In 1969, Heuer in association with Breitling, Hamilton-Buren and Dubois-Depraz, unveiled the final version of what
was called the "Project 99": the Chronomatic/Calibre 11 automatic chronograph movement. It was a formidable moment
in watchmaking because that same year, both Seiko and Zenith introduced their own automatic chronographs, ensuing a
fierce competition that forced Jack Heuer, the then head of the company, to make a difference with something more
powerful. In the years leading up to 1969, Heuer planned to launch the Calibre 11 in the Carrera and Autavia
collections but that wasn’t enough for Jack, who wanted to make a significant impact with his new movement. So he
joined forces with Erwin Piquerez, a Swiss case manufacturer, who developed Monaco's water-resistant square case, a
first for the industry then. Soon enough, Jack Heuer ensured the exclusivity of the design for Monaco and on March
3, 1969, Heuer introduced the world to the Monaco 1133B, writing the first chapter of its illustrious history.
Enter “The King of Cool”
We all know that the Monaco rose to fame as Steve McQueen's watch featured in the 1971 movie "Le Mans". But this fact
was preceded by another fortunate decision by the visionary Jack Heuer. Around the launch of Heuer watches with the
Calibre 11, Jack established a commercial deal with his friend and Formula 1 driver Jo Siffert, a fan of Heuer
watches and the brand's first ambassador.
In 1970, Siffert served as production support for "Le Mans", where he met McQueen, who was inspired to play the role
of Michael Delaney, thanks to Sifferet himself. For the film, instead of using an Autavia, which was usually worn by
Siffert, McQueen chose the Monaco 1133B for its unique and unconventional appearance. It was arguably one of the
most critical decisions in the history of watch marketing.
Getting Better with Age
In recent years, the legacy of the original Monaco Calibre 11 has been represented by the base reference CAW211x. In
2009, on the occasion of the watch's 40th anniversary, TAG Heuer introduced the CAW211A. Limited to 1,000 pieces,
the brand presented this special edition in the "McQueen" color scheme —blue dial with white subdials— a 38 mm case,
the crown on the left side, and chronograph pushers on the right. The dial offered the classic horizontal indexes
but the pushers became rectangular instead of round as seen in the original Monaco. The caseback had a unique
decoration with Jack Heuer’s signature and the edition number. Hidden under this decoration was the in-house Calibre
11, a modular movement based on the Sellita SW300 and a Dubois-Dépraz module. This was a nice coincidence that
echoes the original Calibre 11 and its chronograph module, a Dubois-Dépraz as well.