Last Updated on May 19, 2020 by Calibre 11
Welcome to a story about a watch that doesn’t exist, at least officially. While the first-generation 1960s Heuer Carrera was offered with a wide variety of dial options over its six-year life span, each of these dials stuck close to the monochromatic end of the colour scale. Sir could have any colour he wished, so long as it was black or white…or if you really wanted to be bold, silver.
But that doesn’t mean that Heuer didn’t consider more diverse options and today we can show you one of these variants- an amazing starburst blue dial. The best information we have suggests that while a blue 1960s Carrera was never made, the dial that you see here is a genuine test dial supplied to Heuer. The watch shown in this post takes that test dial and fits it to the correct Carrera 7753 movement and case to show us what a production watch could have looked like had Heuer created a Carrera “7753BT” (B for blue and T for tachymeter scale).
Heuer did come close to making a watch in this style with the Heuer Skipper 7754, which was based on the Carrera and sported a similar blue base dial complemented by pastel green registers. Given the popularity today of the Skipper, it’s not hard to believe that the 7753BT would be at the top of the list of most collectible Carreras had it been made.
Heuer Carrera Reference 7753
The Carrera 7753 was a range of Carrera watches powered by the manual-wind Valjoux 7730 chronograph movement. Using the old Heuer naming convention, the first two digits of a reference number relate to the movement, while the last two digits are the model type, with “53” being the code for a Carrera. So reference 1553 is a Carrera powered by a Calibre 15 movement, while the 7753 is a Carrera with a 7730 movement.
The 7730 calibre was a low-cost chronograph movement produced by Valjoux from 1966 through to 1973. The base calibre design stretches all the way back to the 1940s, when the movement was introduced by Venus as the Venus 188. The architecture of the 7730 is a little more basic than the 3-register Valjoux 72, in that it uses a cam actuated system, rather than a vertical clutch.
Today’s TAG Heuer Calibre 16 movement is a direct descendant of the Valjoux 7730, as the modified Valjoux 7733 variant was the base calibre for the automatic Valjoux 7750- the movement today known at the ETA 7750/ Sellita SW-500.
There’s an easy way to pick the 7730 Carrera from the 3647 Carrera, which also has two registers and no date. The 3647 uses the Valjoux 92 movement, and features a 45 minute counter at the 3 o’clock register, the 7730 family has a 30 minute register.
One of the true gems sitting in the TAG Heuer archives is this book of dials for the collection of Heuer watches from the 1950s and 60s, including some prototype dials that never made it to production. We’ve been lucky enough to flip through the book, which is a wonderful piece of history. But even inside this book, there are no blue Carrera dials to be found.
The 7753BT dial was made by Singer, who made the dials for the 7753 Carrera alongside Progressia Nidau. The most likely story behind the watch is that Singer made the dial as a sample for Heuer to show what a blue-dial Carrera could look like- and for whatever reason, Heuer decided not to proceed. While it’s possible that the watch was indeed released in small numbers, the fact that we haven’t seen a complete watch until now makes this scenario unlikely.
One of the characteristics of Blue starburst dials from this era is that they are highly sensitive to oxidation, with the paint stripping away over time- think of the original 1133B Monaco Chronomatic/ transitional blue dial, or the blue Monaco 1533B. This dial- which has been authenticated by TAG Heuer- shows the same effects of time, with the damage most noticeable around the hour-markers.
The story of the Carrera 7753BT
The Carrera 7753BT is owned by Mika Ruottinen, a Carrera aficionado based in Helsinki who operates the Vintage Heuer Carrera website. Mika recently acquired the dial and decided that this dial deserved to be brought to life. The case, movement and hands are genuine Carrera 7753 parts that would have been used for a 7753BT. The design elements where Mika has used some poetic licence are the choice of colour for the chapter ring, the sub-dial hands and the central chronograph hands.
While we can be confident that the chapter ring and sub-dial hands would have been white (black or blue hands would have been illegible), the choice that represents the creative biggest leap is the use of the red/ orange central chronograph hand. While a conservative choice would have also seen this in white, Mika chose the same colour as that on the Heuer Skipper- and it’s a brilliant choice that elevates the watch from its 1960s Carrera siblings.
If the Carrera in the 1960s was all about monochrome colours, the 1970s were dials were awash with colour- in fact, there were only a handful of black or white 1970s Carrera models compared to dozens of silver, blue and gold combinations. While Heuer may not have been convinced about offering a blue dial in the mid-1960s, only a few years later they certainly changed their mind.
So would a production 7753BT have looked like this? In our eyes, it would have been a toss of the coin on whether that central chronograph hand would have been red/ orange or white. While Orange and Blue is more a 1970s colour combination, we hope that Mika is right, because to our eyes, the colour chosen here is perfect and makes turns a beautiful watch into a watch that would have been truly iconic.
Had the 7753BT made it into production, perhaps we would also have seen a blue dial Valjoux Autavia, given the two models shared many dial colour combinations. And that sliding doors moment could have changed the hierarchy of vintage Heuer collecting today, given the current market premium attached to blue dial watches, such as the Skipper.
Mika is still researching the story of the Carrera 7753BT, so perhaps over the coming weeks we’ll discover more about the story of perhaps the most beautiful watch that Heuer never made.