Heuer Pocket Chronograph Ref. 701/Dec c1930-38
Heuer Pocket Chronograph Ref. 701/Dec. 1/100 min Decimal division. Porcelain Dial. Valjoux 61.
Inside caseback: 143935 Stamp, Engraved: Mo. 64298 (very small). M’ment stamp: SWISS MADE 145688
I’m no pocket watch collector, but this a wonderful little thing. Simply beautiful to look at and still operates wonderfully. Operated by one button built into the crown, the action is crisp and starts, stops & resets the chronograph. The enamel/porcelain dial and blued hands are sublime. I acquired it from a Swedish collector. The lovely engraving on the case bearing the original owners name & city – L. Jurell, Norrköping, which is located in Eastern Sweden.
I have spent quite some time researching this chronograph, making sure I have the genuine article, especially as only the dial is signed, although this isn’t out of the ordinary, Heuers dating before 1940-ish quite commonly didn’t have a signed movement and/or cases.
Ref. 701/Dec c1930-1938
My detective work concludes that this is a Ref. 701/Dec. The ‘Dec’ referring to the additional 1/100 decimal scale on the outer of the dial. The exact manufacture year is unknown, likely to be 1930-1938, which would explain the lack of signatures on the case and movement. It’s powered by a rare hand wind Valjoux 61, housed in a 50.7mm case. The 701/Tachy version is pictured in the 1938 Heuer catalogue.
Although the V61 can be seen in vintage wristwatches, it was originally designed as a pocket watch movement. It features a column-wheel actuated chronograph movement with a 30 minute register, a continuous seconds register, and a 1/5 second chronograph recorder. It’s operated by a single-button actuator mechanism which starts/stops/resets the chronograph. Fully gilded, 17 jewels, 18,000bph, Breguet spring, compensation balance, not shock-protected. I can’t find exact dating, but it seems the V61 were manufactured between 1930 and the mid 1940’s.
Genuine V61’s appears to have been used extensively by the military during the WWII. There is a Russian connection too, they were assembling versions of the V61 from a mix of Swiss parts and what seem to be some custom components. Some are crude non-Swiss copies and used by the Russian army during WWII. It’s also documented that 1ГЧЗ (First Moscow Watch Factory) started assembling ‘Swiss ébauche V61’ watches in 1940.
The Ref. 701 was in the Heuer range for many decades, the dial design & movement changing through the years. There were three variants to choose from – standard 701, 701/Tachy and 701/Dec. (A forth option is listed in the 1963 catalogue, the 701/Pulso, showing pulsations per minute).
The OTD archive has a Heuer catalogue from 1938, which includes the 701/Tachy version and a diagram of the unsigned Valjoux 61 movement and it’s parts, referencing the 701 as the model it belongs to. Here is a screengrab of the pages below… Note the shape of the bow over the crown.
1930’s Ref. 701 ‘Standard’
Here are a couple of photos of a standard Ref. 701 owned by a respected & prolific Heuer collector, this one is also only signed on the dial too. Note the numerals stay upright on the 30 minute counter. (My example has ntmerals that ‘satellite’ the needle, like the outer seconds numbers on this example)
What is interesting, as mentioned earlier, is that this could be much earlier than 1938, if you look at the history section of the TAG Heuer website, there is a very beautiful ‘first chronograph wristwatch’, pictured below. This is remarkably similar and dates from 1914. This example, presumably part of the TAG Heuer museum isn’t even signed on the dial. An example of a beautiful Transitional Chronograph can be seen on OTD.
Showing the standard 701. The crown bow has changed shape.
Link to OTD
Decimal option in 1963 Catalogue
A modernised version of the 701 as seen in the 1963 catalogue, note the text confirming the Decimal option:
Link to OTD
Want to see more Valjoux 61 movement photos:
Link to Forumamontres
Oddly, there seems to be an identical model to the 701, called the 1101, seen in the 1946 & 1959-60 catalogues (late 50’sthrough the 60’s). I’m not sure why there seems to be two almost identical models with different ref numbers. It might have been a 701 with a different case material. It is listed as being within the 701 range in the 1946 catalogue. The 1101 can be seen here in the 1959-60 catalogue.
A quick thanks to..
Dr. Roland Ranfft from Ranfft Watches for identifying the movement.
Jeff’s OTD & the crowd over on OTD for their help & input & Gray over on TZ-UK.
Fellow Heuerista, David for his help, input & standard Ref. 701 photos. Cheers bud.