Anatomy of an Invoice -- McQueen's Monacos

There are few associations between a hero and his watch that have the enduring strength of the connection between Steve McQueen and his Heuer Monaco, worn in the film Le Mans. Introduced in 1969 and worn by McQueen in 1970, the “McQueen Monaco” has been re-issued in numerous configurations over the last 20 years.  Pick up a magazine or visit a mall, and we see the images of the “King of Cool”, his Porsche 917, and his racing suit and racing watch.

mcqueenlemansa

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Auction Report – Three Interesting Heuers Sold Today (December 10, 2014)

Today, we saw two “live” auctions of interesting vintage Heuer chronographs, a black PVD-coated Heuer Monaco, Reference 74033, and an Abercrombie & Fitch Seafarer, Reference 2443.  In this posting, we’ll take a quick look at these two watches and the results of the sales.  We will also take a look at a Heuer Carrera, Reference 2447S that achieved a strong price in one of these auctions

Heuer Monaco, in Black PVD, Reference 74033

The Black PVD Monaco is one of the icons of the Heuer world. There has been some debate about the origins of this model — prototype versus production — but there is no debate about the scarcity and value of these watches.  Over the last decade, we have seen fewer than 20 of these watches, and this model holds the record for the highest price ever paid for a vintage Heuer, with one selling in December 2010, for approximately $75,000.  If we are lucky, in a given year, we might expect to see one of these watches offered in a public sale.  It’s December 10, and I believe that this was the first Black PVD Monaco that we saw on the auction block in 2014.

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Determining Authenticity -- Vintage Heuer Monacos

Of all the vintage Heuer chronographs that we see, the Monaco Reference 73663 B (three register, manual wind Monaco, with a blue dial) may win the prize for being the model with the highest percentage of fakes, refinished dials, replacement hands and other issues of authenticity.  In some instances, only one element has been replaced, while in others it is difficult to find any genuine Heuer components in the watch.  It is difficult to arrive at a general rule for valuing the samples that have these issues, but it would be fair to suggest that the value of these troubled watches is typically less than one-half the value of an authentic one.

This posting focuses on the Monaco Reference 73663 B, because so many of them are fake and because the information that is useful in authenticating this model (or in spotting a fake) will be useful in evaluating other versions of the Monaco.  Toward the end of this posting, we look at samples of other fake Monacos — a Caliber 12 automatic model and a two-register manual-wind model.  No doubt, however, that the lessons learned on the Reference 73663 B will be useful in examining other models.

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Heuer Timepieces in the Film Le Mans

In the community of vintage Heuer enthusiasts, the story of how Steve McQueen came to wear a Monaco chronograph in the film Le Mans has been told many times.  Indeed,  Jean-Christophe Babin, ex-CEO of TAG Heuer (2001-2013) has proclaimed that “Jack [Heuer’s] greatest achievement is to have succeeded in placing a ‘Monaco’ chronograph on the wrist of Steve McQueen during the shooting of the film Le Mans in 1970”.  Jack Heuer’s narrative of this story, in his recently published autobiography, is the authoritative version of this story.

McQueen Le Mans Banner

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The Chronomatics -- Rarest of the Vintage Heuers

For vintage watch collectors, the difference between a “grail” watch and an ordinary watch is often a matter of small details. The texture of the paint, the length of a hash mark, the style of the serifs or the aging of the lume can all affect the collectability and value of a vintage watch. The 10x loupe has become standard equipment for examining the rare ones; sometimes, we need the extra power of a microscope, just to be sure. We showed you how little details can make a difference in the Black PVD Heuer Monaco.

It’s not so nuanced, however, for those pursuing the rarest of the vintage Heuer chronographs. There is one word — located at the top dead center of the dial — that evidences the rarest of the rare in the world of vintage Heuers. The word “Chronomatic” alerts the collector that he or she has found the ultimate vintage Heuer chronograph. In this posting, we will consider where the origins of the word “Chronomatic” and provide an overview of the four (or five) models that bear this special designation.

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Heuer Monaco, Worn by McQueen -- Part Two

As described in our first posting covering the McQueen-worn Monacos, I am aware of four Heuer Monacos said to have been “worn by McQueen” during the production of the movie Le Mans, as follows:

  1. worn by McQueen during the filming of the movie, Le Mans; sold by the property master in the early 2000s; now in the TAG Heuer Museum, in Switzerland.
  2. worn by McQueen during the still photography / promotional shots for Le Mans; sold by the property master in the early 2000s; has been in the hands of four different collectors since then; to be auctioned July 31, 2012.
  3. worn by McQueen while at Le Mans and then given by McQueen to his management consultant, Bill Maher, as a gift; sold at an Antiqourum auction in June 2009, and now in private hands.
  4. worn by McQueen . . . further details not known, at least for the moment.

We started this series of postings with “Part Three” — the third Monaco listed above, the one given as a gift by Steve McQueen to his business consultant, and sold at auction in June 2009.  Today, we publish “Part Two” of the series — the second Monaco listed above, the one worn by McQueen during the still photography / promotional shots for the movie Le Mans.

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Heuer Monaco, Worn by McQueen -- Part Three

I am aware of four Heuer Monacos said to have been “worn by McQueen”, as follows:

  1. worn by McQueen during the filming of the movie, Le Mans; sold by the property master in the early 2000s; now in the TAG Heuer Museum, in Switzerland.
  2. worn by McQueen during the still photography / promotional shots for Le Mans; sold by the property master in the early 2000s; has been in the hands of four different collectors since then; to be auctioned July 31, 2012.
  3. worn by McQueen while at Le Mans and then given by McQueen to his management consultant, Bill Maher, as a gift; sold at an Antiqourum auction in June 2009, and now in private hands.
  4. worn by McQueen . . . further details not known, at least for the moment.

The story of the “worn-by-McQueen” Monacos is mysterious, with conflicting versions of the facts and as many twists and turns as the Le Mans circuit.  Thus it is fitting that we start this series of postings with “Part Three” — the third Monaco listed above, the one given as a gift by Steve McQueen to his business consultant, and sold at auction in June 2009.

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Two Recent Sales of Steve McQueen’s Le Mans Racing Suit -- $829,000 Left on the Table

If you have ever been mad at yourself for selling a watch at a price that turned out to be a shade too low, consider the case of Morry Barmak, owner of “Collector Studio”, a gallery of motorsports art and memorabilia located in Toronto, Canada.  Morry recently had the good fortune of selling Steve McQueen’s Le Mans racing suit for $155,000, and then watching his buyer “flip” it for $984,000, three and one-half months later.

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TAG Heuer Monaco 24, in the Land of Make Believe

Let’s play a game with the TAG Heuer Monaco 24, as follows:  Let’s say that you collect vintage Heuer chronographs, primarily the racing chronographs from the 1960s and 1970s (Autavia, Carrera, Monaco, Silverstone, Montreal, etc.).  You are a committed collector, who enjoys the style  and history of these watches, as well as the fact that they are reliable timepieces that you can wear on a daily basis.

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