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Dispatch from Monaco.

Last month in our coverage of the Formula 1 race in Monaco, I spoke about the grand fete hosted by TAG Heuer during the much celebrated event. This month we feature some of the other aspects of the race – such as the specific timepieces.

Ferrari’s F1 team took the top two spots at the Grand Prix, with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen taking the first and second spots, respectively. Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo came in third. What stood out to me was the sheer narrowness of the streets coupled with the tight turns throughout. I really got a true feeling for it after a lap on the race route.

TAG Heuer has long been involved with motorsports. Ariel did his best Anthony Bourdain with his Chasing Time video at the Indianapolis 500 last year. You’ll remember he accompanied the lucky winner of the 2015 Watch & Experience Giveaway where he won a trip to the race and got his own Carrera timepiece.

With any race there is the possibility of a crash. This year, there was no serious incident during the race, though Pascal Wehrlein’s clash with Jenson Button was a notable exception. What was fascinating to watch during the qualifying sessions was a minor crash (not sure of the driver) where the front right wheel blew out. Nearly a dozen pit crew guys go onto the track during the race to pick up debris and secure the car to an attachment from a crane which lifts the crashed vehicle out of the race.

There have been cinematic representations of the race, for example the 1971 classic Steve McQueen film, Le Mans about the 24 hour race in France depicted its star wearing a 1133B Monaco with the rest being history. The nostalgia-tinted lens both the movie and McQueen are looked through often leave out the fact that both the production process of Le Mans as well as its box office reception were something of a disaster. Released about two years ago, the documentary Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans presents a compelling behind the scenes look at not only the making of the film, but the man behind it. A film with no script and a director (John Sturges, who directed The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape) who quits the movie in frustration saying he’s “too old and too rich” to deal with McQueen who, in part, was fighting against having a typical Hollywood movie, and a star at the helm in McQueen who nearly gets himself killed in a car accident while driving his mistress home sounds like a recipe for failure. And it was, at least at the time.

Between 1969 and 1975, Heuer released several iterations of the Monaco. In 1998 TAG Heuer (renamed after Techniques d’Avant-Garde bought the company in 1985) released the first re-edition Monaco in a limited run.

TAG Heuer’s long standing connection to motorsports is both a result of branding as well as incredible luck, and the Monaco Grand Prix was an incredible place to not only view the year’s biggest F1 race but to try out some incredible watches.

TRIBUTE TO SENNA

TAG Heuer pays homage to racing champion. TRIBUTE TO SENNA TAG Heuer pays homage to racing champion.

The talent and panache of Ayrton Senna ensured he left a lasting mark on Formula 1, more so than any driver before or since. “Magic Senna” is considered by his peers to be one of the greatest drivers the world has ever seen: three world championship titles (1988, 1990 and 1991), 65 pole positions, and 41 Grand Prix victories. The latter include the Monaco Grand Prix, which he won for the first time in 1987.

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of this victory, TAG Heuer is releasing three new limited edition watches in tribute to the driver. These were unveiled at an exclusive preview during the inauguration of the new boutique in Monaco, attended by a very special guest, Bianca Senna, the champion’s niece.

For the first time, TAG Heuer’s famous Heuer-01 proprietary movement is paired with the Senna design codes. With an imposing 45 mm case, the Carrera Heuer-01 chronograph in black brushed steel with touches of red houses the skeleton dial and sapphire case back, allowing the precision engineering of the Manufacture movement to be admired.

The other pieces in the series are two Formula 1 models, one of which is the chronograph version, TAG Heuer’s archetypal “motor racing” model. Both watches are 43 mm in diameter and black, highlighted with touches of red, a combination which is a clear nod to the spirit of high speed racing. The dial features three red lines, hinting at the tracks left by a speeding race car. The chronograph version features a quartz movement accurate to a tenth of a second – an indispensable feature in a motor racing watch – powering the small counter at 6 o’clock, with the minute counter at 9 o’clock and the running seconds counter at 3 o’clock

The three watches in this limited edition all proudly display the famous stylised red lacquer “S”, the exclusive Senna symbol, on the dial and bezel. The bezel also has a minute track, lending the pieces a racing feel and evoking the exceptional skill of Senna. Of course, they are all available with the iconic bracelet with S-shaped links, as adopted by Ayrton at the height of his achievements. It is both an iconic design and a standard bearer in terms of ergonomics and wearer comfort. On the Carrera Heuer-01 model, each link is rounded on the top, bottom and sides for an exceptionally smooth feel on the wrist.

Three sporty and classy watches, reflecting the spirit of the man who featured in the original #DontCrackUnderPressure campaign in 1991.

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