It’s no surprise that the vintage Heuer models best-known today are the ones that have been re-issued in the last 15 years by TAG Heuer. Yes, names like Carrera, Autavia, Monaco and Silverstone were high-profile models to begin with when they were released in the 1960s/ 70s, but making modern re-editions helps bring these classic designs into the modern consciousness and to the attention of TAG Heuer collectors.
The converse of this is that there are still many Heuer models from the 1970s that run under the radar, one of my favorites of these being the Heuer Montreal.
The Montreal was launched in 1972, during a period where Heuer began to significantly expand its range of watches. There were “economy” versions of the existing automatic Chronograph range- Monaco, Carrera and Autavia- launched with the Calibre 15 movement, while new series were launched to try to increase sales, such as the Calculator and Montreal.
The new Chronograph series was probably colourful ever launched by Heuer, and combined with its distinctive over-sized case, made for a watch that was quite different to the rest of the Heuer range.
The Calibre 12 Montreal was in the Heuer catalogue for only four years before it was replaced by a second-series Montreal, which lost much of the originality of the first series and swapped out Heuer’s own movement for the latest movement from Valjoux.
While the Montreal name would continue until 1983, those first four years saw the launch of the most interesting watches and the ones that are most collectible today.
The case is what makes the Montreal so special. It’s an over-sized 42mm case with a combination of a star-burst, brushed stainless steel top part of the case and polished surfaces along the side of the case.
Like all Calibre 11/ 12/ 14/ 15 models the watch uses fluted pushers and has the Crown on the left-hand side of the case.
Also notice the polished ring around the outside of the crystal- a striking contrast with the brushed steel surfaces.
The case is a similar shape and finish to other watches of the era, including the Omega “Pilot line” of watches, such as the Flightmaster- it’s a shape that could only have come from the 1970s.
While a large case by 1970′s standards, it feels about right by modern standards- certainly no thicker/ larger than a current-model Carrera.
The Montreal dial uses the traditional bi-compax layout, with Chronograph minutes at 3 o’clock and Chronograph hours at 9 o’clock. There is no sweeping seconds hand on the watch, so if the Chronograph is not running, there is no movement on the dial.
There are two scales offered on the internal bezel- a “Pulsations” scale and a traditional tachymetre, both of which you can read more about here.
Montreal Calibre 12 Series
The White-dial Montreal is the most colourful of the range- Orange, Yellow, Red, Black and Blue all feature on the dial and somehow despite the mass of colour, still manages to work well.