What can go wrong?
Almost everything is the short answer. Archer Maclean is one of the handful of experts in the LED/ LCD world on these watches, and he has put together some fascinating photos that show why these watches are so fragile. Unlike later Heuer quartz watches, it’s not just a case of the batteries being left in and leaking acid- unfortunately the problems go much deeper to flaws in the design of the chips. Take a look at the printed circuit board below- the ship surface is unprotected and then wire bonds incredibly fragile. These bonds weaken over time and it only takes a couple of bonds to break for the watch to become inoperable. Sourcing new connectors? Virtually impossible.
The second photo below (this time from an LED/ LCD version) highlights the problems caused by the Stripe connectors, which also have a habit of eating themselves after a long period of time, and again are very difficult (impossible?) to replace.
Adding to the problem is watches that are worked on by non-experts- it’s so easy to destroy these movements that it is critically important to buy one from an expert- and there are a few around, such as Archer. Don’t be fooled by the old eBay line “LCD not working- probably needs a new battery”.
Personally, I love the design of these watches, but I’m not sure I’d ever be brave enough to buy one due to the difficulty of repairing. There are some very tempting sets for sale at the moment- Full NOS watches with boxes and papers.
As mentioned above, buying from a reputable seller is critical. There are a number of sellers who focus specifically on LED/ LCD watches and seem to have a good record at bringing back some of these watches from the dead.
For the Heuer collector who already has enough Calibre 11/ 12/ 14/ 15 watches to fill the safe, The Chronosplit- especially the LED/ LCD version- would make a fine addition to the collection. The only thing holding these back is the ability of the watch to be repaired, but with enough interest, maybe a solution can be found.
Photos and Credits:
1) Ferrari Chronosplit: Onthedash
2) Other photos: Archer Maclean- thanks for the use of your images. Read more about Archer’s findings on these watches here: