Amongst men of taste, there are few names or faces more recognizable than Steve McQueen, the original King Of Cool. Despite his passing over 30 years ago, McQueen’s popularity is as big as ever, and lifestyle products associated with the man are hot on the market. Much has been written about his passion for mechanical things – automobiles of course, and watches. McQueen’s likeness is in fact used in the marketing of a number of wristwatches, particularly for Tag Heuer, a brand proud of its connection and timekeeping contributions to sports car racing heritage.
Of all the timepieces associated with McQueen, none is more iconic than the original Heuer Monaco, a square-cased automatic chronograph popular with racing drivers in the early 1970s. This is primarily due to its prominence in the 1971 film Le Mans, considered by many to be the best film about auto racing ever produced. Strapped to the wrist of McQueen’s character – Michael Delaney –and worn behind the wheel of the legendary Gulf-Livery Porsche 917, the Monaco achieved a cult-like status still enjoyed today.
Modern reissues of the Monaco are still available from Tag Heuer, while early examples become increasingly desirable. In fact, a number of original timepieces proven to be used in the production of Le Manshave sold at auction in the past several years – fetching prices as high as $800K.
Words by: James Lamdin - A vintage watch connoisseur and founder of Analog Shift, an online boutique for a curated selection of exceptional wristwatches.