Right in the middle of the Geneva car show, TAG Heuer has announced a global partnership deal with Gulf Oil International, one of the most legendary sponsors of motorsports. So, what happens when a brand known for its racing-car roots teams up with one of the best-known players in the automotive industry? Well, the result is the immediately recognisable blue and orange stripes applied to one of the most iconic motorsports chronographs, the square-shaped Monaco. Please meet the TAG Heuer Monaco Gulf 2018 Special Edition.
The link between Heuer (not yet TAG at that time) and Gulf, even though unofficial back then, dates back to 1971 with the launch of the movie ‘Le Mans’, starring Steve McQueen. The ‘King of Cool’ (as he’s often named today) insisted on wearing a blue dial Heuer Monaco Calibre 11 Ref. 1133B throughout the filming of the movie when he drove the famous Porsche 917K. The car bore Gulf colours, meaning light blue with orange and dark blue stripes. Yet, this isn’t the only occasion when these signature colours went under the spotlights.
Gulf has been a well-known player in the automotive industry for over 115 years, with a long history of innovation, invention and continuing development. It was the first company to drill for oil below the sea, and in 1913, became the first in the world to open a petrol station. What made the brand famous was its continuous sponsorship of several racing teams, under the “Gulf Racing” name, with cars immediately recognisable thanks to their famous blue with orange stripes.
These two brands, TAG Heuer and Gulf, have a long and rich shared history and today’s announcement – making their union official with a global partnership – feels like a natural development. What is quite surprising is that this hasn’t been done before. Two icons of the world of motorsports finally reunited… And how do they celebrate? In the best possible way, if you ask us, as today is also the official and international launch of a dedicated watch, the TAG Heuer Monaco Gulf 2018 Special Edition. The best of the ‘Le Mans’ movie and the signature Heuer style in a single watch!
This new Gulf Edition of the TAG Heuer Monaco is a bold and colourful variant, yet in essence a visual update of a watch we all know. It is based on the 2015 TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre 11 “Steve McQueen” ref. CAW211P, which we reviewed here. For that matter, we find the same case, the same movement, the same dial – or at least the same style of dial – and the same overall concept. And that’s undoubtedly pleasant news.
The TAG Heuer Monaco Gulf 2018 Special Edition CAW211R features the iconic 39mm x 39mm square-shaped case so dear to the Monaco watch. Even though it remains close to the 1969 original version, this modern variant now has a 3-part steel case (since 1998) and a sapphire crystal, rectangular shaped pushers and slimmer lugs (since 2009) and an open case back to reveal the movement. However, until 2015, this watch was slightly different from the original 1133B, mainly due to the indexes on the dial – in a radial layout instead of the original horizontal indexes. This is where the 2015 version made a comeback to the “Steve McQueen style”.
The new TAG Heuer Monaco Gulf 2018 Special Edition CAW211R features an updated dial. All the aesthetic codes of Gulf have been integrated, meaning a dark blue sunray dial with white sub-counters and two contrasting stripes: a bright blue one and, of course, a vivid orange one. The Gulf logo sits at 5 o’clock, above the date window. The hands and 5-minute markers are painted with bright red lacquer. To complete the “Gulf-inspiration”, the Monaco Gulf 2018 is delivered on a blue perforated leather strap with orange stitching.
As an ode to the original model, launched in 1969 with one of the very first automatic chronographs ever, the Calibre 11, the new model also features the crown at 9 o’clock and the date window at 6 o’clock. The automatic movement that can be found in this TAG Heuer Monaco Gulf 2018 Special Edition is, however, a modern movement, based on ETA architecture with a chronograph module on top. The movement is visible through the sapphire crystal on the back.
As always, the TAG Heuer Monaco makes a statement on the wrist, with its easily recognisable case and its bright colours. Yet, with this Gulf version, this model is firmly rooted in motorsports. Certainly not the most discreet piece, yet one that really talks to the passionate driver inside us.
The TAG Heuer Monaco Gulf 2018 Special Edition will be available at retailers and on the official TAG Heuer webshop very soon, at a price of CHF 5,700. More details on tagheuer.com.