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The king of Cool: What watches did Steve McQueen wear?

The American film star Steve McQueen was known for starring in action and racing movies. Luckily for us, this is not the only thing ‘The King of Cool’ is known for! Steve McQueen has been seen wearing some amazing watches in the different movies he has been playing in. Some of these might be the most iconic pieces that are still around now a days. Lets take a look at the beautiful timepieces Steve McQueen has been seen wearing!

The Tag Heuer Monaco as seen in the movie ‘Le Mans’

The TAG Heuer Monaco stands out as a flagship timepiece within the TAG Heuer collection, having made its debut in 1969 as one of the pioneering automatic chronographs. Just two years later, the renowned actor Steve McQueen sported the TAG Heuer on his wrist in the film 'Le Mans.'This watch has also been worn on the wrist of the F1 driver Max Verstappen. Following its storied history, enthusiasts can now acquire a vintage TAG Heuer Monaco with reference numbers 1133 and 1533. The vintage models run on a Calibre 11 Chronomatic, a movement also featured in the Heuer Autavia and Carrera models. Alternatively, you can find the manual-wound Valjoux variations equipped with the calibers 7736 and 7740.

With numerous special and limited editions, there’s always a TAG Heuer for every budget. When you’re in the market for a TAG Heuer Monaco, be ready to spend at least €3.000 for the ETA powered CW2111 TAG Heuer Monaco. The vintage pieces are a bit more expensive, costing close to €16.000 on Wristler. The special edition WAW2170 with the V4 Calibre from TAG Heuer the watch will cost you well over €70.000 if you’re lucky enough to find one.

Tag Heuer Autavia

Staying with the brand Tag Heuer, the Heuer Autavia has also been seen on Steve McQueen’s wrist. He was often seen sporting the TAG Heuer Autavia in various situations, contributing to the watch's reputation and desirability among enthusiasts. The Autavia model that McQueen favored featured a distinct design with a rotating bezel and sub-dials, making it a reliable and aesthetically pleasing chronograph. While the Heuer Monaco is perhaps more commonly associated with McQueen due to its appearance in the film "Le Mans," the Autavia remains an essential part of his watch legacy. 

Both the Monaco and the Autavia showcase McQueen's appreciation for TAG Heuer's precision timepieces and their ability to complement his rugged and adventurous lifestyle. Today, vintage TAG Heuer Autavia watches with historical significance, especially those associated with Steve McQueen, are highly sought after by collectors. Pricing wise, these watches vary a lot. Because of the small amount of for sale, vintage pieces sell for upwards of €10.000. Newer models with a dark dial and a date function, running on the COSC Chronometre certified calibre 5, start to sell for close to €2.000.

Rolex Explorer II “Steve McQueen”

Stepping away from the brand Tag Heuer, the brand Rolex is closely associated with Steve McQueen aswell. He has been seen wearing a numerous different Rolex pieces. One of the most notable is definitely  the Rolex Explorer II Steve McQueen bearing the reference number 1655. This 4 digit explorer II first came in to production in 1971, and discontinued in the year 1985. The watch was only produced for 14 years, and is not seen often. The most sought after variation is the one with the orange ‘pumpkin’ 24h hand, also known as the ‘II Freccione’. This is Italian for ‘Big Arrow’.

These Explorer II models are powered by the 1575 caliber. This is a modified version of the 1570 caliber, which was used in for instance the Submariners from that era, but then also featured a 24h hand. Let’s take a look at the prices. The Explorer II ref. 1655 starts at somewhere around €25.000 for the White/Albino version. The prices range up to €39.000 for the rarer and more sought after ‘Freccione’ pieces.

McQueen’s Rolex Submariner 5512

One of the most iconic watches that has ever been produced by Rolex is definitely the Rolex Submariner 5512. Aside from the great looks of the watch, and the historical importance of this piece, this particular Submariner was also worn by ‘The King of Cool’. Steve Mcqueen was often seen with his Submariner 5512. His 5512 featured 4 lines of text on the dial which means he had the chronometer-certified model, which means his watch was extremely accuret for the time. The 5512 was the very first Rolex Submariner which featured crownguards, to protect the crown from being bashed against something, and not working perfectly anymore. A fun fact: Steve McQueen wore his watches on his right arm, rather then his left arm. The more you know!

The dark Submariner No Date 5512 are getting rarer now a days, and are not seen for sale often. The few that are for sale, sell for anywhere from €15.000 up to €33.000 depending on the rarity of the configuration. The Bart Simpson 5512s, feature a Bart Simpson like Rolex Crown, and sell for upwards of €30.000. The actual watch Steve McQueen wore has been gifted by him to his good friend Jimmy Brucker in 1980. In 2009 however, this specific watch went up for sale on an auction. The watch fetched $234.000, so you can imagine what that would be worth now a days!

The Timeless Elegance of Steve McQueen

Steve McQueen, revered as 'The King of Cool',  not only graced the silver screen with his action-packed roles but also left an indelible mark as a style icon, showcasing a penchant for exquisite watches. From the iconic TAG Heuer Monaco, featured prominently in 'Le Mans,' to the rugged elegance of the Autavia, McQueen's wrist adorned timepieces that mirrored his distinctive lifestyle. Rolex, another brand closely associated with McQueen, contributed the rare and coveted Explorer II reference 1655, known as the "Steve McQueen," and the historic Submariner 5512, featuring chronometer certification and crownguards. Each watch tells a story of timeless elegance and enduring style, reflecting McQueen's unique taste in horology.

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