Although he became one of American cinema’s great legends, Steve McQueen’s early years showed little promise. The man who said, “If I hadn’t made it as an actor, I might have wound up a hood” was a tough, self-reliant kid who chafed against authority. As a teen, he found himself in the California Junior Boy’s Republic – a home for wayward boys. Although at the time he tried to run away, McQueen later credited the Boy’s Republic for setting him on the straight and narrow, and was a longtime supporter of the organisation.
After an eventful stint in the Marines, he chanced into acting. McQueen worked hard at his craft, later going on to work with the most respected directors of his generation, among them Sam Peckinpah, Norman Jewison, and John Sturges. His film roles in Bullitt, The Great Escape, The Thomas Crown Affair, and Le Mans have often been imitated, but no one ever comes close to reproducing Steve’s charismatic brand of easy masculinity.
A lifelong passion for motor racing was fostered early on. McQueen once said, “I’m not sure if I’m an actor who races, or a racer who acts.” He found a way to combine the two interests in the 1971 cult film, Le Mans. McQueen plays driver Michael Delaney, racing his Porsche 917 in the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race.
To prepare for his role, McQueen moved into a driver’s trailer next to the track so he could eat, sleep, live and breathe motor racing. While shadowing professional driver Jo Siffert, Steve noticed that Siffert wore a Monaco. Wanting to to appear as authentic as possible, he wasted no time ordering one for himself.
In the film, his TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre 12 chronograph clearly visible, McQueen displays the ice-cool presence which has helped the Monaco to its current iconic status.
Steve McQueen saw his career as a constant challenge: an opportunity to push himself ever further. This same spirit lives on in professional racing, and in the TAG Heuer ethos of constant evolution.