Watches Born in the purple: The color behind the most royal TAG Heuer Monaco yet

5 min

Take a journey through time, from the color purple’s majestic origins to TAG Heuer’s most noble timepiece yet.

TAG Heuer Monaco Purple (CBL2118.FC6518)

There’s something about the color purple. Many centuries ago, it was considered an exotic and rare color. Over time, it has maintained its alluring nature. From the birthing chambers of the Byzantine Empire to cultural movements to the color that graces the new TAG Heuer Monaco, purple has come a long way. Just a few weeks ago, the United Kingdom celebrated the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. During the festivities, there was one stand-out color: purple. The Jubilee emblem was purple. The buntings were purple. Even the red London buses were wrapped in purple. Flip through history books and you’ll discover that purple has been the color of choice amongst royals, and sometimes rebels, for generations. So we’re going to take you on a journey through time, from purple’s majestic origins to TAG Heuer’s most royal timepiece yet.

TAG Heuer Monaco Purple (CBL2118.FC6518)

Born in the purple

If you were a member of the public during the reign of certain Roman emperors, you could’ve been sentenced to death for wearing purple. The color was reserved for Roman royalty. King Cyrus, the Persian king, embraced a purple tunic as his royal uniform. The Byzantine Empire also had a particular affinity to the hue. Its rulers wore flowing purple robes and used purple ink to sign edicts. Byzantine empresses gave birth to their children in the “Purple Chamber”, unwittingly birthing the phrase “born in the purple.” The Purple Chamber distinguished the royals born into royalty from the aristocrats who seized or won their titles.

Of molluscs and monarchs

It’s around 1200 BC in the ancient Phoenician city of Tyre, where modern day Lebanon stands. This is the center of the purple dye trade. The phoenicians had created Tyrian purple, a dye that was difficult to produce and therefore, exceedingly rare. To make it, you needed a certain species of sea snail, a certain amount of sunlight and plenty of labor. Basically, dye makers cracked open the snails’ shells, extracted a purple-producing mucus and exposed it to sunlight for a very specific amount of time. The result was a vibrant and long-lasting shade of purple. 

The price tags for clothes made from the dye were mind boggling. Obviously this made purple clothing the preserve of the rich and the powerful. But with the fall of the Byzantine Empire in the 15th century came the fall in popularity of purple. That is until the 1850s, when the first synthetic dyes brought purple back into fashion.

TAG Heuer Monaco Purple (CBL2118.FC6518)

The purple patch

Purple made a real resurgence in the 20th century. It was Austrian painter Gustav Kilmt’s favorite hue. He filled his paintings with whimsical violets and plush purples. Back in the upper echelons of society, King George VI wore purple in his official portrait. The color was also used as a motif across almost every feature of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953. From the invites to the ceremony, purple became a color that symbolized the modern Elizabethan era. While purple retained its regal connection, it also trickled down into the realms of social change. The suffragettes used purple in the early decades of the century. The counterculture movement adopted the color in the ‘60s. And the feminists harnessed the hue in the ‘70s. Famous musicians used the color in the titles of their songs and some bands brought purple into their names. By the turn of the century, politicians and business leaders started wearing violet or purple neckties. To them, the color combined the confidence of a red necktie with the sense of trust of a blue one. How far purple has come.

TAG Heuer Monaco Purple (CBL2118.FC6518)

Royalty on your wrist

We’ve matched the regal history of the color purple with the rich history of our TAG Heuer Monaco. This legendary timepiece has been adorned with many different hues. Black, blue, red, green, even gray. Now it’s time for the coronation of the purple TAG Heuer Monaco. Graced with a refined purple dial and embellished with a smoked effect, the new TAG Heuer Monaco gives your wrist the royal treatment. The dial is escorted by black opaline subcounters and encased in a fine brushed and polished steel case. The back of every case is individually numbered. Here, you’ll also notice a neat little detail: a purple oscillating mass and column wheel. The watch’s black leather strap has a purple lining. The perfect companion to a distinguished timepiece. If you’d like to find out more about the noble timepiece, take a royal detour here.