The 24 Hours of Le Mans took place this weekend at France’s Circuit de la Sarthe, and TAG Heuer, the watch brand with perhaps the most legendary connection to auto racing, took the opportunity in the days leading up to the race to introduce its latest racing-influenced timepieces, which pay tribute to an historic Le Mans victory in 1968. Here’s what you need to know about the new TAG Heuer Formula 1 Gulf Special Edition and the 50-piece Monaco Gulf Limited Edition.
The newest model from TAG Heuer’s Formula 1 collection sports the orange-and-blue colors of Gulf Oil, a TAG Heuer partner, echoing the Gulf livery on the Ford GT 40 that won its first victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans nearly 50 years ago, on September 29, 1968. The 43-mm diameter case is made of steel, with a tachymeter-scale bezel insert made of blue aluminum. The steel crown, flanked by chronograph pushers at 2 and 4 o’clock, has a black PVD coating. Under the sapphire crystal, the sunray-finished dial features two vertical stripes in light blue and orange against a dark blue background, calling to mind the Gulf logo. The numerals and indices on the 60-second scale on the black flange are in lime essence.
The Swiss quartz movement inside, behind the solid caseback engraved with the TAG Heuer and Gulf logos along with a racing-inspired checkered flag motif, powers the hours, minutes, small seconds (at 3 o’clock), date (at 4:30), and a chronograph function accurate to 1/10 second, with readouts for 1/10 seconds and elapsed minutes at 6 o’clock and 9 o’clock, respectively. White Super-LumiNova coats the rhodium-plated, polished hour and minute hands and hour indices, while orange varnish distinguishes the central chronograph seconds hand. The dark blue leather strap, with orange contrast stitching, completes the picture. The Formula 1 is priced at $1,600.
The second new release celebrating the 50th anniversary of Gulf’s first Le Mans triumph is a limited version of the Monaco Gulf that TAG Heuer released in Fall 2017, a descendant of the 1969 original, notable as the first Swiss-made automatic chronograph that was both square-shaped and waterproof, the first with a left-side winding crown. Actor Steve McQueen, portraying a character based on F1 racing legend Jo Siffert, famously wore a Monaco in the 1971 film Le Mans, and was also outfitted in the Gulf colors. The watch’s stainless steel case measures 39 mm and features alternating brushed and polished finishes and a domed, beveled sapphire crystal over the dial, which is decorated with the blue-and-orange Gulf racing stripes and a Gulf logo above the date window at 6 o’clock. The Monaco’s hallmark squared subdials display running seconds at 3 o’clock and 30 elapsed chronograph minutes at 9 o’clock. The vintage Heuer logo (sans “TAG”) appears below 12 o’clock.
Inside the watch is the modern version of the self-winding Caliber 11, one of the first automatic chronograph movements ever developed and the first to reach the market. It features a rapid date correction, a 28,800-vph balance frequency, and a 40-hour power reserve in addition to its integrated chronograph function. For this 50-piece limited edition, the sapphire viewing window in the screw-down caseback is emblazoned with the Gulf 50th anniversary emblem and the watch’s limited edition number, xx/50. The perforated blue calfskin leather strap, reminiscent of the look of racing gloves, continues the Gulf Racing livery look with its orange stitching and orange lining. The Monaco Limited Edition retails for $6,350.