We admit that MotoringExposure should have been covering the TAG Heuer Monaco chronograph before, but we couldn’t find the right moment. Although TAG Heuer introduced a re-edition of the very first model and the fact that Steve McQueen wore one when playing in Le Mans could not bring us to report on this watch, since everybody else did already. We now found a great reason, the very ref.1133B Monaco watch that Formula 1 racer Gianclaudio “Clay” Regazzoni (1939 – 2006) wore during his 5 Grand Prix championships between 1970 and 1980.
Going through the results of auction house Sotheby’s, we stranded on this Heuer Monaco that fetched 16.520 CHF / 14,900 USD. Now, these are very wanted time pieces, but even this kind of money made us suspect that there was something going on with it. And indeed, after visiting the Sotheby’s website, it became clear that it was previously owned by Clay Regazzoni, Swiss racing car driver that was forced to stop racing Formula 1 after a racing accident in 1980. However, he did not stop racing cars until 1996. Using hand controlled racing cars, he still competed in the Paris Dakar rally and the 12 hours of Sebring.
Being part of the Scuderia Ferrari team for the first couple of years, Clay Regazzoni also raced for BRM, Ensign, Shadow and Williams. In total he raced 139 times between 1970 and 1980.
The Monaco ref.1133B he was likely to have on his wrist during at least a number of races, is identical to the one used by Steve McQueen in LeMans (1971). The watch auctioned included a letter of Clay Regazzoni to proof it is authentic and that he bought this timepiece in 1971 for 80 USD. Heuer introduced the Monaco chronograph in 1969, being one of the first mechanical automatic chronograph timepieces. Together with Breitling, Heuer used the caliber 11 movement that consists of an add-on Dubois-Depraz module for the chronograph functionality on top of a basic movement that indicates hours, minutes, seconds and a date.
The typical left sided crown makes this watch easy to recognize between the later Monaco models who have the crown and pushers all on the right side of the watch case. This blue dialed version, with white sub-registers for the 30-minute and 12-hour totalizers make this watch identical to the one worn by Steve McQueen in LeMans. My guess is that Clay either noticed Jo Siffert wearing his Heuer in races or noticed it during the 1971 LeMans movie and got his in the same year of that movie. When it comes to style and a certain image that needs to fit a specific profession like car racing, there is no such thing like the coincidence that these 1970 playboys were all wearing the same type of watches.
The ref.1133B Monaco can be found on the vintage watch market for approximately 5.500 Euro / 6,980 USD. Also, Clay Regazzoni was known to be sponsored by Heuer and therefore has worn other models as well, such as the Heuer Silverstone model (as pictured on his wrist in one of the images). However, the authentication letter that came with this particular Heuer timepiece states that he paid 80 USD for it, so this must have been before his sponsorship contract with Heuer.