When starring in the hit racing film, “Le Mans” (1971), Hollywood legend Steve McQueen playing pro racer Michael Delaney almost picked the Omega Speedmaster for his on-screen prop. A lasti-minute decision led him to choose the Heuer Monaco after the prop manager pointed out the Heuer badge on his uniform. Now, decades later, the historic timepiece is coming to the New York Auction on December 12th, 2020.
McQueen gifted the watch to the production’s chief mechanic, Haig Altounian, on the last day of filming with a simple statement “(Thanks) keeping me alive all these months.” Engraved with the sentimental message: “To Haig Le Mans 1970”. the chief mechanic treasured the item for years before storing in a safety deposit box for nearly 50 years.
Naturally, the Heuer Monaco model wasn’t a top seller until it hit the silver screen adorning the famed Steve McQueen. The watch brand even still uses the “Le Mans” film and McQueen’s photos to promote and market the piece, reminding the public of it’s iconic stamp on history. “At the time this watch was very futurist, very avant-garde and it still is today,” says Frederic Arnault,
Tag Heuer’s CEO, “It’s so mythical to be able to say this is the watch being sold.”
Six different Tag Heuer Monacos were actually used during filming and production – four went to prop manager Nunley, one to McQueen’s financial manager, and one to Haig Altounian. Some have been lost amongst the years after filming, however one came up for auction in 2009 and sold for $87,600 with another going for sale in 2012 for $799,500. “In terms of glamour, of fame, it is the most important [Tag Heuer watch],” Tag Heuer’s Heritage Director, Catherine Eberle-Devaux, stated.
The iconic timepiece is coming to Phillips’ Racing Pulse auction on Saturday, December 12th with an anticipated seven-figure sum.
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