The TAG Heuer Monaco Gulf Edition Calibre 11 meets the Nissan GT-R
Two different stories and two icons, born both in 1969, on a racing track
An icon can be defined like that because it overcomes trends and remains etched forever in our mind. A design object, a vintage motorcycle, a car or a jewel can last for a season or leave an indelible mark forever and that is how objects like the 500 by Dante Giacosa, the Delta HF Integrale or the Triumph Bonneville become immortal.
For TAG Heuer, the Monaco is the very essence of the brand and it has driven its image even when the brand transformed itself by entering, with Biver (who left his managerial duties in the last few days), the digital world and despite the fact that the manufacturer can boast other legendary and beloved collections like the Carrera collection.
This timepiece wasn’t simply a stylistic breakpoint with the traditional design of the early 70s, but it was also technically-advanced when it was launched in 1969; it was one of the first automatic chrono watches equipped with the legendary Chronomatic calibre. Moreover the Monaco was worn by the likes of Steve McQueen and Miles Davis - two of the natural ambassadors to the first waterproof square box in history.
Let's get ready to celebrate the first fifty years of the Monaco in 2019; we could bet already that the TAG Heuer headquarters are preparing themselves to celebrate that moment adequately with new models and, hopefully, with a new caliber too. Chronologically-speaking the Monaco has somehow survived unscathed all the crises that the brand has faced; for some years the timepiece was not being manufactured and it was born again in the early 2000s in a version with a plexiglass glass and the Calibre 17 up to the Calibre 12 that debuted the 39mm case, the sapphire crystal and better finishes.
It was then made in a version sporting the Heuer logo, the crown mounted on the left of the case like on the original Monaco and the caliber 11. The Babin era also transformed this watch into a more muscular and avant-garde version sporting the Calibre 36, with an El Primero base, which is no longer available today. The Gulf Monaco followed the evolution of the Monaco by bringing along a series of limited editions for collectors of the vintage racing genre and fans of the Monaco alike.
From 2005 to 2018 the two vertical stripes often appeared on the Monaco dial - first without the logo and the official Gulf colors, like on the CW2118 that was ideally created to celebrate Steve McQueen’s 75th birthday, then on the version that was launched in 2007 sporting the colors of the Porsche Gulf driven by the actor in the film “Le Mans” on a black dial, where the Gulf logo officially appeared for the very first time. The first two editions are still very much sought-after mainly because they both feature a glass made of plexiglass and a reasonable retail prices considering that only 8,000 specimens of these timepiece were released.
As mentioned before the first real change happened with the launch of the caliber 12. It was the moment when I bought my second Monaco chronograph following the Sixty-Nine and also the moment when the collection made a dramatic qualitative leap. The 2009 Gulf version introduced the gray dial and finishes that a CW211A did not feature.
From 2009 to 2018 TAG Heuer worked on the launch of the collection only sporting the Heuer logo, several versions were released including a Steve McQueen boutique version and the new Heuer Monaco joined the Heritage line that also includes the Monza and the Autavia. Those of you who grew up with the original Monaco reached their Nirvana when the Monaco Calibre 11 was launched because this is the latest version and the closest one to the original spirit of the Monaco.
The launch of the new Gulf edition - the result of a long-lasting licensing agreement between the company and TAG Heuer - did the rest. TAG Heuer started with the launch of the Heuer Monaco Gulf Edition last year in the United States (only), in 2018 the watch was turned it into a timepiece that is permanent part of the collection that is sold worldwide. There is also a limited series version of 50 pieces only (50 years from the first Gulf victory at Le Mans in 1968) with a bright blue dial that has already reached a collector’s price close to the version released to celebrate the first 40 years of the Monaco and createdi by Jack Heuer.
The Nissan GT-R
The Heuer Monaco Calibre 11 Gulf Edition and the Nissan GT-R have much more in common than one might think and the random resemblance between the color introduced with the latest version of Godzilla (the American nickname of the GT-R) and one of the Gulf logo stripes that appear on the Heuer Monaco Gulf Edition dial have little to do with it.
The Nissan GT-R is a modern icon among sports cars and has undergone many developments since its launch in 2007, the car has shaken the industry because it is thanks to it that Nissan has managed to show to the world that it was possible to create a sports car with a level of performance above that of Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini and with a similar appeal too.
The engine of this car is hand-assembled by a selected group of Takumi masters who place their signature on a small plate attached to the cylinder head and the GT-R comes at a price that is half the price of what you would pay for a car manufactured by one of the three brands above. The first time I read about a test race of the Nissan GT-R it was in 2008 and Alain Prost drove it for the Quattroruote magazine.
Ten years later the Nissan GT-R is still tremendously competitive and it still fills the pages and the video channels of newspapers and fans alike and it still continues to be the result of “an obsessive technical development” - as it was defined by James Oliver, the Product Manager Sports Cars of Nissan when interviewed by Autocar during the 2017 version presentation of the car that brought along significant improvements in terms of NVH and performance.
Between the first and the last GT-R version there have been improvements, increases in power and constant updates, so much so that the differences under the skin are huge and the Nismo version that broke several records at the Nurburgring racing track and that Steve Sutcliffe drove in 2014 at the Cadwell Park racing track raised the bar of this car even further. If we were to call it a modern experience we would make a serious mistake considering that the success story of this car started in 1969 with the Skyline 2000 GT-R.
It is the only sports car in the world that can achieve a 0-100 in less than 3 seconds with less than 600 horsepower and a 1700kg+ curb weight, it is equipped with a sophisticated four-wheel drive and it has beaten several records in its own category at the Nurburgring racing track. The most famous record of all still remains the record set by Michael Krumm at the Nordschleife racing track, where he achieved a time of 7:08:679.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting by Simona Bertogliatti)
Gaetano C @Horbiter-R by Horbiter®