When Tag Heuer launched the Monaco in 1969, it grabbed attention not only for its bold design and distinctive square case but for the innovative watchmaking within. As the world’s first automatic chronograph, it later fully cemented its place in horological history when it featured on the wrist of Steve McQueen in the classic 1971 racing film Le Mans.
This year the watchmaker has marked the Monaco’s 50th anniversary in style with the release of five limited-edition watches throughout the year, culminating the celebrations with the unveiling of the one-of-a-kind Monaco Piece d’Art. This restored and decorated version of an original 1969 model will be auctioned on 10 December 2019 at Phillips in New York, with proceeds going to American charity United Way of New York City.
Retaining the iconic look of the dial, the most dramatic enhancement can be seen when the watch is flipped over. The original Calibre 11 movement has been painstakingly disassembled and worked on, including new hand engraving on the bridges in a font reminiscent of the style of the 1970s. A circle has been cut out of the caseback and replaced with transparent sapphire crystal to showcase this intricate work to full effect.
It will be presented in a special wooden box along with the historic Monaco leaflet that came with the original timepiece, while the caseback has been captured in a piece of artwork by renowned visual artist Julie Kraulis that will be framed in the same wood. The lucky highest bidder will also receive a copy of Paradoxical Superstar, a book documenting the storied history of the Monaco, signed by Tag Heuer’s honorary chairman Jack Heuer.