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TAG Heuer Monaco: A rebel at 50

We travel to Le Mans where TAG Heuer creative director Guy Bove sheds light on how the brand went about creating the Monaco 50th anniversary special editions 

The Monaco’s design is unmistakable. It was unique at its launch and it is still unique 50 years down the road — and it’s very cool in a rebellious way.

Was the task of working on the Monaco special editions daunting?

The task itself wasn’t daunting, the challenge was to decide what type of project to launch to properly celebrate the 50th anniversary of such an iconic model. I thought that creating a model per decade would be a fitting tribute to a piece that has been so influential throughout its history, as it would not only show the Monaco changing through the decades but also show TAG Heuer changing through time. 

A fundamental part of the project was finding a design feature from each decade that could serve as a backbone to the colour palette used on the watches. The challenge was then to find the right look for each timepiece.

The Monaco’s design is unmistakable. It was unique at its launch and it is still unique 50 years down the road — and it’s very cool in a rebellious way.

Steve McQueen is most often associated with this timepiece

What pieces of pop culture or items inspired your design for the 1980s version (pictured above)?

Many. We looked at all kinds of artefacts: Sony Walkman, Nintendo, Memphis design furniture, race cars, sports cars, restaurants, clothing — the list goes on and on.

How did you decide on the specific red that has been used?

We wanted a luscious, deep red that, at the same time as it shows off the horological finishes in the dial, would remind the owner of the sports cars and race cars and speed and daring of the 1980s.

What were your initial visions for the Monaco when you were asked to reimagine it?

I think it would be remiss to talk about reimagining the Monaco; this is much more a question of shining a spotlight on the original features of the watch to show why they have withstood the test of time. Features like the appliqués, hands and basic dial design is identical to that of 50 years ago. 

So, the main question was, “How can we pay tribute to such a strong design while creating exciting designs for our collectors?” And the answer was: Show how well it adapts to each decade.

Guy Bove

What do you think gives the Monaco its lasting appeal?

Its design is unmistakable. It was unique at its launch and it is still unique 50 years down the road — and it’s very cool in a rebellious way. 

Anyone wearing this watch stands out. It is plainly outstanding by its silhouette, form language and visibility on the wrist. Also, it was often seen on the wrist of the King of Cool himself, Steve McQueen — quite the tribute for the Monaco and for our brand.

What ideas did you have for the special editions that didn’t make the cut?

We tested several different colour schemes for each decade. Some worked better than others in terms of creating a red line from 1969 through to 2019, though.

The new model inspired by the 1970s. 

Finally, what technical challenges do square face watches pose compared to other shapes? 

The main challenges are twofold: Firstly, the hands go around in circles while the dial is square, so you have the question of what to do in the corners. In the case of the Monaco, this question was solved 50 years ago in a very bold way — highlighting the circle in the square is undoubtedly one factor in its coolness. 

Secondly, making a square watch that will make collectors enthusiastic about it is tough, as most people prefer round watches. Again, I think that the rebellious nature of the watch due to its play on shapes and large volume, overrides this problem, and actually draws people to it in a way that most square watches cannot. Again, it’s a very cool design.

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