Like the city that inspired its name, the TAG Heuer Monaco feels of a different era, of a time we can only suggest rather than experience first hand. It's not as though Monaco, or the Monaco, feel specifically old, but rather that both the city and the watch manage to capture a specific nostalgia that, while hard to explain, sits somewhere adjacent to "the good old times." Monaco still has a prince, but we no longer have a Cary Grant luckily, TAG Heuer still produces the Monaco.
While I've had the privilege to visit Monaco in the past, like with many of the worlds great cities, my first presentation of Monaco came from film and television. Growing up in a small town in Ontario, Canada, all glamorous and far-off places came to me via TV and movies (and I'm sure it was similar for many of you reading this today). And for me, this causes a quirky overlap in how I think of both Monaco the place and Monaco the watch. Becoming aware of Monaco via movies like the wonderful To Catch a Thief is oddly fitting, given that many became aware of the Heuer Monaco via its on-screen presence in 1971's Le Mans, in which Steve McQueen almost singlehandedly kickstarted the popularity of the Monaco.*
By the time Le Mans raced across the silver screens in 1971, the Monaco was some two years old and had not yet proven to be a popular design. Conceived by Jack Heuer as a bold alternative to the Carrera or Autavia, the funky square-cased Monaco came out in 1969 and featured what is likely Heuer's largest claim to fame in watchmaking, the Calibre 11 automatic chronograph movement. For those wanting a much deeper dive on the Monaco, please be sure to read Ben's excellent A Week On The Wrist here. As such, it took a couple of years (and one of the biggest stars of his era) for the Monaco to start its path towards iconography.*
Fast forward some five decades and TAG Heuer is celebrating the Monaco's 50th birthday (with a smattering of special limited edition versions, the first of which can be seen here). Given the Monaco's motorsport heritage, the fact that TAG Heuer has been the official watch of the Monaco Grand Prix since 2011, and that the brand is a key sponsor for the competitive Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Team, where else do you think they would choose to celebrate 50 years of the Monaco? Somewhere other than Monaco during the GP weekend? Please, darling, be rational. *
So the stars were aligned for a big weekend in Monaco. It's a strange and unique city that is home to an equally unique (and notoriously difficult) GP circuit that takes place directly on the city's streets. While I'm certain that some of you are hardcore F1 fans, I am just as certain that no one came to HODINKEE for in-depth race coverage, so I will digress no further. Instead, allow me to share a photoset from my role as something of an interloper at a spectacle of an event in which Monaco attempts to relive the glory and allure of race weekend now some 90 years after the first Grand Prix took over its narrow streets.*It's a scene and, as you might assume, there were many Monacos to be found in Monaco.*