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The Tag Heuer Monaco remains one of the brand’s most iconic watches thanks to movie star Steve McQueen. The cultural icon chose to wear the now famous timepiece in Le Mans, his 1971 big-screen hit, which pays tribute to one of auto racing’s most famous endurance races.

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Monaco and Le Mans

Launched in 1969 as a tribute to the famous race, the Monaco was revolutionary for being the first automatic as well as the first square-cased chronograph. The Heuer Monaco Ref 1133 was released with two dial colours 1133B for blue and 1133G for grey. ’11’ denoted the calibre movement, the first ‘3’ denoted the Monaco line and the second ‘3’ denoted the steel case.

In 1971, Steve McQueen was searching for a watch to wear in his impending movie. Enter Don Nunley, Le Mans prop master who had gathered a number of brands including Heuer for McQueen to choose from. Nunley contacted Heuer with the idea to place their products in the movie, a common practice today but unheard of at the time. Nunley also ordered Heuer stopwatches, timing boards, patches and three chronographs as Heuer products were commonly used for timing races.

Click here to check out our gallery of famous 24 Hours of Le Mans winners.

McQueen had a selection of Heuer models to choose from but wanted something understated, he opted for the Monaco with its unusual square shape. And with that, an icon was born. The blue-face Monaco 1133B is affectionately known as the McQueen Monaco and is a highly sought-after model on the secondary watch market. The Heuer Monaco was produced from 1969 until its discontinuation in the mid-seventies and subsequent revival in 1998.

Monaco and the Monaco Grand Prix

Tag Heuer has been a brand partner of the Monaco Grand Prix since 2011. The first Monaco Grand Prix was held on April 14 1929 and formed part of the pre-war GP series held in European cities. From 1950 onwards it formed part of the Formula One World Championship and quickly became a favourite among spectators and drivers alike for its stunning views and millionaire lifestyle backdrop. Multiple winners of the race include Graham Hill and Michael Schumacher with five victories each while Ayrton Senna has six to his name.

The Monaco Grand Prix forms part of what is often referred to as the Triple Crown in motor racing – the others being the Indianapolis 500 and 24 Hours of Le Mans. Graham Hill remains the only racing driver to have won all three races.

Its been over 90 years since the first grand prix was held and 50 years since the first Monaco watch was released. The Monaco Grand Prix remains on of the most famous motor races in the world and indeed the most glamorous on the F1 calendar. In 1998, Tag Heuer decided to relaunch its iconic Monaco watch and since then has released new models including a 50th Anniversary range.