Monza, 40 Years Past

A look at the history behind TAG Heuer’s latest Monza Chronograph.

BY Daniel Goh | Nov 4, 2016 | Feature

Just the other day, a friend of mine asked me if I knew much about TAG Heuer’s Monaco watches. Of course within the industry, to say that Monaco watches are well-known would be quite the understatement. Everyone is familiar with the story of how the watch was created in 1969 then subsequently in 1971 reached international acclaim when it appeared on the wrist of Steve McQueen in the film Le Mans. But after telling him all I knew about the Monaco, I started thinking about TAG Heuer’s Monza collection, a collection that is possibly the lesser known of the two but still has its legs in motorsports heritage, and then some.

The Heuer Monza Chronograph was a watch created 40 years ago in 1976 as a celebration of Niki Lauda's first world championship title with Ferrari during the 1975 Formula One season. At the time Heuer were the sponsors and official timekeepers of Scuderia Ferrari so the reference to Monza, Italy makes sense and also, rumour has it that back in the 1920s Enzo Ferrari used to dominate the Monza track racing for Alfa Romeo.

Anybody invested in F1 will tell you that Niki Lauda was a legitimate badass of the racing world. In 1975 he won the world championship racing with Scuderia Ferrari but his story would take a more dramatic turn come 1976 during the Grand Prix in West Germany. There were serious safety concerns regarding the legendary Nordschleife section of the Nürburgring and Lauda, even though he was the fastest driver on that circuit at the time, urged his other racers to boycott the race. Inspite of this, the race went on and during the second lap, Lauda lost control of his car, which hit an embankment and then burst into flames. Suffering serious burns, toxic gas inhalation, and even at one point fell into a coma, Lauda still returned to the track just two races after Nürburgring, in Monza, Italy-bandages still wrapped around his face during the press conference. #DontCrackUnderPressure indeed.

The new Heuer Monza Chronograph returns to its roots. Clad in the same magnificent coussin case that was inspired by a inspired by a 1925 model this new update uses grade 5 titanium as the case material-as opposed to steel-making the watch not only lighter on the wrist but also more shock resistant. Oh and the matte black finish just gives it that bold, rugged appeal. Celebrating 40 years since the original Monza designed by Jack Heuer- the great grandson of the brand's founder-the watch brings back the pulsometer and tachymeter scale and even the historic Heuer logo on its dial.