Heuer Autavia 1563 T, Cal. 15, c1972 ‘Albino’
I bought this watch a long while back.. about 17-18 months ago. It was a bit of a punt, as it had a few issues. It had an incorrect crystal, handset from a Heuer Calculator and odd looking lume. Apart from that the case untouched and nice and sharp, plus the bracelet looked good.
This example has the ‘fat boy’ case, like that on the 1163 ‘Orange Boy’ and Siffert, the case also stamped 1563.. some were stamped 1163. Both black and silver dial versions are seen here in the 1972 Caliber 15 brochure on OTD.
The cosmetic issues bothered me, the dial/hands looked/lume/mint insert looked disjointed. A bit like having a lovely old Sub with faded insert, beautiful brown aged lume on the dial, but with brand new white hands.. it’s not a BIG deal, but it just looks wrong... same with this watch. The handset was like new, bright orange, although from a Calculator (with a paddle central sweep chrono hand), the lume on the dial was greeny.. maybe a relume, with a mint insert. Non of these elements sat well with the lovely sunbleached dial. The orange accents on the sub-dial had faded gracefully to a yellowy hue , the minute track fading to almost white.
Together with my watch guy, we tried a correct orange handset, it looked better, it was technically ‘factory correct’, but I still wasn’t ‘feeling it’ with the mixture of new & faded. (On a side note – whilst in this ‘factory correct’ state, this watch was photographed for the Autavia book!)
Eventually a white Autavia handset was tried.. and it did look much better, and had an almost ‘Super KonTiki’ vibe about it. The lume was next to get treatment. I had considered having it scraped out of the tramline hour batons, but this could be a messy/risky job, so decided to try to tint the existing lume. I aimed for a traditional honey/coffee/tobacco colour, to complement the faded sub-dial. Armed with a 0000 sized brush, and a steady hand.. several applications of tint resulted in a surprisingly fantastic finish to the lume.. beautifully textured and mottled in just the right ‘honey tobacco brown’.
In the meantime, I had been fortunate enough to win a NOS Autavia crystal on ebay. Finally the watch was sent off to have the hands relumed. Jimbo did a fantastic job, the texture was bang on the money.. but to make it have the perfect match to the dial, I tinted the hand lume just a touch with the same method as I did the dial.
The bezel insert was looking ‘too new’, being factory gloss black, so to bring it in line with the rest of the watch, I bleached it. It was a leap of faith, as I wasn’t sure what would happen. The silver of the lettering was dulled right down.. almost to matt white, but still with a hint of silver, more importantly, the gloss black had turned a really nice matt finish.
I’m now blown away by it.. the sum of the tweaked parts all come together to create something much more ‘whole’ and together. I know some may turn their nose up at it for having been artificially tinted lume, dulled down insert and an incorrect white handset, but I feel that the watch works much better in this state. For me, it’s a case of – it works better than if it was trying to be ‘factory’ correct. Plus, I’ve seen a few 1563’s over the years with heavily faded handsets and dials. Oddly, I have seen these with white hands before – sometimes called ‘Albino’, due to the loss of the colour accents. Just to finish it off perfectly, I made a distressed strap to match the lume.. and it really is a nice package now.. although, I have to admit, it looks wonderful on the signed Heuer ‘Japan’ market Beads of Rice bracelet.
This whole process has made me realise that it is the very subtle aged accents that make a vintage watch so wonderful.. and without these ‘aged’ hints on all components, it looks wrong.
Fortis Marinemaster Ref. 8001 ‘Blue’, Valjoux 72, 200m WR, c1972
Whilst browsing online, I spotted one of these and was instantly intrigued. It was a cool looking vintage sports chrono, so I delved a little deeper and liked what I saw – especially as it houses a valjoux 72 movement, features classic straight lugs and diver bezel – what’s not to like? It was actually the yellow-orange variant I was most taken by, so put out a ‘WTB’ on the Chronocentric forum, and collector JameyS in the US came to the rescue (yet again). But.. it was a ‘blue’ model. I went for it anyway, and I’m glad I did – the blue is better than I expected.
I tried it on a selection of straps (20mm).. and thankfully it seems to be an all-rounder, but the tan rally really set it off. Then I remembered that I had an old un-named Beads of Rice bracelet in a box somewhere.. I’d bought it on ebay a long while back for very little, hoping it would fit a Heuer. It didn’t, so was forgotten about… I dug it out, and it fits like a dream, and elevates the Marinemaster to a new level. The watch head is a great size too, having a 39mm case, but the bi-directional ‘slide’ bezel overhangs a little.. giving it a bigger look n feel.
The name Marinemaster, whether one word or two is usually associated with Seiko, but it seems that Fortis has been using this moniker since the 50′s. This model, dating from c1972 certainly deserves the name. Despite being a chronograph, it is rated to 200m, not bad for a ’70′s chrono.
I scoured the net looking for info, but found very little. The watch was available in two variants, one with blue accents and one with yellow/orange accents. As Fortis made a re-issue of this model recently (in blue and yellow-orange variants), I thought they could help, so fired off an email. They were good enough to get back to me in a few days, but despite the fast response and a scan of a spec sheet from the 70′s (see below), they too didn’t have any detailed information. They noted that the original MM’s were most probably from 1972, but had no production numbers. They stated that the yellow-orange model was ref. 8002.
Oddly, the only caseback photos I’ve seen of a vintage yellow-orange model had a 8001 code. The Spec Sheet that Fortis sent me states that the dial is dark grey with ‘coloured zones’, which suggests that ref. 8001 covers both yellow-orange and blue variants.. so who knows!? (If anyone knows better, please comment)
The story doesn’t end there.. whilst hunting around online for info on this watch, I stumbled upon a spare ‘yellow-orange’ dial being offered by a German watchmaker, so snapped it up… then I stumbled upon another ref 8001 blue, in mint condition located in Prague – I couldn’t believe my luck… can you see where I’m going here? Yep.. I plan to have the dial switched over on Marinemaster number 2, and I’ll have a yellow-orange variant too. Watch this space!
Ollech & Wajs Caribbean 1000 Ref. 702, ETA 2452 Auto, c1965-9
This is the earlier model from mid-late 60’s, as the serial number confirms. It also has the ‘flat’ golden triangles on the bezel. The slightly later models had ‘3D’ golden triangles – I’m not aware of any other differences, but there could well be some subtleties.
It’s not large by todays standards, at 40mm, but it wears really well and suits leather, tropic and NATO/ZULU straps very well. It has 20mm lugs, and is 16mm thick – it’s a nice compact size. It’s no bruiser, but I think it’s one of the most elegantly designed dive watches from this period.
This watch has a rich history, and I daren’t try to cover all of it. It was one of the first deep dive rated watches, with a WR of 1000m. The case is monobloc, as such, the dial & movement is accessed through the super thick 5mm crystal. One feature of this watch was that users could purchase a special tool (& spare crytals) from O&W and change the crystal themselves, supposedly quite a simple job. The crown was also triple sealed. All these ‘tech boasts’ were quite exceptional for the period, especially when you consider that it’s proven depth rating was x5 that of the Rolex Submariner.
From The Definitive O&W Info & History…
“The movement sits in a movement ring and is placed deep into the case. The crystal is held in place with a s/s screwdown retaining ring. A rubber “O” ring under the crystal and a flat rubber ring under the retaining ring insuring proper water tightness. With the bezel on, the crystal has a very low profile, the edge is barely 1/32nd above the rim and sit’s about 1/8″ higher in the middle.
The crystal is a slab of plastic, 1/8″ thick on the side, with a 1/8″ thick lip which the retaining ring presses down on. It’s the top that’s interesting. Due to the lower sitting movement. The crystal has a very shallow curve on the underside matching that of the top. Between inside and out, is a 5 MM thickness of plastic.”
O&W wanted to offer a robust and capable dive watch to the US, but be cheaper than rivals by cutting out middle-men. They were advertised in outdoor sports, military and aviation type magazines. As such, they became quite popular with US soldiers & special forces who were off to Vietnam. I received correspondence from someone (I forget where – I’ve got a new laptop and lost the source) who said something along the lines of “Seiko usually takes the honour of being the ‘popular mil watch’ during Vietnam, but many failed, and the O&W was the ‘must have’ watch”. (Seiko fans – these are not my words!)
In March 1968, Robert D Howard, Diving Supervisor for Global Marine Inc. wrote a letter to O&W regarding a 4 month extreme field test of two O&W watches, the Ref. 702 being one of them. They were tested without any special precautions in various tough deep dive environments and didn’t miss a beat. (Scans of the letter in the link below).
Courtesy of ‘The Definitive O&W Info & History’ thread on thewatchforum.
For those interested in 70’s TV.. Bodie & Doyle apparently wore this model in the show ‘The Professionals’
More info on this watch is available here on the excellent Scubawatch.
Heuer Autavia 2446C Tachy (Early), Valjoux 72, c1968-69
I bought this wonderful watch back in July, and I can’t believe it’s taken so long to get it on the blog. I may as well get it out of the way now.. I think this is my favourite watch – in fact, I think it’s one of the best looking vintage watches out there. I know that might raise a few eyebrows, but it’s only my humble opinion.. but I really do think it’s perfect for me.
I do have a soft spot for the Valjoux 72 Heuers, having 3 others, but this one is definitely my favourite. I think it’s the simple monotone design coupled with that perfect coffee coloured lume. It came my way through a ‘want to buy’ request on the OTD Heuer forum, and fellow Heuerista, Jamey came up trumps with this cracker. It did originally arrive with a rather battered min/hour bezel… but I happened to have a NOS Tachy bezel in the back of the drawer, and it transformed the look spectacularly. The watch has seen some life, not being a safe queen.. the case having slight battle scars, but it is nice and sharp and unpolished. I actually like it all the more for the ‘non-mintness’, as I don’t pamper it, it has become almost a daily wearer. In fact, I enjoy it so much, it has made me realise that I have far too many watches that I rarely wear.
So, it’s a circa 1968-9 compressor case model, and fairly large for a watch from that era, being 41mm without the crown. Although this is an earlier 2446C model, this is a later version of this particular mk/generation, having a plain caseback and fluted pushers. The model that came after it featured red highlights and different hands/hour batons.. see it here. The correct metal bracelet for it is a Gay Frères (GF) beads of rice, but they are hard to find and cost a small fortune. I had this old jubilee bracelet in my box of straps, which suits it nicely – but this watch is perfectly at home on a NATO, dress leather or vintage style rally.
Recently discovered photos show James Hunt wearing a Compression cased Autavia, most probably a 2446. It seems he was a bit of a Heuer fan, with other photos showing him wearing a panda dial Carrera 2447NS, many years after it was released (on both a GF and rally strap), and possibly wearing a gold Carrera 1158.
Heuer Autavia 2446C GMT Mk4, Valjoux 724, c1970/71
Like most Heuer collectors, I have a thing for any of the GMT’s, and while most are popular amongst the Heueristas, it’s the 2446 examples that seem to be highly appreciated by the wider watch world. Maybe it’s the classic styling and the Valjoux 72 based movement (v724), either way it’s a prized watch. I did have a 2446C GMT already, albeit with a very faded bezel, and I was in the process of contemplating having the bezel milled out and an aftermarket insert fitted (the bezels on these are one piece, you can’t just replace the insert – it’s printed directly on a solid bezel). Then, this beautiful example came along.
It was a little serendipitous, as the seller – a fellow collector in the US saw my ‘Mitsukoshi’ panda dial Speedmaster conversion, and we chatted via email as he wanted to do the very same mod. Which he eventually did, and was so pleased with the outcome, he listed this stunning GMT on the Heuer forum. I spotted it and fired an email, and it was mine.. thanks Jim, I owe you a beer!
So, what can I say about this lovely thing – well, it’s a 2446C Mk4, the last GMT in the 2446C case, and it’s a marvel, in amazing condition having spent many years in California, them onto Jim in Indiana, then onto me.
Together with it’s younger son, the 11063 GMT - last of the Autavia GMTs.
White chrono hand mystery…
Common knowledge would say this has a white central chrono hand from an earlier model – (which is something I’m pleased about, I think it looks much better with a white hand, usually seen on the 2446 screwback, I don’t know why Heuer changed to red!). The odd thing is, I did some digging around some of the old catalogues to see if indeed it should have a red hand, and I can’t be absolutely sure it should actually be red. I found some back and white line drawings in some of the catalogues, and it looks white – but this just might be artistic license in the line drawings. Also, in the history section of the TAG Heuer website, they have a photo of this same model with a white hand, also with a rather fetching lime green/yellow GMT hand. This is of interest, as the later GMTs hand this greeny/yellow hand, so maybe it is a transitional ‘last in production’ model. Note that TAG Heuer have stated ’69, but that is for the 2446 model range, not that specific watch.
Either way, I prefer the white hand, and if I ever spot a greeny/yellow GMT hand, I’ll bag that too!
Above. Screengrab from TAG Heuer’s website
The GMT is also seen in one of the catalogues (with red chrono hand!) pictured with a GMT Super Autavia dash timer, and the Red Arrows, stating “Used by the RAF Red Arrows in the London to Sydney Air race. I’ve hunted around for info on this air race, with not much luck.
Heuer Diver LV ‘Hulk’ Custom 980.006, 44mm with crown, ETA 536.121, c1983.
As some of you may remember, around a year ago I revived a knackered old gilt dial diver by resurrecting it as a ‘Black Bay’ custom. Well, it received a warm welcome, and not so long ago my mind turned to a regular stainless model that was in need of some TLC. I’d been thinking about doing another project, and a slightly bruised 980.006 fitted the bill. It was is great overall shape, apart from having a warped/bent bezel… I suppose this is the sort of thing you encounter by buying from ebay. The dial was fantastic with lovely clean lume, that had a pleasant green patina to it. The case pretty good, with a few knocks.. but the bezel was unusable.. when rotated it would come off the case, due to the warping lifting the retention spring wire.
I did try quick photoshop mock up of it with a blue bezel, as I thought a Tudor Snowflake custom might look good.. but it didn’t look quite right – I think the green lume didn’t quite ‘click’. I always liked the look Rolex Sub LV (Lunette Verde – green bezel), and the greeny lume on the Heuer set me off wondering if green might be the way forward.
I did have a spare gold plated bezel.. which a knackered insert, so I removed the insert, and had the bezel blasted back to the steel, I sharpened up the beveled edges, and polished it.. then modified it to fit the green insert – in the same way I did the red ‘Black Bay’ custom. I also had a super thick 4mm crystal fitted (thanks Jimbo), as the new insert had more of an angled slant to it than the original. Then fitted a brand new solid link aftermarket oyster (aftermarket Rolex Sub). I was going to fit snowflake hands, but the originals were in such stunning condition, I couldn’t do it, and I’m glad I didn’t.
Even I’m astonished by the result.. and I have to say.. it’s equal if not better than a standard 980.006.. I know some purists will tut at me saying that, but it really is a awesome looking thing. I think what really sets it off is that the old heuer lume is greeny – it totally compliments the bezel.. it looks like it was designed that way. I present the Heuer Diver Professional Lunette Verde..
Movado Super Sea Sub , Cal. 146HP , mid-late 1960′s, 41mm
I hold my hands up to having somewhat of a tunnel vision with vintage watches, focusing mainly on Heuers. Sure, I’m aware of other main brands, and some of the more obscure older marques.. but I’d never heard of Movado, or it’s rich history.
This was one of those watches that you see and instantly want – regardless of brand name. Like I say, I’d never heard of Movado, but when I saw it on the Heuer forum I just though ‘I want that’. Just the sheer quality of it, its sportiness yet elegant design, and not forgetting it’s remarkable condition. I even have to say, it has a great name too ‘Super Sea Sub’ – come on, that’s just ice cool.
It was being sold by my friend and fellow Heuer regular Abel, so I felt comfortable ‘going for it’ with very little research. I did a quick search around online, and oddly enough the top results were from another fellow Heuer collector – Paul Gavin, aka Heuerworld. That was good enough for me, and I frantically fired off a ‘yes please’ email to Abel.. but I was pretty sure I would be pipped to the post. The next morning I got a reply, and I had very slimly beaten several people to the punch, and it was mine. It apparently has sat in a safe for years in Germany, hence it’s remarkable condition.
I set about reading up on the watch and it’s maker, and here is my little report. I do apologise in advance if some of the details are incorrect – please feel free to put me right, I’m a Movado novice, and much of the technical details I read over on Heuerworld and other forums.
It’s a Super Sea Sub Chronograph, with a signed manual winding 17 jewel Cal. 146HP movement. It dates from the mid-late 60’s and many will note that it looks very much like the Zenith A277.. which used the same movement too. The case is large for it’s day, coming in at c41mm with stunning elegant 22mm lugs. The dial features a tachy scale, with stunning dauphine hands.. and copper coloured sub dial pins that set it off beautifully. Something quite cool that Paul noticed on his example, is that there is a tiny Movado logo etched into the centre of the crystal.. I checked mine, and there it is!
The 146HP Movement and Zenith connection
Martel were the original makers of the Cal. 146, and it can be found in pre-1960 Universal Geneve chronographs. Zenith bought up Martel in 1960 and started using the movements. Prior to that they had been using Excelsior Park chronograph calibres.
The 146HP was one of the last Movado manual wind chronographs produced prior to the introduction of the El Primero in 1969. Unlike Breitling and Heuer, Zenith stopped making manual chronographs shortly after the birth of the El Primero (some argue this too was a Martel production – designed and manufactured after the acquisition).
The Heuer connection.. Project 99
The race to make the first automatic chronograph wristwatch..
“In retrospect, it seems curious that Zenith joined in the competition to develop an automatic chronograph. Founded in 1865, Zenith had established its reputation during the 1940′s and 1950′s as a manufacturer of chronometers and watches for the military. As a true manufacture, Zenith produced its own movements for its chronometers. Still, Zenith offered only a limited line of chronographs and Zenith sourced the movements for its chronographs from other companies, primarily Excelsior Park. Zenith’s relatively small presence in the world of chronographs is evidenced by the fact that Zenith was not a member of the Swiss association of chronograph manufacturers.
In 1960, Zenith acquired Martel Watch Company, a producer of movements for chronographs and other complicated watches (such as calendar and moonphase watches). Martel was well-known as the supplier of chronograph movements for Universal Geneve and other respected brands. By acquiring Martel, Zenith broadened its offering of chronographs, and enhanced its capabilities in the design and production of chronograph movements. Soon after its acquisition of Martel, Zenith adapted the Martel chronograph movement that had been used in the Universal Geneve caliber 285 to become the Zenith 146 series of movements, featuring the 146-D (a two-register movement, with 45-minute capacity) and the 146-H (a three-register, tri-compax movement with a 12-hour recorder)”
The “P” refers to the different, flat coil (P for French “Plat” = flat). But there are several more differences with the original calibres 146 D and 146 H:
Kif shock protection was used instead of incabloc, glucydur balance wheel, a different regulator. There are more changes/different parts inside.
Movado Potted History
Despite being a ‘fashion watch’ company now, it’s roots lie in high quality watchmaking, dating back to 1881. Born in the workshop of a young Swiss, Achille Ditesheim, in La Chaux-de-Fonds in the Jura region. In 1881 Ditesheim set up in business with six craftsmen to manufacture watches. His small workshop grew quickly, by 1897 it employed 80 watchmakers. It had become one of the largest watch manufacturers in all Switzerland, and was noted for its technological sophistication. Early for its time, Ditesheim’s company used electricity and advanced machinery in place of the simple hand tools of other watchmakers. Achille Ditesheim gave his company the name Movado in 1905, choosing a word meaning “always in motion” in the then flourishing international language of Esperanto.
Movado’s designs also won top awards at the Paris, Brussels, and Liege world expositions. The company became internationally prominent, and by 1920 Movado was making more than 700 different wristwatch models. Two of its most famous watches from the 1920s were the Valentino and the Ermeto. The Ermeto was a handheld watch in a small box, the forerunner of the travel clock. Opening the case revealed the timepiece, and the motion automatically wound the watch.
Movado continued to produce complicated and innovative watches. In the 1930s the company manufactured one of the first digital watches, and as early as 1935 Movado was making water-resistant watches in both round and rectangular styles. In 1945 the company debuted the world’s first automatic winding wristwatch. This was called the Tempomatic. By 1956 the Tempomatic had been retooled into the Kingmatic. This was an automatic watch designed to be extremely rugged, and it was one of Movado’s best sellers in the 1950s and 1960s. Movado’s signature Museum Watch was first manufactured for sale in 1962. An American artist, Nathan George Horwitt, designed the stark, black, numberless dial watch in 1947, and in 1960 Horwitt donated his prototype to the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Movado agreed to produce the Horwitt watch in 1962, and it went on to become one of the world’s bestselling dial designs.
A short History of Martel / Zenith
Movement photo courtesy AC.