Heuer Cortina Calibre 12
With all the focus on the “Big 4” vintage Heuer chronographs (Monaco, Autavia, Carrera and Silverstone), it’s easy to forget that there were many other models that sat alongside these classics during the 1970s. Names like Verona, Jarama and Daytona also appeared during this time and like the Big 4, were powered by the family of Chromomatic movements.
Another forgotten model from this time is the Heuer Cortina, of which there were two distinct series produced in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
The original Heuer Cortina emerged in 1977 and boasted several design features that distinguished it from other Heuer models of the day. The 39mm case is the key feature of the Cortina design, being a hexagonal-shaped case with a brushed stainless steel finish, rather than the combination of polished/ star-burst pattern that was typical on other models.
The second design signature of the Cortina is the integrated steel bracelet that seems to merge into the case itself.
While the case design is a resounding success- unique and different to any other Heuer from the period- the bracelet is a bit disappointing- very plain, solid links that look a little awkward in my view. I also miss not having the safety clasp- OK, this is not a diving watch, but I’m still surprised not to see one in place.
This first-generation Cortina was available in two models- one with an all-white dial (Ref. 110233R) featuring black roman-numerals and the black-dial version that you see here (Ref. 110233 NC) . While this particular watch has the common silver date-wheel with black date, there is also a rarer version with a red date on silver background.
As detailed in Arno Haslinger’s book Heuer Chronographs, The Cortina is named after the Italian mountain town of the same name, where the rich and famous would come skiing every year. Heuer was keen to add a winter-sports model to its portfolio, and so it made sense to name this new model after the chic Italian resort. Of course, slightly reducing this cache was the fact that by 1976 Ford was onto the fourth generation of its Cortina, the looks of which had declined somewhat since the earlier models which spawned the famous Lotus Cortina.