Call The Spice Girls, We Go Back To The Nineties With The New TAG Heuer Monaco A

Oh Snap! TAG Heuer And Patrick Dempsey Unveil A New 90s-Inspired Monaco At The Party Of The Year

Last Wednesday night, we sped through history and landed back in the nineties with TAG Heuer for the launch of their third 50thAnniversary Monaco.

By Viviana Shanks

Ah, the Nineties. Remember when you had the Spice Girls tape in your Walkman, struggled to keep your Tamagotchi fed and alive, Home Alone was the most epic movie, and your fashion choices were questionable? That's the decade that TAG Heuer honored yesterday in New York City with the new TAG Heuer Monaco 1989-1999. The third of the five limited edition watches that will be released this year. To launch the watch in very TAG Heuer fashion, who better than accomplished racer and actor Patrick Dempsey? We even had the chance to sit with Dempsey and talk about watches and racing.

The party of the year

Wow! There’s really no other way to describe what happened yesterday at Cipriani’s 25 Broadway location. TAG Heuer pulled out all the stops for this star-studded tribute to the nineties. The atrium of Cipriani was transformed into a technicolor immersion of light and sound. New York City’s thriving watch community came out in force to help celebrate the Monaco. The crowd was bold, young, vivacious, and dynamic. Over 1,000 people attended this glittering gala. Well done TAG Heuer Team USA!

50 years of history, with a couple of bumps

A bit of history, in 1969, TAG Heuer launched their first Automatic Chronograph, the Calibre 11, a revolution at the time. To mark this groundbreaking innovation, Jack Heuer decided that the movement needed a case design that would be remembered and eye-catching. Something just as groundbreaking as the movement. His choice? A square case, which broke the visual codes of traditional watchmaking. Patented and made exclusively for Heuer, it was the perfect case for the Calibre 11. The watch ended up with the name Monaco as it expressed racing, luxury, and style, exactly what the brand was aiming for. With its automatic chronograph and waterproof square case, the Heuer Monaco was set to be THE disruptive watch for the '60s.  

At first, the Heuer Monaco wasn’t exactly a success. The unusual square case shape was probably too avant-garde for the time. It wasn’t until Steve McQueen wore the watch in the 1971 movie “Le Mans” that the watch finally got the exposure it deserved. The Monaco ended up becoming the most recognizable sport watch ever designed. Today, McQueen’s Monaco is still very much sought-after by collectors. 

After the Le Mans buzz settled down, the watch’s sales didn’t hold steady, its “King of Cool” charm wasn’t enough, and the Monaco was removed from the Heuer catalog just before 1975. 

Flash forward to 1998, the brand was acquired by TAG Group and named TAG Heuer. The Monaco was re-introduced to the world, in a series of “Re-Editions” inspired by the first Monaco. It was a success right away, and the Monaco has been back in the catalog ever since. Since then, the Monaco has grown with the brand, and watchmaking trends, by using new technology and complications.

TAG Heuer Monaco 1989-1999

Which brings us to today. The NEW Monaco launched to celebrate the 1989-1999 period. Its vintage industrial style reminds us of the trends and fashion from the '90s.

The grey sandblasted dial is accentuated with the red indexes and second hand.  The blue counters are faithful to the metallic blue of the dial of the first Monaco. Powered by a modern version of the Calibre 11, and cased in the original 39mm square case, it is a true and faithful tribute to the first Monaco.

Faithful to the original, the crown is on the left of the watch, which indicated at the time that the watched didn’t need winding, and the chronograph pushers are located on the right-hand side. The caseback is engraved with “Monaco Heuer 1989-1999 Special Edition.”

Like the past three tributes, the watch is limited to 169 pieces and priced at $6,550 USD. Maybe it's because I'm from the '90s, but this watch is so far my favorite of the three tributes! I cannot wait to see what is under TAG Heuer’s sleeve for the next two.

Interview with Patrick Dempsey

On the occasion of the launch of the new 1989-1999 Monaco we had the chance to sit down with actor and racer Patrick Dempsey. It was a fitting time to chat as the Formula E race was coming up this weekend. As a cherry on top of the cake, Dempsey was a total heartthrob in the nineties. 

Viviana Shanks: Patrick! A pleasure to meet you! Both for the celebration of the Monaco but also for this weekend’s Formula E race! But it's also Formula E weekend here in New York! Are you attending the race?

Patrick Dempsey: I won't be attending the race, but I hope we have a champion that's amongst us today - who will be here tonight (Jean-Éric Vergne). I don't want to talk about it too much because I know he's just focusing on his work, but I think he'll probably clinch the championship.

VS: We write about watches, so I have to ask, what was your first nice watch?

PD: Hmm, it was the Monaco watch - the first commemorative one. The Gulf one, it was white. That was my first TAG Heuer watch.

VS: From acting to racing, what was the turning point for you?

PD: I think in many ways, it happened simultaneously. I mean, I've always loved racing – from the very beginning was always my passion, always something I wanted to do - and one has helped the other. 

VS: When we look at your career, we can't help but draw parallels between Steve McQueen and Paul Newman, how do you react to that?

PD: It's always remarkable to be mentioned with those two. I got a chance to meet with Paul Newman, and we just talked about cars and racing. And I would've liked the opportunity to sit down with Steve McQueen and race with him too. If I could go back in time, I'd like to know who would be the fastest. I have my idea as to who it would be. I think Newman would be the fastest. Consistently. I think McQueen would be blindingly fast, but I'm not sure how consistent although he was on the podium at Sebring. He never got a chance to race at Le Mans, but he made the movie. 

VS: On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Monaco, do you have a favorite model of the new releases and why? 

PD: I do. It's the one we released in Le Mans [the 1979-1989 Limited Edition]. I love the color (red), and the '80s. I wore the watch through the entire race timing our pit stops. Because the timing has to be precise and it really was! To be able to have the mechanical aspects working in harmony, it tied together beautifully.

There's racing, and then there's everything else

VS: You've raced in countless races, are a skilled and famous actor, what's the longest moment of your life?

PD: Wow, that's a great question. I don't know. The longest moment of my life? It's usually waiting. You're always waiting. The similarity between being an actor and being a racecar driver is that you're always in a trailer waiting. And then you have this moment where it gets hectic, and then it gets quiet again. So it's the in-between period. It's the waiting. “There's racing, and then there's everything else,” I think is the quote, right? Something from McQueen? But you're always waiting. You're either waiting for the set-up of the car, waiting to get in the car, waiting for the track - and the same thing goes for anything in front of the camera, you're always waiting. 

VS: Anything else you want to add for Watchonista?

PD:I'm just really proud to be a part of this.

(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)

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