Finding Parts for your Vintage Heuer

Posted by: David Chalmers   |   4 September 2009   |   17 Comments  

Heuer CalculatorI bought a “NOS” Heuer Calculator earlier this year- it was an impulse buy really, as I had never previously liked the Calculator that much…they always look a little ungainly and over-sized in the photos.

In real life, they look fantastic. Yes, its a big watch, but no bigger than many new watches that are on sale today, so it has a very contemporary look. I’ve received more compliments around the office for my Calculator than I have for my Monaco 1133B!

Have you spotted what’s wrong with the watch yet? Yes, it has service hands. But what about the dial? Its missing the “Automatic Chronograph” on the dial, despite being an automatic watch.

You might assume that this is because some back-yard operator fitted a dial meant for a manual-wind Calculator to an automatic watch. And you’d be right…almost

The interesting thing about this watch is that it was TAG Heuer who provided and fitted all of the parts.  I have the service receipt in front of me showing all of the work that TAG performed on the watch, including a new case, bracelet hands and dial to the old Calculator.

TAG Heuer claim that this is the correct dial for the watch and that there was a very limited run of automatic watches with manual dials. Maybe this is true, but I’m not buying that story.

The more likely reality is that TAG Heuer are starting to run out of spare parts for Vintage Heuer models, which creates a real problem for collectors. Already bezels for Autavia’s are almost impossible to find (especially for a GMT), dials and flange’s are hard to come by and supply of bracelets are running out (especially for end pieces- I’ve found that it is easier to find the bracelets than it is to find the right end pieces…and one without  the other is pretty useless).

TAG Heuer have tried to stop the part-bin being diminished by refusing to send out parts- you have to send your watch to TAG Heuer to have that part fitted…and you usually won’t get back your original, damaged parts.

What this all means is pretty simple: If you have a vintage Heuer that you’ve always thought about fixing up, I wouldn’t wait much longer- you might be disappointed when you do finally get around to sending it off

I find the design of service hands- both for this Calculator and for many other vintage Heuer watches, such as the Monaco, to be interesting. For some reason Heuer/ TAG Heuer went to the trouble of getting replacement parts made for when the originals ran out, but didn’t ensure that the replacement parts were an exact match to the original part- its easy to tell original hands vs. service hands.

Heuer Calculator

Why would this be? You might like to think that its to protect the value of the true, 100% original watches..but I doubt it. Watch companies in the 1970s and 1908s were more focused on surviving than worry about protecting the autenticity and scarcity of watches for future collectors.

I think that its because the idea of collectors actually seeking out and coveting the contemporary models of the day thirty years down the track would have been a surprise to Heuer. So the fact that the supplier down the road had a replacement that was almost right was probably enough for the company then- just as it probably is now.

I don’t mind this approach, as it means that there is a gap in value between true, original watches and watches like my Calculator- and that’s probably the way it should be. After all, if we could all have a NOS Monaco 1133B, where is the sollectability and value?

There are 100% original NOS parts out there and they will rightly command a premium over any newer, replacement parts. Hang on to the spares that you have….and don’t expect TAG Heuer to come to the rescue with an never-ending supply of original parts.

Photos: J&S M

Home » Calculator, Watch Collecting

17 Comments »

  • richard said:

    Hey DC

    I agree, the Monaco issue has a real impact on visuals and to some degree on values too, although i’m not sure everyone realises the importance. On the Monaco’s the red second hand is significantly longer and it hangs too close to the “swiss” sign, at some angles covering it. I think that’s the worst aspect, but obviously if the minute and hours hands are service then unless it’s relumed to match the hour marker lume and hand lume won’t match and besides that the service hands just don’t look as good and sometimes look plain wrong. (A greenish lume on hands with an original yellowish lume on the hour markers looks terrible…

    As you say and as was pointed out to me again yesterday, it’s the real original that should always command the premium. I’m not sure at the moment that is the case, but suspect the further into the future we get the more it will matter (the pricier objects get the pickier people tend to become and the fact that we all get more informed every day, will only add to this)

    R

  • www.heuerchronograph said:

    DC looks to be a manual wind dial reference fitted to an automatic watch. Cheers AMH

  • admin (author) said:

    Rich- agree on value of the original hands. Like you, I wasn't aware until recently about how big a difference it makes- both to value, but also to the look of the watch. As you say, the service hands are too long. I just don't understand why Heuer didn't have identical sets made? Can't be that hard.

    Hi Arno- yep, its a manual wind dial for sure…question is why did TAG Heuer fit it? Did they not know the difference, or have they simply run out of Automatic dials, and figure that this was the closest match?

  • www.heuerchronograph said:

    David hard to say, however I believe that old spareparts are not endless, similar reason as we have recently discussed on the autavia 100.I have heard that my book is used as reference by the service people, which made me kind of proud )) Cheers Arno

  • Ed said:

    So, you start off with "finding replacement parts for your Heuer" but you don't offer any tips on finding the parts.

    I have a '72 Heuer Carrera that needs a lower pusher. My local watch repair wants $500 for the parts and labor. That's too much money for something that just screws on.

    Ed

  • Mark Huegelmann said:

    How does one find a replacement dial for a Monaco? Can they be refinished? The white inserts for the counters are worn, probably due to improperly placed hands.

  • DC (author) said:

    Hi Mark- tough to find, but I would avoid refinishing the dial…they never quite look right and at worst, they can be comically bad. Try e-mailing Richard at http://www.heuermonaco.co.uk

    David

  • kun ladislau said:

    hello.i have a heuer calculator and needs hands replacement. please can you tell me where can i find service hands for heuer calculator?thanks

  • DANIEL said:

    Hello

    I have a Heuer Calculator 1970 cal.12,missed outer scale.

    You know where I can buy one?

    thank you

  • David Chalmers (author) said:

    Hi Daniel,

    These bezels can be found on eBay every so often- they're not that rare (its all relative…most Heuer bezels are impossible to find, but this one is OK).

    David

  • Sohail said:

    Hi , can't seem to find parts like oscillating pinion for vintage caliber 11/ 12 . Any help? Regards

  • bill mcpherson said:

    I need push buttons for and all three hands

  • bil mcpherson said:

    I need push buttons, and all three hands for 1970's heuer caculator

  • bill mcpherson said:

    hey I need push pins and I need all of hands for a 1970 heuer caculator

  • Calibre 11 (author) said:

    HI Bill- try the forum at Onthedash.com

    Cheers

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