Archive for the ‘Heuer Chronographs’ Category
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
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…
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
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.
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 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.
(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.