Last Updated on June 22, 2019 by Calibre 11
Heuer’s wristwatch focus in the 30s and 40s was similar to that which we are used to in the 60s and 70s, primarily chronographs with a smattering of triple chronographs amongst them. Often they were broadly of similar size too, smaller than we often see now but still wearable.
In the 50s though, they experimented with a number of different time-only watches with automatic movements, sometimes with additional complications such as day/date. These were pretty small watches, especially by modern sensibilities, most not measuring much more than 30mm across the case.
This didn’t preclude them from offering watches in gold though, and here is a pretty example in 18K:
Another watch that was going strong for Heuer in the 50s was the triple calendar, and a fair number of these were sold in gold, as well as steel and gold-plate.
The experiment with time-only watches was fairly short-lived and ended up with many of the watches being sold to Zales to be sold on marked with co-branding with their Baylor brand.
The 1960s and 70s
We now enter a golden period for Heuer, with the introduction of “series” watches like the Autavia in 1962 and Carrera in 1964 that would see them through the next couple of decades. The focus was now definitely on steel, though the first generation Carrera does also see a number of watches in plate. Solid gold watches became something of a rarity, but the ones we do see are particularly splendid so well worth highlighting here.
Firstly, we’ll take a look at the Carrera 2456. The Carrera was an instant, and huge, success for Heuer but very scarce in this 18K gold execution. But it’s a magnificent watch so no apologies for including some photos of an example belonging to well-known Heuer collector Arno Haslinger here:
I particularly like the caseback shot. We see the beginnings of Heuer displaying contrasting finishes on their gold models to great effect, with the polished finish of most of the case against the brushed finish of the caseback. Incidentally, the caseback is one easy way of distinguishing the solid gold watches from the gold-plated – the caseback of the plated watches is by and large plain steel, as the part of the watch most likely to show wear of the plate.
The Carrera’s sister watch, the Heuer Autavia (the reason for the emphasis on Heuer here will become evident later) was never available in solid gold, though a plated model was released late in its lifetime. The “third”, and sometimes overlooked, series watch, though, did. And it was another splendid one:
This Camaro is, if anything, even rarer than the 18K Carrera and well worth consideration in its own right.
Into the 70s and we come across one of my personal favourites, the second generation Carrera 1158 CHN. And don’t take just my word for it, family member Jack Heuer also names this as one of his favourite Heuers.
As well as being between 3 and 4 times as expensive as the next dearest Heuer of the time (or some 7 times as much with the bracelet fitted to Jeff Stein’s example above), this watch has notability as the watch that Jack Heuer personally handed to Ferrari’s F1 drivers during their period of Ferrari F1 sponsorship.
Here is Niki Lauda wearing his, obviously fond of it as the overalls show this photo is from his Brabham days after leaving Ferrari:
Also available with a silver dial and in champagne without the contrasting black registers, the 1158 continued to be made in very limited numbers (I have a figure of 150 from a TAG-Heuer document celebrating the Carrera’s 40th anniversary, others have been quoted 250) throughout the 70s.
The rest of the decade went by with some major models being introduced (you may have heard of the Monaco, for instance) but other than these Carrera 1158s, no more solid gold watches.