TAG Heuer creates a one-off Monaco “Dark Lord” for the Only Watch 2021 charity auction
Famously worn on the wrist of Steve McQueen during the 1970 film Le Mans, the iconic square-case TAG Heuer Monaco has been a beacon of aesthetic brilliance and casual cool for over 50 years. During that time, numerous limited editions and special references have come and gone, and one that appeared fleetingly in the mid-1970s was the mythical “Dark Lord”.
Officially known as Reference 74033N, the Monaco featured a black-PVD-coated case that led to collectors christening it “Dark Lord”. The timepiece never made an appearance in a company catalogue or in any of the brand’s advertising, giving the Dark Lord a mysterious and mythical vibe. Today, the Dark Lord is highly prized by collectors, with examples very rarely surfacing.
It’s this rarity and mythical status that TAG Heuer is channelling as it supports the 2021 Only Watch charity auction. Founded in 2005 by Luc Pettavino, former president of the Monaco Yacht show, Only Watch auctions one-off timepieces donated by the world’s leading watch brands. Under the Patronage of HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, Only Watch has raised over $110 million in support of research project into Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
“We wanted to support this magnificent initiative with a unique and memorable watch that celebrated a legend from our past, but that also showcased our passion for fine watchmaking, innovation, aesthetics and avant-garde,” explained TAG Heuer CEO, Frédéric Arnault. “The TAG Heuer Only Watch Carbon Monaco is that watch.”
The brand has previously used carbonfibre on the 2018 Monaco Bamford, but for the Only Watch Carbon Monaco, the forged carbon case has been designed to carry the largest sapphire crystal caseback ever used on a Monaco. This huge opening remains water resistant and is a window to TAG Heuer’s in-house Heuer 02 automatic chronograph movement that boasts an 80-hour power reserve.
Of course, for this exclusive one-off timepiece, the Heuer 02 movement has been customised with hours of hand-applied decoration (10 different types of hand finishing techniques have been used) and a ground-breaking carbon hairspring. Develop by the TAG Heuer Institute, the carbon hairspring is shock resistance and stable across a wide range of temperatures, plus it features extremely high levels of anti-magnetism.
The TAG Heuer Only Watch Carbon Monaco appears to be presented on a metal bracelet, but it actually sits on a unique leather strap. To create this mind-bending finish, the leather is injected with silicon and hot-stamped with a mould in the shape of a metal-link bracelet. It’s a technique never before used by TAG Heuer.
The unique TAG Heuer Only Watch Carbon watch will be auctioned at Only Watch 2021, which is scheduled to take place this year in Geneva on 6 November.