Vintage Heuer Watches- Under the Radar

Every year it seems that a different Vintage Heuer model enjoys its moment in the sun- collectors suddenly realise that there are some under-appreciated models out there (with under-appreciated prices to match), a few examples are bought and photos posted…and all of a sudden the Heuer collecting world has a new favourite.

Of course, there are always the “blue-chip” models- 1133B Monaco, Siffert Autavia, Carrera 12 that will continue to appreciate (although my view is that the Siffert and 1133B values will slow in their appreciation), but the real fun comes in finding models that are off the radar of most collectors and so can still be bought at reasonable prices.

I have tried to limit my list to models that are reasonably easy to find- some models have such a low “Samples Per Year” count (see here) that some collectors will pay whatever the asking price when one is available…because it will be a long time before the next one comes long.

Here are five models that are less well-known, but still highly collectible:

Heuer 510.500/ 501/502/503

These Lemania 5100 powered watches were released in the final days of Heuer and survived through to about 1986 as TAG Heuer models. Through their production run they were offered with a date window and later a day/ date window as pictured left.

It’s still possible to pick these up for just over USD1200, although there is a premium for the drab olive and PVD examples- mainly because so few good examples survive. Personally, I would steer clear of the PVD examples, as they look fantastic in NOS condition, but the coating wears off very easily. If you like to wear and not store your watches, then the stainless steel version is the one to go for.

These are the last of the “real” Heuer watches and combined with its good looks and a movement that collectors seek out, I think that these are set to appreciate over the next few years. Note that some of these watches will have TAG Heuer on the dial, but Heuer on the bracelet (or vice-versa)- this was normal for the time and is not the sign of a watch with non-original parts.

Heuer Montreal

The Heuer Montreal is one of my favourites of the 1970s models- a huge stainless steel case with the “starburst” finish. Its the Calibre 12 Montreal range that I think is the pick of the range…to me the later Valjoux models start to look too much like the 510.500 series, but not as attractive.

There are two types of Calibre 12 Montreals: with or without contrasting sub-dials. There are four models with contrasting sub-dials- white, black- and strangely two shades of blue..maybe Heuer couldn’t choose between the two blue options. The non-contrast models came in black (PVD case and Stainless Steel) and gold plate.

Beware that there seem to be quite a few blue Cal. 12 Montreals that lack the contrasting white sub-dials..I’m not convinced about their originality.

Also look out for the finish of the case- all except the PVD model should have the “starbust” finish pattern- you’ll see many polished examples out there, which are not worth buying as the sharp edges of the original case is one of the main features of the Montreal.

Prices of Montreals are still reasonable- around USD2000, although with a premium for the white dial, which seems to be the hardest to find. So, a classic 70s model and with F1 cache (the recent discovery that Stefan Bellof wore a Cal. 12 Montreal) and a colourful range of dials- one to look out for.

Heuer Camaro

I hesitated about having the Camaro on the list- reading back through the old posts at OTD, it seems as though it is predicted every year that Camaro prices are about to explode…but it seems as though they are still quite easy to find for around USD1500.

There have been a couple of fantastic examples for sale on Ebay over the last month- black face with orange highlights. Again, it’s the quality of the finishing on the case that separates the very good examples from the poor- look out for the polished sides, but with the “starburst” finish on the top of the case.

I like the clean, understated looks of the Camaro- seems odd that Heuer would name of its most conservative and sophisticated watches after a US muscle car that was anything but! The Camaro is a classic ’60s design and the perfect “square” companion to the round Carrera of the same period. The Camaro is the perfect Heuer if you like the square case design, but aren’t sure whether a bright blue Monaco will work with a suit

While the watch originally came with a G&F bracelet, this is one of the few Heuer watches that I prefer on a simple black leather strap.

So maybe this will be the time for Camaro values to increase…then again, I hope not too much as I haven’t found one yet, so it would suit me just fine if these stay under the radar for another twelve months.

Heuer Super Professional

Another “transition” Heuer that was sold as both a Heuer and a TAG Heuer (staying in the TAG Heuer model range through most of the 1990s), although it’s the Heuer branded model that is the hardest to find and therefore the one that I believe will appreciate the most.

The watches sometimes come with a Full dive kit, which includes a rubber bracelet and a divers extension in a leather pouch- a nice accessory if you cam find one. The watch came in Stainless steel and with a two-tone Gold and stainless steel finish, but I’m not convinced that Gold is right for a Tool watch like this.

The Super Professional uses an ETA movement and carries over several of the design features from the original Heuer Diver series. The watch is waterproof to 1000 metres, so should be fine for the occasional dip in the pool, and is the last of the professional grade dive watches offered by TAG Heuer until the Aquagraph came along a few years back.

It’s still possible to find these for less than USD1000 (a poster on one web forum was offered one for USD300 (!)), but its worth searching around and paying a bit more to try and find a Heuer example, as there are plenty of TAG Heuer models around if you have no luck.

Heuer Silverstone

OK, so this is cheating a bit, as the Silverstone is already one of the more valuable of the Vintage Heuer range. However, following the release in 2010 of the TAG Heuer re-edition, it’s not unreasonable to expect that there will be a positive flow-on impact on the values of the vintage models.

It’s the Calibre 12 Silverstone that is the most collectible and given that  the re-edition is based on this design, it seems like the one to go for.

If you want the full 1970s look, then try and find a Red Silverstone with matching burgundy strap…now that stands out from the crowd!

2MG_4382So there are some thoughts on the models that will appreciate over the coming year- and only with a little self-interest (I have two of the models mentioned above-  Montreal and Silverstone).

What do you think? Will the strong price increases continue for the Autavia Diver 100 and Sifferts? What about the Chronosplit range of watches, especially the LED/ LCD models- is (fragile) quartz collectible?

 

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