If expensive classic watches are your thing, you’ll be interested to know that the actual Heuer Monaco timepiece worn on-screen by ‘King of Cool’ himself, Steve McQueen in the 1971 movie, Le Mans has sold for an eye-watering $2,208,000.
Introduced in 1969, Heuer’s Monaco was one of the world’s first self-winding chronograph wristwatches, housing Heuer’s legendary Caliber 11. It was also the world’s first water-resistant square-cased watch.
Designed by Jack Heuer, the oversized square-shaped blue dialled watch was chosen by McQueen as the authentic chronograph of choice for his racing character when the shooting of Le Mans began exactly 50 years ago, in 1970.
Classic fans will remember the famous American legend for his numerous acting expeditions via the usual block-busting movies, including The Thomas Crown Affair, Bullitt, The Getaway, The Cincinnati Kid, Papillon, The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape and of course Le Mans but the iconic star didn’t always have such fame and fortune on his wrist or at his magical fingertips.
On the 24th March 1930, Terence Steven McQueen was delivered into a world looking for its next hero. Son of Julia Ann and stunt pilot William Terence McQueen, the beginnings were indeed tough from outset, with mother and father abandoning the future legend before he reached the grand old age of 4. Parental duties were duly inherited by grandparents Victor and Lillian in Slater, Missouri, during one of the harshest economic times in American history.
Times were tough with America’s economy struggling to meet any demands its citizens were expecting of it. Like many, the newly forged McQueen family were forced to relocate, choosing a farmhouse in Slater with Lillian’s brother Claude. It was from there that the youngster was introduced to an early world of racing by his uncle Claude, receiving a red tricycle on his fourth birthday.
The Hollywood icon’s less-is-more approach to life has become synonymous with famous brands, none more so than his close relationship with TAG Heuer. Since wearing the square-dialled Heuer Monaco on his wrist in Le Mans (1971), the blue-eyed actor and blue-faced watch became forever linked, with McQueen acting as an ambassador of the brand’s ‘Don’t Crack Under Pressure’ mantra.
Fast forward some 40 years after his untimely death and the tenacious star is still worshipped by classic fans around the world. An almost subconscious synergistic connection between movie, star and themselves allow escapism to the extreme.
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Did You Know…
As well as being a TAG legend, McQueen is still celebrated as the ultimate King of Cool. Below, we shine a light on a few lesser-known facts about the star that only add to his everlasting charm.
- His father was a stunt pilot for a barnstorming flying circus and left his mother shortly after meeting her.
- He was once caught red-handed by police while he stole hubcaps, and handed over to his stepfather, who beat him severely.
- McQueen was offered the male lead in Breakfast at Tiffany’s but couldn’t accept due to other commitments.
- The actor would demand free items such as electric razors and jeans from studios while filming with them. Later it was revealed that all items went to the California Junior Boys Republic reformatory in Chino Hills where he spent his childhood.
- He volunteered to serve on a ship once he left the California Junior Boys Republic reformatory at the age of 16. On reaching the Dominican Republic with the crew, he abandoned the ship and got a job as a towel boy in a brothel.
- A pair of blue-tinted Persol sunglasses worn by McQueen in The Thomas Crown Affair was auctioned off in 2006, selling for $70,200.
Full auction results can be found here.