The Other Silverstone

Posted by: David Chalmers   |   22 August 2009   |   5 Comments  

11Silv5100

The Calibre 12 Heuer Silverstone (Ref. 110.313 and available in Blue, Red and Fume) is one of the most famous and distinctive Heuer models from the 1970′s. Introduced in 1974, the watch was part of the Heuer range until 1977 when it was dropped. Heuer never played around with too many variations of the Silverstone- three dial colours in the same case and each with the same movement (The Calibre 12- although there have been examples of Calibre 11 watches turning up).

The Silverstone made a comeback to the Heuer range in 1983 with a new model that bares no resemblance to the Calibre 12 model. Despite this, the “other” Silverstone is a great watch in its own right.

The 1983 Heuer Silverstone (Ref. 510.403) uses the Lemania 5100 movement and features a high-gloss case design that TAG Heuer later appropriated for  the TAG Heuer Monza re-edition (the design of the TAG Heuer Monza being a combination of design cues from the Heuer Camaro and the Heuer Silverstone Lemania).

The Lemania Silverstone came on a Tropic Rubber strap, and may have also been available on a rare Novavit SA bracelet- I’ve never seen confirmation of this in any of the Heuer catalogs.

Heuer 1000In the period when Piaget Group owned Heuer (prior to the TAG acquisition in 1984/5), Heuer started to move away from its policy of naming its watches after famous racing tracks- and so sadly, the Silverstone Lemania saw out its last days as part of the Heuer 1000 range in the 1985 catalog.

As you can see abve, its the same watch as the Silverstone, but no more “Silverstone” on the dial, but instead being known by the evocative code number- 510.403.

Is it any wonder that Heuer/ TAG Heuer spent so long in the wilderness in the 1980′s with decisions like that? Its sad to read through the catalogs of the early-1980′s and compare them to those of the 1970′s- evocative racing drivers, famous tracks and Grand Prix heritage, all replaced by an image that could be any other brand. Still, this needs to be seen in the context of the Quartz-crisis, which had decimated the entire Swiss watch-making industry.

The “Poor- Man’s” Variants

SinnThe term “Poor-Man’s” version is a somewhat derogatory way of referring to a model that looks the same as a more expensive brand, but has a house brand or a lower cost brand on the dial. Generally the Rich-Man and Poor-Man models are assembled in exactly  the same factory from exactly the same parts, so the Poor-Man watches are a great value option if you’re not too worried about the logo on your dial.

lemaniaAs with many of the Heuer 1000 range, there were a number of Poor-Man’s versions of the Lemania Silverstone- although they came with a blue herringbone pattern-dial, rather than the plain black of the Heuer. Below are three such versions of the “Silverstone Lemania- from Lemania itself, Sinn (Model 7080) and a brand called Gabriel, which I don’t know a lot about.

Gabriel

The herringbone pattern on these watches is similar to that used on the Lemania-powered Heuer Cortina- like the Silverstone, a model name resurrected in the early 1980′s, but a model that bares no relation to its 1970′s predecessor.

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