This Weekend Only: TAG Heuer's Monaco Piece d'Art Lands At Their Fifth Avenue Boutique
If you are missing the Miami heat, you can still get your culture fix at the TAG Heuer Boutique on Fifth Avenue this weekend.
Having serious FOMO for Art Basel Miami this weekend? Do you miss those days when brands like TAG Heuer would commission installations like wrapping the side of a hotel in a giant Alec Monopoly mural?
Don’t worry, if you are in New York this weekend you can still participate in watch-related cultural hobnobbing. Wrapping up the brand’s celebrations for the Monaco’s 50th-anniversary, TAG Heuer has created the Monaco Piece d’Art. And this one-of-a-kind creation will be on display in advance of the Phillips Game Changer Auction on December 10th.
It’s a rare chance to examine this aesthetic wonder in person before it ends up in a collector’s private collection. And, it’s also an opportunity to get your art speak on. We’ve even provided some art theory talking points to help you feel like you are in Miami, mingling with gallerists, critics, and other art enthusiasts.
What elevates Monaco Piece d’Art to the level of an art object? One could argue that modern art is as much about the concept and process of making art as it is about the finished piece. Or, as New York magazine art critic Jerry Saltz once said, “I’m looking for what the artist is trying to say and what he or she is actually saying, what the work reveals about society and the timeless conditions of being alive."
The Monaco Piece d’Art is certainly saying a lot about pop culture and conveying all sorts of status on its wearer.
This unique timepiece is a restored and decorated version of an original 1969 model (reference number 1133B) selected from the TAG Heuer Museum at the brand’s headquarters in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland.
A team of TAG Heuer’s in-house experts in the Vintage After-Sales Department began the process by restoring the original Calibre 11 mechanism — the very first automatic-winding chronograph movement.
ART AND CRAFT
As philosopher and media theorist Marshall McLuhan once said, “The medium is the message.” And what could send a more powerful statement about the historical impact of the Monaco than using the original as a canvas?
While the watch was already a museum piece, the restoration was just the beginning of a brand-new chapter in the story of this watch.
“The Heritage Department wondered what gift it could offer the Monaco for its 50th anniversary,” said TAG Heuer Heritage Director Catherine Eberlé-Devaux. “We decided to create a work of art that commemorates our icon and pays tribute to its uniqueness. We have taken original components and decorated them – something that has never been done.”
As this video shows, the process was quite daring for the watchmakers. First of all, the Calibre 11 was never meant to be decorated. So, finding the balance between beauty and functionality took a lot of creativity. The artists even had to invent new tools to carry out their work.
THE AVANTE GARDE
In his influential documentary and book about post-modern art, The Shock of the New, critic Robert Hughes talks about how technology feeds off culture itself, and how the contemporary art fairs, like Art Miami and the international exhibition circuit, have changed how we view art today.
We also know that the TAG in TAG Heuer stands for Techniques d’Avant Garde. And what could be more ahead of the curve than refashioning a classic timepiece? It’s not so different from the work of contemporary artists, like Damien Hirst or graffiti artist and designer KAWS. Both reimagined Mickey Mouse or Cookie Monster in vastly different ways to comment on symbolism in modern society.
Which is why the most impressive aspect of Monaco Piece d’Art is that the brand was not afraid to rewrite this piece’s history by redecorating the movement and displaying it with a see-through case back.
In the tradition of postmodernism, this watch also comments on older artistic traditions of rational order, purity, and simplicity of modern design. For example, the watchmakers cut out a circle from the stainless steel and replaced it with sapphire crystal.
Is this rational? Who cares? It provides an unobstructed view of the complex geometries of the decorated movement within. The watchmakers disassembled the movement and components and worked on every part of the chronograph module including hand engraving the bridges in a 1970s style. The two bridges had to be remade, as the originals were too thin for the elaborate engraving work.
Could one say that the result builds a bridge between two worlds? If you were at Art Miami, you would.
Again, this amazing watch will be on display at TAG Heuer’s Fifth Avenue boutique from 10 am to 3 pm on Friday, December 6th, and Saturday, December 7th. Then it goes up for bidding at the Phillips Game Changers watch auction, set to take place on Tuesday, December 10th. Proceeds from the auction will be donated to the United Way of New York City. Dedicated to improving the lives of underprivileged children and families, TAG Heuer will support United Way of New York City’s education campaign, ReadNYC.
(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)