A very special Tag Heuer is coming up for auction at Phillips’ “Game Changers” sale tomorrow in New York City. The unique piece was created for the auction house to round out the year-long 50th-anniversary celebration of its iconic Monaco model, made famous by Steve McQueen. Throughout 2019, the watchmaker has released five new Monaco editions representing various decades, but this piece will be the ultimate collector’s item and is expected to fetch between $30,000 and $60,000. Its proceeds will be donated to United Way of New York City to support its education campaign ReadNYC.
The Monaco Piece d’Art was chosen from the Tag Heuer museum and was re-worked by the brand’s in-house Vintage After-Sales department. It features the Monaco’s original Caliber 11—its first automatic-winding chronograph movement from 1969. It also comes on an original steel bracelet. But what makes this watch even more special is that the original components have been decorated anew; the most striking of which are the hand-engraved bridges in an eye-catching ’70s font with “Cal. eleven” written on the chronograph bridge for the minute and seconds counter and “Monaco” on the hour counter bridge. For the first time, the model features a sapphire crystal caseback to make this artistry visible. In order to engrave the bridges, the company had to remake them so that they would be thick enough to handle the level of engraving necessary. The date disc was also replaced with red numerals instead of black.
Collectors will also find that all of the components have been bevelled and parts have been decorated with straight graining, while mirror polishing has been applied to other surfaces and screw heads. Three new jewels were also added to bring the number of rubies on the movement to 20 for further effect. It took four expert craftsmen three months to complete this unique piece.
The watch will come in a special wooden box decorated with red lacquer and a white leather interior and will contain the stainless steel circle original to the caseback that was cut out to make way for the sapphire crystal. It also comes with an official record of the historic timepiece, a copy of the brand’s tome Paradoxical Superstar signed by founder Jack Heuer (containing archival sketches of the timepiece’s design and movement), and a piece of artwork by Julie Kraulis based on the caliber’s new reworked decor.
So far this piece has been one of the most buzz-worthy watches of the Game Changers auction, and while it might not fetch the $31 million that Patek Philippe raked in for the Only Watch auction’s efforts to raise money for muscular dystrophy, you can expect it to fetch a mighty fine price paid for a Tag Heuer.
Update: This watch sold at Phillips on December 10th for $81,250.