Steve McQueen’s Heuer Monaco is the most expensive Heuer wristwatch ever sold

The already iconic Heuer Monaco by TAG Heuer continues to cement its legendary status in the world of horology. Famously worn by Steve McQueen in the racing film, Le Mans (1971), the Heuer Monaco was first introduced in 1969, becoming the world’s first waterproof, self-winding chronograph set in a square-shaped case.

Designed by Jack Heuer, the great-grandson of TAG Heuer founder, Edouard Heuer, the watch was named after the famed Formula One racetrack, and was subsequently selected by Steve McQueen himself for use in Le Mans. McQueen wore a total of six Heuer Monaco throughout filming.

The Heuer Monaco as worn by Steve McQueen in the film Le Mans (1971).

Record-breaker

Last December, the last of those six models was auctioned at the flagship Phillips RACING PULSE auction in New York City. As one of the star items at the auction, the Heuer Monaco generated record online attendance at the live-streamed event. Opening with a bid of US$200,000, an exhilarating 7-minute bidding war would soon see the iconic timepiece go under the hammer for a whopping US$2,208,000—securing a new record for a Heuer item, thus becoming the most expensive Heuer wristwatch ever sold.

“Steve McQueen and his Heuer Monaco not only became one of the most recognised and celebrated timepieces of the last century, but it forever shaped the culture of TAG Heuer,” shared Frédéric Arnault, CEO of TAG Heuer. “We have been humbled by the excitement within the watch community leading up to the auction, and this record result is a testament to the historic importance and continued legacy of this Heuer timepiece.”

A special dedication to mechanic Haig Alltounian, engraved at the back of the Heuer Monaco.

McQueen had kept two of the Heuer Monacos from Le Mans, and at the end of filming, he had actually gifted this particular watch to the film’s chief mechanic, who was also McQueen’s personal mechanic, Haig Alltounian. Consigned directly by Alltounian, the watch’s case back reveals an engraving “TO HAIG LE MANS 1970”, a special dedication to him by McQueen.