Heuer Ref. 12 Chronograph
This is a stunning and extremely rare 1970’s Heuer Ref. 12. Featuring the superb and robust manual wind Valjoux 7734 movement.
I love this watch, with it’s large military-esk PVD case with black dial, bright orange chrono hand and oversized Heuer shield make it very striking indeed. I acquired the watch with it’s original French made ‘links effect’ rubber strap with unsigned buckle. I’ve fitted the ’12’ with a new leather strap and Heuer buckle. It’s crown is unsigned as is the movement, which is correct and proper for this model.
The Ref.12 seems to have slipped under the Heuer radar due to the lack of information about it online. Another reason is that they weren’t sold in great numbers. More infamous models, like the Montreal, Pasadena and 501 series seemed to have overshadow the understated Ref.12 at the dealers.
LeJour and Arctos both made their own versions of this watch. In the early 80’s, Arctos began supplying the German military, with their version of this watch seemingly available. This general design of these type of watches is often referred to as ‘Porsche Design’, probably for kudos value. I admit to not knowing that much about the history of Porsche Design watches, so I don’t want to lump the Ref 12 into that category just yet.
Whilst researching this model, it seems that the period that this watch was produced was a time of great upheaval and turmoil for Heuer. Luckily missing information about this period is being pieced together by collectors worldwide sharing their catalogue scans, photographs and personal stories. The Ref. 12 is certainly listed in the index/price pages of late 70’s cataloges, but an actual catalog photograph is not known. This is not surprising, not all models appeared in the catalogues. Although it’s brother, the Ref.13-1, with 3 sub-dials is (Note it only has 2 operational sub-dials, the other is for aesthetic effect). See below. Also note that the strap in the catalog is not metal, it is rubber with ‘links’ effect.
I put the feelers out for more information on the On The Dash Heuer forum. I’d like to thank Mark Moss for his extensive reply, which can be read in the link above. Another source of information is on the reference tables of On The Dash… it is listed under ‘French Made Chronographs’, which I believe is a minor slip up by OTD. The other Heuers in that category have ‘Made in France’ on the dial, whereas the Ref.12 (and Ref.13-1) clearly displays ‘Swiss Made’ on the dials.