Vintage Heuer / TAG Heuer watches, and a few others. Plus Handmade straps..

Heuer Ref. 12 Chronograph

with 26 comments

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.

The Ref.12’s brother, the Ref.13-1 in the 1979 Catalog

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.

Written by Heuerville

August 17, 2010 at 1:15 pm

Posted in Heuer Chronographs

Tagged with

26 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. I still have the Ref 13 I bought new in London in about 1977. The watch is gorgeous, but the black rubber straps were rubbish. My first one lasted about three months, then snapped. Heuer replaced it and it lasted another two months. I didn’t bother getting it replaced again. I like your choice of leather strap.


    January 11, 2011 at 2:55 am

  2. I have a Heuer Automatic black cast body, black painted stainless steel flat link strap, date only at 3.00pm
    looks a bit like the 13,01 but different strap bought about 1979/80 in Bond Strret. Told at the time it was the same as a similar olive green finished automatic miliatary model. I can email a photo can you advise any information please and provide a model number as mine has 7750 Chrono-Automatic Incablock 750.501 on the stainless steel bubble back but doesn’t look like the 750.501’s I’ve viewed on the internet.

    Can tou advise assist please?

    I look forward to hearing from you. Many thanks.

    Kind regards,


    James Brotherhood

    July 18, 2011 at 4:02 pm

  3. I’m thinking of selling my ref 13. It’s clean but not mint, what do you think I should ask for it?




    July 18, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    • Depends massively on its condition, whether all parts are original, state of movement etc, original band, box/papers etc. Very hard to say without handling it. Go to the ‘On the Dash’ Heuer forum, upload some pics and you will get some advice based on the pics.


      July 18, 2011 at 4:15 pm

  4. Thanks for your quick answer.

    It is just the ‘watch’, ie no strap, box or papers. However, all parts are original, movement is fine. It could do with a new glass and strap and would then be pretty much like the one you illustrate above.

    I’m in no great hurry to sell, just wondered what sort of ball park its value is in.


    July 18, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    • I presume it’s a Ref. 13-1. the key factor is any wear to the PVD coating. If it is mint, than I’d say £500-700. Less if wear to the coating.
      Although, I should warn you, I’m not very good at estimating prices on watches I haven’t researched myself. So that is a rough estimate.


      July 18, 2011 at 4:25 pm

  5. Thanks for the advice!


    July 18, 2011 at 6:22 pm

  6. […] is my second. Ref. 12, the first with more details about this model can be found here. I acquired it from the original owner, who purchased it new from Watches of Switzerland, […]

  7. I have a ref 12 Heuer, had rubber strap but replaced it with a black metal bracelet.

    Want to sell mine, have had it 30 years, it needs servicing but is all original. Any advice where to sell would be helpful.

    Charles Freestone

    October 16, 2011 at 10:16 pm

  8. Hi, I am not a watch collector. A few days ago I remebered my dad an Heuer which I loved when I was a kid. So tonight I went at my parents’ and looked for that. It is an Heuer ref. 12. It took me two hours to find it on the web. I had gone through at least 1,000 photos of watches! I am so happy I have found it. The bracelet is gone. Mechanics work. Glass is in bad condition, do you think I can have it replaced? Is there any way to find a metal bracelet? Thank you


    March 16, 2012 at 11:24 pm

    • Thanks for sharing your story, I’m glad you found the watch. The glass is standard mineral glass, and any decent watchmaker should be able to replace it, with a new gasket for very little cost (no more than $50). If I remember correctly, this model was never sold with a metal bracelet. The catalogue pics show what looks like a metal bracelet, but it is actually a rubber strap designed to look like it has links. I would recommend you hunt around online for a black PVD mesh bracelet.. but be aware that the Ref. 12 has an uncommon lug width of 19mm, so finding one may be difficult. A nice 20mm leather strap will just squeeze in.


      March 16, 2012 at 11:32 pm

  9. I just bought one of these on eBay! Excited about it. The listing says it’s an automatic but the seller didn’t have much knowledge of the watch. It was an estate-find for him and he was flipping it. Unless someone was playing doctor with it I’m going to assume it was just a lack of knowledge on his part. Now I just need to find a watchmaker in Sicily.

    michael arredondo

    March 26, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    • Seems I confused my postings. I got a ref 13-1.

      michael arredondo

      March 26, 2013 at 8:35 pm

      • I have one with the chrono hand in yellow color, is that correct for this model? or only were made with the orange color? Thanks.


        September 12, 2013 at 10:05 pm

      • Most likely it is a replacement.. Or it’s an original hand that has faded to yellow.


        September 12, 2013 at 10:13 pm

  10. Hello
    I have a 13-1 heuer watch wind up
    Can you get them cleaned/ serviced
    Great watch

    Richard Ashmead

    February 21, 2015 at 2:21 pm

  11. I’ve collected the le jour version in similar condition. Very satisfying watch. And the le jour three register chrono too. Both in PVD. Great aesthetic.

    Sandy Zalstein

    February 21, 2015 at 10:19 pm

  12. Could anyone tell me the diameter of the crown on the Heuer ref 12. Mine has been replaced at some stage
    and it is to small.

    Derek Agnew

    June 1, 2016 at 2:19 pm

  13. I have a reference 12 that I purchased while in the military in 76-77. It’s not working at this time and could also use a freshening up. Would it be best to send it back to Heuer or just find a good watch repair location?
    Thanks, Jeff

    Jeff Webb

    February 17, 2017 at 7:06 pm

    • Jeff
      If it just needs a service, I’d find a good reliable watchmaker. TAG Heuer have a vintage dept in Switzerland, but it isn’t cheap!


      February 18, 2017 at 1:51 am

  14. I have two of these: One I got when I was 16 (back in 81) and the other one I inherited from my late father. One is in great condition (the inherited one) but the other one is damaged and not functional (give a 16 year old a watch…).
    Wondering if it is worth having it repaired, as I cannot find any information on its market value.
    Not that I intend to sell them, but there is no point in having it repaired for 1000 if it’s only worth 200…
    Any recommendations?
    Also, where do the straps in the pictures above, come from? Mine has an ugly plastic strap that I would love to replace with the ones in the pictures.
    TIA – Alex


    December 15, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    • Alex
      For servicing, I can recommend Rich from http://thewatchspotblog.com
      Not sure of market value.. it all depends on condition, but probably £1.5k+
      If you look at the top of the comments, there’s a link to the strap.


      December 15, 2017 at 10:17 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: