Last Updated on August 9, 2020 by Calibre 11
Despite the intense interest in Heuer chronographs of the 1960s and 1970s over the last few years, the watch collecting community is still learning the secrets of this period, for example the blue prototype Carrera we showed you back in May. Many of the records from this era have been lost over the years, with TAG Heuer investing significant sums over the last decade to rebuild its internal archive.
But today we can bring you something quite special- confirmation from TAG Heuer of a new Heuer reference from the 1970s, the Heuer Reference 905. It’s not every day that we get a new vintage Heuer.
This watch first came to our attention 10 years ago, but at the time the provenance of the watch was murky at best. That’s no longer the case, with the watch officially joining the somewhat chaotic Heuer collection of the late 1970s.
The reference 905 features a Valjoux 7734 movement and was available with two dial colours- fume and blue- with contrasting white sub-dials (reminiscent of the design TAG Heuer chose for the second of the Monaco 50th Anniversary Editions) and a telemetre/ tachymetre scale.
While the case design is interesting enough, with hints of the Heuer Jamara, the dial is less successful, mainly because of the choice of jarring pink text for the telemetre scale.
Hunting the Heuer 905
We’ve had the two images of the Heuer 905 on the Calibre 11 hard drive for 10 years now, as part of a project that we did with TAG Heuer in the late 2000s.
One of the reasons that the watch was generally dismissed by collectors as not being genuine was the presence of the words “Chronographe” and “Incabloc” on the dial- there are a huge number of dodgy refinished 1970s dials with this combination of text on the dial. So, it was easy to dismiss this watch as having the tell-tale sign of the fakes.
But then TAG Heuer verified a new reference from the 1970s- the Ref. 3006, shown below in the 1979 German catalogue. And what does that genuine Heuer have on the dial? “Chronographe” and “Incabloc“. While those two words are certainly not automatic proof of originality, nor can they now be regarded as instant proof that a watch was fake. The door was now slightly ajar.
We’ve had a discussion thread over at the Calibre 11 forums since 2014 discussing the watch, and while we weren’t convinced that it was a fake, nor could we confirm that it was genuine.
Earlier this year a reader contacted us, seeking information on his father’s watch. We get many e-mails like this each week, but more often than not people are looking for valuations to sell a watch. On this case, there was no financial angle to question, which gives the photos and the story that came with the e-mail greater credibility.
The watch was purchased at a Swiss Airport in 1977 and originally came on a steel bracelet. Despite having sat unused for a few years, the watch still works.
We passed these photos and story on to the TAG Heuer Heritage Department, who confirmed that the 905 was now defined as a genuine Heuer, being part of the late 1970s economy chronograph range produced for selected markets in an attempt to drive sales.
More to come?
While we can now add the Reference 905 to the dysfunctional Heuer family tree from the 1970s, that doesn’t mean that this is where the story ends, because there were several other photos of 1970s Heuers that were part of that same set from 10 years ago- as you can see above. The first two watches share similar characteristics to the Ref. 905, while the blue-dial chronograph is very similar to the Heuer Ref. 741-1.
While none of the designs above greatly enhances the rich story of Heuer’s 1970s product range, they would provide an interesting footnote on the efforts that Heuer went to as it desperately tried to combat the impact to its business of the Japanese quartz onslaught in the late 1970s.