collector’s edition features a blue and silvery appearance with dynamic red elements.

The third limited edition of the Monaco is inspired by the 1990s.
The third limited edition of the Monaco is inspired by the 1990s.

The square stainless-steel chronograph has a grained rhodium-plated dial with sandblasted subdials featuring blue counters. The flange and Heuer logo are in blue, and the indexes and central seconds hand are red. The blue of the Heuer logo and minute and second scales counters provides a bold contrast to the red touches on the hands and indexes and the red motif featured on the dial. This colour scheme continues with the blue perforated calfskin strap with red stitching.

And here below a last image to close this sudden episode of “nostalgia” experienced by the editorial team of Europa Star!

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