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

Archive for the ‘Heuer Chronographs’ Category

Heuer Regatta 134.601 (Black PVD)

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Heuer Regatta 134.601

Heuer Regatta 134.601 ‘Flyback’ Lemania Cal. 1345, c1983 

I’ve been into Heuers for a fair few years now, and although I’ve been aware of the Regatta ‘600’ series, I didn’t really care too much about it.. it wasn’t on my radar. I bought this one as a bit of a punt, and it turns out that it’s really grown on me, to the point that I wear it a lot.

It needed a little TLC, in the form of a fresh service and replacing the heavily scratched glass, apart from that it’s untouched. It has a real heft and solid feeling to it, which makes for a great daily wearer, especially when paired with an Isofrane. The design has dated well too, and has a very current look to it. I’m a huge fan of the last Autavias, with that wonderful 11063 case… this is essentially the same case, just with one less pusher, and the crown on the right.

When the countdown timer isn’t in use, the big ‘space shuttle’ orange & black chrono hand sweeps continuously, a feature which I love. Those wonderful cut-out countdown discs remain black and rather menacing looking, kinda ‘Dark Knight’-esk. It definitely has a military-tool feel about it. The lack of date and hour batons add to it’s stealthy look. The PVD has worn on the usual exposed edges, but to a dark titanium-ish colour, which is really appealing.

When the chrono pusher is activated, the big orange hand flies back to the 12 position, and the blank black discs come alive with a vibrant blue. This is T minus 10 mins, as each minute passes, the blue discs rotate clockwise to reveal orange discs. When all are orange, it’s T minus 5 mins.. then minute by minute they turn black again. This is all for the benefit of a sail-boats Skipper. One glance at his watch, and he can see how long before the start of the Regatta… Essentially, it’s a 10 minute countdown to the start of a sail-boat race.. A cannon sounds a 10 minute warning, in that time, the Skipper has to tack his yacht so that when the cannon sounds the start of the race, the yacht is just about to cross the start line at full sail. A T-10 min cannon is sounded, then a T-5 min cannon, then the ‘Start’ cannon. Below are photos of the timer running through the countdown.

For more reading on the history of the Regatta and other Yachting chronos from Heuer, check out http://www.regatta-yachttimers.com/brands/heuer/

Hodinkee did a little write-up too, here: http://hodinkee.squarespace.com/blog/2009/10/20/vintage-heuer-regatta-in-pvd-the-ultimate-urban-yachtsmans-t.html

For more reading on Heuer Skippers & Yacht timers, check out Henrik’s site.. http://www.heuerchrono.com
..and more on the ‘5 dot’ timers here… http://www.heuerchrono.com/heuer-5-dots/

See the three ‘600’ series models in the 1983 catalogue… http://onthedash.com/Guide/_Catalogs/1983_Chronograph_Catalog/?show=83TFAA17A.jpg

..and the countdown explanation from the same catalogue… http://onthedash.com/Guide/_Catalogs/1983_Chronograph_Catalog/?show=83TFAA17B.jpg

Below is a series of photos showing the countdown timer in progress…
10 minute countdown begins, the discs switch to blue and the orange chrono hand flies back to zero…

5 minutes left…

20 seconds to go…

Written by Heuerville

August 25, 2014 at 7:25 pm

Heuer Carrera 510.523 Lemania 5100

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Heuer Carrera 510.523

Heuer Carrera 510.523, Lemania 5100, c1983

I really enjoyed the PVD version of this model, so jumped at the chance of trying the stainless version. There is something alluring about the L5100 driven Heuers, they ooze rugged tool watch vibes. This Carrera model doing so without being oversized. It’s comfortable at 38mm across and it’s slender profile. As I have mentioned before when talking about the PVD model, this Carrera is surprisingly well balanced and comfortable, plus seems to suit many strap types – shark-mesh, NATO, leather, bracelet. (Pic above with aftermarket Hadley Roma bracelet)

Released in c1983, this was among the last in the line of the Heuers.. with TAG Heuer running down Heuer signed stock. It was also the last ‘Carrera’ signed model under Heuer (together with the PVD version). It has the ‘Autavia-esk’ sunburst graining to the upper case surface with polished sides. The Carrera is in the spotlight right now with the 50th Anniversary being this year, and this more modern model seems to get overlooked… maybe it’s because they aren’t that common, but it’s a pleasure to wear.

More reading here: http://chronomaddox.com/heuer/articles/carrera_article/_carrera_pt4.html

Seen in these catalogue on OTD…
1983 Catalogue
/  1984-5 catalogue

Carrera 510.523

Carrera 510.523

Carrera 510.523

Carrera L5100's

Carrera 510.523

Carrera Lemania 5100's

Written by Heuerville

December 26, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Heuer Autavia 1563 Tachy (Albino)

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Autavia 1563

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 was untouched being 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 is 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/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.

Autavia 1563

Autavia 1563

Autavia 1563

Autavia 1563

Autavia 1563

Autavia 1563

Autavia 1563

Autavia 1563

Autavia 1563

Autavia 1563

Cal. 15's in Heuer Brochure

Written by Heuerville

December 6, 2013 at 7:05 pm

Heuer Autavia 2446C Tachy (Early)

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Autavia 2446C

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.

Autavia 2446C

Autavia 2446C

Autavia 2446C

Autavia 2446C

Autavia 2446C

Written by Heuerville

October 14, 2013 at 9:39 am

Heuer Autavia 2446C GMT Mk4

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Heuer Autavia 2446C GMT Mk4

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.

Autavia 2446C GMT

Autavia 2446C GMT

2446C & 11063 GMT's

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!

Screengrab from TAG Heuer's website
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.

Written by Heuerville

September 2, 2013 at 8:25 pm

Heuer Autavia 11063 ‘Alpha Orange Skunkworks’ Custom

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Autavia 11063 Alpha Orange Custom

Heuer Autavia 11063 MH/Decomp ‘Alpha Orange Skunkworks’ Custom c1973 with ’83 case

I’m aware that many Heuer collectors may be shaking their heads or simply thinking ‘why?’.. why take a perfectly good and original 11630 orange/black and convert it.. some may label my creation a ‘franken’, and let’s be perfectly clear here – technically, yes – it is a franken. Allow me to explain..

The early 70’s 11630 orange/black was one of the first serious Heuer chronos I bought.. a long time ago. My budget was limited, and it was a bit rough around the edges.. still, I was very proud of my new watch. I had it for some considerable time, then eventually sent it off to Jimbo, my go-to watch man, to fit a new crystal.. and I remember him emailing me back, with some photos – saying that the dial and hands were in remarkable condition.. I was so surprised.. as the heavily scratched crystal didn’t really allow a good view of the dial. It turned out to be a great stroke of luck, the dial and handset was, well.. quite simply, the best I or James had seen. Deep orange accents with sublime original lume.. all factory fresh, the dial perfect in every way. Result!

Thing is.. I rarely wore the watch.. it didn’t feel right, it didn’t sit well on my wrist. This I can’t explain.. I’m a big fan of the 11630 case, and have several , I wear them all with no problem at all. But this one, just didn’t feel right.. weird. I’m fully aware that there are minor case differences across the 11630 range, there were two case suppliers, and I’m guessing that the shape may have differed over the years, but we are talking about miniscule difference.

So, as it wasn’t getting any wrist time, I decided to sell it… Then, in a mad moment I thought “why not try it in a 11063 case”, and the seed was planted. It appealed to me, because I love the big ol’ 11063 case, I think it’s may favourite. I guess it was a case of ‘sell the watch or try a different case’. At this time I was reminded of Abel’s stunning custom PVD Heuer – the ‘Abeltavia’, it was a brave move, but had a great reception amongst the Heuer fans.. as he wasn’t hiding it’s ‘franken-ness’.. it was an open an honest custom – and it looked great.

Time passed, and the project was put on the back burner, while I seeked out a 11063 case. Eventually one popped up, from a fellow US Heuerista, and I traded a bracelet for it. The case was a little worse for wear, but no major dings. I sent it off to the Belgium master, Abel, who did superb job refinishing the case., and I don’t say it lightly – it’s one of his best.. it’s so sharp it’s just wonderful to study.

So, with the case sorted it was good to go to Jimbo, who expertly put it all together with a new crystal and a black glass gasket – every detail ticked.

The results are amazing. I have a choice of two NOS bezels too – Decomp or Min/Hour. What I really like about this watch is the involvement of many people in the Heuer world that I have come to call friends.. I was drawn in to the chromos by Pauls great site – Heuerworld, and learned a great deal from Jeff’s OTD, the original watch was from a US collector, the 11063 case sourced from Lanny in a trade for a bracelet I got from AndyO. The movement is freshly serviced by Rich Askham – one of the best in the business (who incidentally said that the movement was a dream, like new!), the M/H bezel is from RichC, the Decomp bezel is from AndyO via David D (fromCal.11.com), the case by Abel, at a slight discount in trade some help I gave him recently, and finally the putting together of it all by Jimbo.. it’s a celebration of some good Heuer friends, and purely for that, it’s a great thing to me, and I love it.

Written by Heuerville

June 7, 2013 at 9:30 pm

Heuer Monaco 40th Anniversary ‘McQueen’

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Monaco 40th McQueen

(TAG) Heuer Monaco 40th ‘McQueen’ LE of 1000, Model no. CAW211A, Modern Calibre 11. 2009.

This is one of those unexpected watches that half fell into my lap. I wasn’t actively hunting for one, but it just happened to pop up at the right time and place.

I’m sure that some may be wondering why I didn’t go for a vintage or ‘proper’ Monaco, as some might say.. well I was lucky enough to add a 1970’s 1133G to the collection last year, and as lovely as it was, I was a little uncomfortable wearing it. I always felt that it was a touch too delicate, something that is not based in fact, I’m sure it’s just as tough as any other vintage Heuer –  they were designed as ‘sports’ watches after all. It was more my feelings towards it, in short, I felt I needed to pamper it, be ultra careful when wearing it. Because of that, I eventually moved it on to another collector. The thought of getting a blue 1133B did cross my mind, but that’s a lot of coin to shell out, and I would feel even more protective about it.

So, how to fill that Monaco hole?.. well this is the ultimate choice for me.. it’s the most accurate Monaco, in terms of honoring the original that TAG Heuer have made. Released as a limited edition of 1000 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the original Monaco’s release in 1969 and Steve McQueen’s involvement as its original ambassador. At first glance, you may think it looks like every other TAG Heuer ‘McQueen’ Blue Monaco, but look a little longer, and they are very different. The similarities to the original are evident – the left hand Heuer signed crown,  the (hand) applied metal hour batons at right-angles, the black sub-dial pins. Even the ‘Swiss’ text above the date window, red inserts in the hour and minute hands.. and so on.. not forgetting  the lack of ‘TAG’ on the dial.

This example is by no means mint, it has clearly seen some life since it’s release in 2009, and that is just fine with me… it’s a ‘wear everyday’ watch that doesn’t need wrapping in cotton wool, and for that reason, I will enjoy it, probably more than I would a true vintage piece.

It has TAG Heuers modern take on the original Cal. 11 (and 12) movement.. called the ‘Caliber 11’ – the same movement that they fitted in the Autavia re-issue pieces.  It is a base ETA 2892 Calibre Dubois Depraz 2022,  with continuous seconds running on the right sub dial and a chrono minute counter on the left (different from the original Cal. 11, white had chrono hours on the left, and chrono minutes on the right – no continuous seconds).  The case is 38mm with anti-reflective curved sapphire crystal glass. It has a water resistance of 50m, and the blurb says that the hour batons are ‘hand applied’. A nice touch is the caseback, which features an engraved Heuer logo, Jack Heuer’s signature, the LE number X of 1000, and the message “In tribute to Steve McQueen 40th Anniversary – Limited Edition”. If you want that vintage look, but with everyday usage, this is probably the best you can get. In my opinion, TAG Heuer did a wonderful job, and to me, it is an honorary Heuer, and sits proudly next to its vintage brothers.

Heuer Monaco 40th Anniversary

Heuer Monaco 40th Anniversary

Written by Heuerville

May 25, 2013 at 3:55 pm

Heuer Autavia 11630P Diver Decomp Tropic

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Autavia 11630P Diver

Heuer Autavia 11630P Diver Decomp Tropical Dial, Cal. 12, c1974

It’s astonishing how time flies.. back in August 2012 a three way trade with two fellow Heuristas resulted in me saying goodbye to my 1163 Viceroy, and welcoming in this 11630P. That’s its official name, I added ‘decomp’ to highlight the decompression bezel, although it was only available with this bezel.

This particular c1974 example has obviously seen quite a bit of sun, and the dial has turned a stunning tobacco brown ‘tropic’ colour, and there is some fading to the orange accents on the minute subdial. It’s quite wonderful. I tried to capture it in the photos, to little success I’m afraid, although the ‘dial shot’ does give a hint, it clearly noticeable in daylight. Under artificial lights, it does have a deep grey appearance too. Also noticeable are the amazing ‘blued’ subdial hands. I haven’t checked all my Autavias, but I’n pretty sure those with white subdials have these blued hands, although they generally look black. Maybe the sun-bleaching has made them more noticeable in this case. I don’t normally go for modern rubber straps on Autavias, but this ‘Breitling Pro Racer’ style seems to suit this special Autavia down to the ground. This is a truly special watch, and belongs to an elite group of Autavias that has directly applied hour lume plots, like you see on most of the GMTs, it gives it a real tool-esk appearance. So, if you want the GMT look without the added hands and red/blue bezel, this is a winner.
This example also had the pleasure to feature in the Autavia book (grab a copy – it’s highly recommended and makes a great coffee table book – with amazing photography).

So, why ‘P’?
Simple really.. like many of Heuers models, they used French descriptions, ie. N = Noir (Black). P simply means Plongeur, or Diver – probably where ‘plunge’ originated! Oddly, the P coding was never used prior to this model, even for the Heuer divers, but it serves as a way to distinguish it from other 11630’s in catalogue listings and other official paperwork. As this shares the same case with other 11630 models, there is nothing special ‘specification wise’ that makes it more suited to diving than any other 11630.. or any of the cushion case Autavias.. but I feel that I still need to file it under the ‘Heuer Divers’ category. Is it rare.. well, that’s subjective. I won’t hazard a guess at how many are out there, but it certainly isn’t common, and many tend to have seen a hard life.. all I’ll say is.. if you see a good one, buy it.

How does the decomp bezel work?
Well.. I’m writing this from memory, so hope this is correct… as I understand it, it shows how long you have before you have to decompress..
You turn the bezel so the 12 o’clock triangle lines up with the minute hand, like any regular divers bezel. As you can see, you only have approx. 5 minutes at 60 meters depth.. but 9 minutes at 50m, 15 minutes at 40m, etc etc.. the last marking is right around the bezel, so at 18m you have 56 minutes to dive. Please let me know if that’s wrong!

Mystery 1163 version..
It is first seen in the 1972 catalogue.. clearly listed as 11630P Diver, but if you look closely, you’ll note that it if housed in an earlier 1163 case, with acrylic crystal, also it has no bezel lume pip. It was presumed that this might be an ‘art dept’ error, as these have been seen before – a pre-computer version of a ‘photoshop fail’. But in the last few years, 1163’s have surfaced which have this 11630P style dial. Some have decomp bezels, some don’t.  Best guess is that it was a very short-lived run, and they switched quickly to the 11630 case. Here is an example that a fellow Heuerista acquired, being discussed over on the Heuer forum – as you can see, it too has a tropical brown dial.

Bezel pip..
The next time it is seen (in available  catalogues), is in the 1974  catalogue.. and this is the only time it is pictured with a bezel lume pip. That’s why I’m suggesting this one is from c1974, as opposed to later, although it’s possible the insert was replaced at service – these details are unknown.
You can also see it in the 1978 catalogue, and it makes a cameo appearance on the wrist of a diver in the 1984/5 catalogue. I know it’s hardly visible, but I have a copy of the catalogue, and it is more clear in the flesh, see last photo below.

Also, it’s worth noting that one of the coolest dudes on Earth wore a 11630P.. Sir Mick Jagger. In fact, you might call him a ‘Heuer Guy’, as he also owned/owns a 70’s Carrera… more info here on OTD.. Jagger’s Heuers.

Photo – Gijsbert Hanekroot / Redferns / Getty Images (Found via On The Dash)

Further reading…
There is a great write-up over on Cal 11..

Historic prices from OTD.. ’72 = $275, ’74 = DM620, ’78 = $439, ‘85 = 1,050DM.

1972 Catalogue..  But is the 1163 cased variant..

1974 Catalogue… First time seen in 11630 form in available catalogues.. and the only time seen with a lume pip on the bezel.

1977 Catalogue..

1978 Catalogue…

1985 Catalogue…
Not technically ‘shown’ in the catalogue, but the photograph of the diver in the water is wearing one..

Autavia 11630P

Autavia 11630P

Autavia 11630P

Autavia 11630P

Autavia 11630P in 1984-5 catalogue

Written by Heuerville

May 5, 2013 at 11:41 am

Heuer Autavia 15630 MH ‘Hellenic’

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Heuer Autavia 15630 MH ‘Hellenic’, Cal. 15, c1972-5

All watch collectors will know that you don’t really get to choose which watches become firm favourites. Sure, there are the ‘grail models’ that we chase, but every now and then we might take a punt on a watch, simply because it’s in decent condition and it’s fairly good value.. but surprisingly become rather attached to it. This Cal. 15 is such a watch. It was knocking about eBay for ages.. hanging around in my ‘watched items’ list, but I really wasn’t bothered by it.. it just sat there, being re-listed several times as seemingly, no one wanted it. I can’t remember exactly why I finally bid on it.. probably beer was involved. My bid won and it winged its way from sunny Greece to my door.

I was pleasantly surprised by its fine original condition. The most striking feature is its wonderful Hellenic sun bleached hands and dial. The original orange hands and dial accents have faded to a beautiful textured yellow.. the hands are especially nice, as they have faded more towards their bases – which may seem weird, but if you think about it, the tips spend more time in the shade of the watch case than the base – but that’s just a (terrible) theory. Either way, it has a lovely sun-bleached look.. I guess the watch-nut term would be ‘tropic’, but that really is more of a ‘black to brown’ dial term.. so I like ‘Hellenic’, given its time basking in the Greek sun, it seems rather appropriate.

The next problem was finding a strap for it.. it just didn’t look right on anything I had.. until I stuck it on an old DB10 strap.. and wow, what a combo. I know straps are personal taste, but if ever a strap & watch match was made in heaven, this is it! Thinking about it – maybe I should try it on a GF too.

This model is noted in catalogues 72, 74, 75.. Here it is in the 1972 Brochure over on On The Dash

Heuer Autavia 15630 MH

Written by Heuerville

April 28, 2013 at 5:16 pm

Heuer Audi Sport 510.533 Lemania 5100

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HEuer Audi Sport

Heuer Audi Sport 510.533 Lemania 5100, c1983-4

Fire up the Quattro…
When two motorsport legends came together in the early 80’s to celebrate their successes, this was the result. Heuer’s motorsport heritage combined with Audi’s equally illustrious achievements, specifically their remarkable foundation-shaking turbocharged dominance of rallying in the early 80’s, makes this timepiece very special indeed.

Given that motorsport runs deep in Heuer’s blood, it’s surprising there aren’t more examples donning various petrol fueled logos, in fact the opposite is true, they are pretty much nonexistent. Sure, we have the super-rare “MG” and “Indianapolis Motor Speedway” co-branded early Carreras that starred at the Haslinger Bonhams auction in Dec 2010, and a Volvo branded Carrera has been spotted, but this Audi Sport (as far as I’m aware) is the only mechanical Heuer Chronograph co-branded directly with a motorsport division or team.

Solving the Audi Sport Mystery…
There was a lot of mystery surrounding this model.. especially as it is so rare, with only an armful known amongst Heuer collectors, and never seen in any Heuer catalogue. Exact numbers amongst collectors is unknown, but guessed at 10-20 max over the years). Actual manufacture numbers must have been higher, 150, maybe 200, no one really knows.  Until recently, there were many ‘best educational guesses’ that offered up its origins. The most common is that this watch was Audi Sport team issue only, and that a limited numbers were offered as an optional extra if you bought the very expensive road going version of the Group B Audi rally car. There certainly was some supporting information to back this, I even managed to speak to someone who was gifted one in the 80’s from a Scottish Audi dealer for buying many company cars from them. Various experts have debated the possible history and distribution of this watch, and I have kept my ear to the ground for two and a half years picking up bits of info and collating the ‘ultimate write up’.. then all of this hearsay was blown out the water by the definitive truth…

A friend of mine and fellow Heuer enthusiast, Dave Black, hit the jackpot. He too had an Audi Sport, and we were both trying to piece together its history.. and rather ironically, the answer was a stones-throw from his front door in the North of England. A local jeweller/watch shop turned out to be the sole UK importer for the Audi Sport… Dave was contacted by Nigel, an Audi & Heuer enthusiast, after seeing Dave’s watch photos on an Audi forum.. Turns out that Nigel was a long-time Audi nut and had bought a Heuer Audi Sport from Prestons of Bolton in ’83. Nigel and his family knew the family who owned Prestons, and  his sister even worked there on the Heuer stand.

Turns out that the watch was commissioned via Audi Sport U.K. VAG U.K. Ltd & David Sutton Motorsport Ltd., and Prestons of Bolton were UK Heuer importers and were the sole importers of the Audi Sport. They distributed to Audi dealers but retained a stock for their shop. Nigel’s sister recalls that they were only on sale for about 2 months, and the window display consisted of the watch on a red display with an Audi Quattro behind it. Nigel also enlightened Dave about the original advert that was placed in a popular book amongst rallying enthusiasts; ‘Audi Sport, World of Rallying No.6 by Martin Holmes’. Dave and myself have managed to track down a couple of copies online.
Nigel also recalled that it originally came in a blue box  (not a red rally box, as some thought) together with an Audi Sport branded outer sleeve. He also noted that Hannu Mikkola has one and also David Sutton of David Sutton Motorsport & Museum fame. He also thinks that all the drivers from that year were given these watches. (See Dave’s post over on TZ-UK)

I’ve had the pleasure of swapping a few emails with Nigel, and it just goes to show that new information on these old Heuers still keeps coming to light!

There were two variants…
Not many people know that there are actually two variants of the Audi Sport.. the difference is minimal, with just a slight change to the hour subdial markers.. there is more information here on TZ-UK by Lemania expert ‘Pascal S’ – about halfway down the page.

Movement confusion…
Even the great Chuck Maddox wrote that the Audi Sport was powered by a Lemania 5012, a mistake that Calibre 11 cleared up on a thread over at Watchuseek:

“The Audi Sport uses the Lemania 5100… Where it gets confusing is that the 5100 usually has the 24 hour register, but take a look at the Heuer Silverstone Lemania and the Heuer Audi Sport –  it’s missing. Apparently Heuer/ Lemania modified the 5100 to remove the function on some watches. All this despite having the 5012 movement on the shelf, which had already lost the 24-hour function. Seems strange, but there are many things that don’t make sense about Swiss watches in the early 1980s.”

The Heuer Lemania’s were admired enormously by the great Chuck Maddox, and  if you want some in-depth reading regarding the Lemania movements and the watches they sat in, have a read of his well penned site:

Watch Legends: The Calibre Lemania 5100 “Not beautiful but Rare”

Further reading about Audi in the 80’s…

Audi History/Motorsport PDF Link

Audi Motorsport Official webpage info

Interesting Website on Audi

Heuer Audi Sport

Heuer Audi Sport

Heuer Audi Sport

Heuer Audi Sport and Advert

1. Hertz and Mikkola, Hannu Mikkola wearing (allegedly) his Audi Sport.
2. The mighty 80’s Audi Quattro gettin’ some air.
3 & 4. TAG Heuer still have an ongoing partnership with Audi Sport, but instead of rallying, Audi Sport have been a dominant force at Le Mans.
Hertz and Mikkola

Audi Quattro

TAG Heuer Audi at Le Mans

Audi at Le Mans

Written by Heuerville

April 27, 2013 at 6:23 pm