In 1999 TAG Heuer released this special “Heuer” Monaco to commemorate the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix. The watch is a limited edition of 120, although only 110 were available to the public, as numbers 111-120 were given to Ron Dennis of McLaren. Why? Well, as I’ve pointed out before, Ron Dennis was not just the boss of the TAG Heuer-sponsored McLaren F1 team, but was also a major shareholder in TAG Heuer itself. So no surprise that Ron kept a handful of these to hand out to sponsors, models and the other beautiful people of Monaco.
And while Ron would have smiled after qualifying, when Mika Hakkinen took pole position, he would have been less happy after the race, as Mika got the start wrong and was overtaken by Schumacher and Irvine in the Ferraris. Hakkinen fell back to fourth, but would eventually be promoted to third when the second Mclaren of David Coulthard expired.
While the win in Monaco gave Schumacher an early lead in that years title race, he would be overtaken by Hakkinen by the time of the British Grand Prix, a race in which Schumi crashed and broke his leg, ending his title hopes. McLaren almost threw the title away to the journeyman Eddie Irvine, but at the last race of the season in Suzuka, Hakkinen prevailed making in back-to-back titles for the Finn.
The watch itself is a variant on the CS2111 Monaco, the second series re-edition Monaco that like the first series (CS2110) is a Heuer-branded LE of 5000 watches. The unique elements to the Monaco GP special are the red text across the top of the dial (“Grand Prix Monaco 1999”) and the chequered flag pattern either side of the 6 o’clock dub-dial. While I’ve briefly mentioned this watch before, these fantastic photos come courtesy of Reza Khalili, who is an avid watch collector and one of the founders of the GP Guide (http://www.gpguide.com), which provides statistics and data for Formula 1 fans.
As well as being a great looking Monaco variant, it’s also of historical significance as it is one of the last models that TAG Heuer produced as an independent, listed company. TAG Heuer began a strategic review in June 1999 (some two weeks after the Monaco Grand Prix) which led to its sale in September to LVMH, a move which history will show was of great benefit to TAG Heuer, bringing in new management and a bigger budget to develop the brand.
Pricing these Monaco models is close to impossible, given how few exist and how rarely they come up for sale. I recall 18 months ago that there were two available in Europe for around EUR 12,000- not surprisingly, they didn’t sell at that price. One of these is still on sale today at less than half of that price, still a hefty premium over the standard CS2111 Monaco, which is readily available in the EUR 1700- 2300 range. I suspect that while the Monaco LE deserves a premium, it’s probably in the 30-60% range, rather than being several hundred percent.
TAG Heuer have made a number of special edition watches for various Grand Prix over the years, including the Singapore Grand Prix series, but none are as cool as this simple Black and Red Monaco.