By the late 1970s, Heuer had begun to expand its range of Chronographs. New names inspired by cities, places and towns with famous sporting connections- Daytona, Cortina and Kentucky- were added to the line-up, replacing discontinued models such as the Monaco and Silverstone. Also part of this late 1970s collection was a sporting Chronograph named after a Spanish Formula 1 track forever linked with Gilles Villeneuve- the Heuer Jarama.
Like the Cortina and Daytona, the Jarama was only produced for a couple of years and in limited numbers. This trio of Chronomatic Heuers have never quite made the grade as highly collectible models- yet- despite their rarity and attractive designs.
The Circuito del Jarma is a racetrack built in 1967 on the outskirts of Madrid. Home to the Spanish Formula 1 Grand Prix a total of nine times, the last Spanish Grand Prix here was held in 1981 and won by Ferrari’s Gilles Villeneuve. It would turn out to be Villeneuve’s last victory and was the closest finish in Grand Prix history, with the first five cars covered by 1.2 seconds.
Vintage car lovers will also recall the Lamborghini Jarama of the early 1970s. Despite the shared name, the Lamborghini is not named after the F1 circuit, but the area around the Jarama river, which is famous for bullfighting.
The watch has a shapely cushion-style case, with a combination of a polished lower case and a starburst top case. It’s a more complex case than many of Heuer’s designs and featured nicely integrated chronograph pushers and a clear, simple dial.
The Jarama was one of the first Heuer/ TAG Heuer watches to be offered in a variety of “bi-metal” finishes- a combination of Gold plate and stainless steel. The 110.245 features a stainless steel case with a scalloped gold bezel that seemingly inspired the new Rolex Skydweller.
The dial also feature a Pulsometer, a patent held by Heuer for watches and stopwatches since 1908 for measuring a patient’s pulse rate. In fact, look closely and you’ll notice that the inner flange is the same as that used on the 1970s Heuer Monza.
The second Jarama takes the bi-metal concept even further, with a Gold/ Steel bracelet and a Gold (“Champagne”) dial and inner bezel. While all models are rare, this is probably the one that is easiest to find.
The Gold version has black hands, rather than white, and black text on the dial.
The final iteration of the Jarama is my favourite- stainless steel case, black dial and a unique PVD bezel- an unusual design that is the most sporting in execution. Long time readers will know that bi-metal watches are not my thing, and I think that this simple stainless steel version best showcases the Jarama design.
Comparison with Heuer Range
While the Black Jarama is an attractive design, it is very similar to the Heuer Montreal, as you can see above. Both watches share the same basic dial, something that becomes even clearer when you overlay one watch on top of the other.
While I’m a fan of the Montreal, the large Montreal case does date the watch as a slice of pure 1970s design, while the “lighter” Jarama wouldn’t look out of place in today’s TAG Heuer range.
The Jarama was a little smaller than some of Heuer’s other models, as the photo below of the Jarama (right) and the Autavia 1163V (left) shows. As well as looking more modern than the Autavia, the Jarama is a more delicate and interesting design…less slab-sided and bulky.Overall its a terrific looking watch and one that on looks alone should have been more popular.
Zodiac Calibre 90 Chronograph
Heuer made a number of watches for other brands in the 1970s, including Zodiac (who would return the favour in the 1980s by making the Heuer Spirotechnique/ 1000m Diver). The Zodiac Chronograph above uses the same case as the Jarama, albeit with a bespoke dial design that is nowhere near as attractive as the Heuer.
And powering the watch? A movement Zodiac called the Calibre 90, but one we know as the Heuer Calibre 12.
Collecting the Jarama
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve read on collecting vintage Heuers comes from Jeff Stein at On the Dash: “Rarity doesn’t equal collectability”- in other words, just because something is rare doesn’t mean that anyone will want to collect it (how many collectors clamour for a Heuer Memphis?), and this is the case with the Jarama.
From examining the sequence of serial numbers, Mark Moss estimates that Jarama production could have been as low as 1,000 watches in total. Now, even if Mark is 100% wrong (which knowing Mark is unlikely!) and there are 2,000 watches, that is still a limited edition by today’s standards.
I suspect that the problem with the Jarama is that it’s not unique enough to attract collectors- a nice watch but one that doesn’t draw people away from the Autavia and Montreals.
While the watch flys under the radar, examples of the 110.223 in particular can command strong prices. The other bi-metal versions are less sought. One issue with the Jarama can be the bezel. The PVD coating can wear quite easily, while the gold-plating can spot or chip over time. Replacement bezels are very hard to find, so picking an example with a nice bezel is a good starting point.
Looks great in the photo above, doesn’t it? While I suspect that collectors who keep one eye on the eventual resale value of their watches will continue to steer clear of the Jarama, I think that it makes a fine choice to add to any collection. The problem will be finding one, especially if you like the stainless steel model. In the past 10 years or so, I have probably seen less than 10 for sale, and only a few of these had a bezel in acceptable condition.
So, keep looking. The great aspect of collecting 1970s Heuers is the variety in the watches, and once you’ve owned a couple of the usual suspects (Carrera, Monaco, Autavia, Silverstone), there are still at least another 6 model ranges with equally interesting designs just waiting to be found.
– Jarama 110.223 courtesy of Bruce Mackie: http://www.mackie.co.uk/
– Jarama 110.225, 110.223 and 110.245 courtesy of TAG Heuer
– Jarama 1981 Spanish Grand Prix: http://www.richardsf1.com/
– Heuer 1977 catalogue: http://onthedash.com
– Jarama 110.223 comparison photos and wrist shots courtesy of Gianvittorio “GVM”
– Zodiac Calibre 90 Chronograph: http://thewatchspotblog.com/?p=1754