McQueen's "Le Mans" Watch Sets an Auction Record
One of the most famous watches ever seen on film has set a record at auction: The TAG Heuer Monaco worn by Steve McQueen in the 1971 racing film Le Mans recently sold for $2.3 million, a record for a TAG Heuer watch, during “Racing Pulse,” a sale of celebrity-owned and other timepieces at Phillips auction house on Dec. 12.
Introduced in 1969, the TAG Heuer Monaco was a bit of a gamechanger in the watch industry, not only as one of the world’s first self-winding chronographs, but also because of its distinctive square-shaped dial. An avid racing enthusiast, McQueen indeed was attracted to the Monaco’s look and personally chose it to wear in Le Mans, a fictional story that takes place during the 24-hour Grand Prix race. (The actor’s love of racing and the film’s production are discussed in the 2015 documentary Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans.)
McQueen reportedly wore six Monacos throughout filming. He personally gifted the piece headed to the auction block to Haig Altounian, his personal mechanic and the chief mechanic on Le Mans, who consigned the piece to Phillips. The back of the watch indeed is engraved, “To Haig Le Mans 1970.”
A Paul Newman Rolex and watches owned by Sylvester Stallone were also part of the Dec. 12 event. For more details, check out the Phillips auction page.