Last Updated on August 19, 2020 by Calibre 11
The Heuer Verona was launched in 1978 and showed that even in the grip of the quartz crisis, Heuer still knew how to make a beautiful classic chronograph. While most of the 1970s was about bright colours and over-sized funky cases, the Verona turned back the clock to the clean, elegant design of the first Carrera from 1963- a simple round case, internal tachymeter ring and a clear, open dial.
Being from the late 1970s, the Verona was not just about automatic chronographs, as there were also two quartz options in the range, a 3-hand analogue quartz watch and a Verona Twin range, which combined an analogue watch with a digital screen.
As with many of the models from the late 1970s, the Verona was only in the catalogue for a couple of years, from 1978-1981. The chronograph and quartz watch were phased out in 1979 and replaced by the Twin digital series, which then ran through to around 1981.
Verona is a relatively small city in the North of Italy, about halfway between Milan and Venice. It’s a beautiful city that once held a strategic role in the Austrian empire, and of course is the setting for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. In the city of Verona today stands “Juliet’s Balcony” on Via Cappello. While it’s a beautiful house that attracts hordes of tourists, Romeo and Juliet is a fictional story, and so there is no actual connection between “Juliet’s Balcony” and “Juliet”. Nevertheless, let’s not ruin a good story: Verona is the home of Romeo and Juliet!
During the late ’70s Heuer named two watches after well-known Italian cities: The Cortina and the Verona. It was partly a strategic decision (Heuer was relatively weak in Italy and France) and partly because both cities were known as international icons for the jet-set clientele that Heuer was seeking to attract. It also demonstrates a shift away from the motor sport theme of the earlier part of the decade, where the Italian cities of Monza and Modena were chosen because of their connection to Ferrari’s Formula 1 team.
The Verona was a return to the classic shape of the 1960s after a decade of bold, generally over-sized case design. Slightly larger than the 1960s Carrera (38mm vs. 36mm) the Verona case was a softer, rounder take on the first generation Carrera.
The hands are typical for the era- Heuer went through a phase of using these blunt, narrow, rectangular hour and minute hands that lacked a point. We saw them on the Kentucky…
…and on the Manhattan.
The hour-markers are prominent and features a small lume dot behind each index. These are longer than you would see on other, earlier Heuer chronographs and mirror the design of the hour and minute hands.
All versions of the Verona use a brushed 38mm stainless steel case, with the depth of the case changing depending on the movement. You can see here that the Calibre 12 model is quite a thick watch, a feeling exaggerated by the small diameter of the case. The external bezel is polished steel/ gold-plated depending on the model.
What also stands out in the photo below is the plexi crystal on the chronograph models that sits high above the case itself. This is unique to the mechanical Verona, with the quartz model using flat mineral glass.
The caseback is where you will find the reference number and also features a vertical grain.
One element of the Verona design that I hadn’t really noticed before is the small notch in the case where the crown sits, making it easier to pull out the crown. Now that you’ve seen it, you’ll notice the notch every time you look at the case!
Verona Automatic Chronograph- Calibre 12
There are four Verona chronographs- two dial options and two choices of case.
The silver dial shown above has a subtle vertical grain and is matched with black sub-dial and chronograph hands and dial markings. Also note the subtle black outline on the hour and minute hands and the hour-markers.
The Black dial has a glossy finish and white hands/ highlights, including the hour/ minute hands and the hour-markers.
While the first two Verona models use a stainless steel case, the final two models have a steel case with gold-plated highlights on the bezel, crown and pushers. The hands also have a gold colour to them, although this typically fades with age.
Heuer Verona Quartz
The quartz range mirrors the chronograph models in offering four variants. As you’d expect, the quartz watches offer a much slimmer profile than the chronograph and are instantly recognisable thanks to the prominent “Quartz” script on the dial. And for fans of the small notch in the case of the chronograph, it’s bad news. The quartz cases are notch-less.
Verona Twin Digital
The Verona Twin remains something of a mystery, as there are so few examples around. There appear to be two versions of the watch: a chronograph (as shown in the 1981 Catalogue with “Chronograph” on the dial) and a second, shown above that says “Alarm”. The 1981 catalogue refers to two chronograph models:
- 381.215N- Black dial, stainless steel with gold-plated elements
- 381.213N- same as above, but all stainless steel
The reference number of the watch above is likely to be 371.215N and while there are apparently all- steel versions of the watch, photo evidence is hard to find.
And speaking of which, here is a catalogue scan showing the ultra rare Verona 371.213G
The digital watches use the same 38mm case and have the flat mineral glass of the quartz range, rather than the raised plexi crystal of the chronograph. The other design point of note is that the hour markers are mounted on the inner bezel rather than directly onto the dial.
Verona Straps/ Bracelets
The Verona range has 19mm lugs, an awkward size when you’re looking for replacement straps (same as the Camaro). Every Verona I have seen has been on a leather strap, although the 1979 catalogue scan above from Onthedash shows that there was a bracelet offered.
There are three movements offered in the Verona range:
- Verona Chronograph: Heuer Calibre 12 Chronomatic
- Verona Quartz Analogue Watch: ESA 9362
- Verona Twin: ESA Y2 900.231
The ESA LCD module listed above is for the Chronograph model, and it’s likely that there is a different part number for the Alarm model. Fortunately, the LCD module is significantly more sturdy than some of Heuer’s earlier LCD efforts, and was used broadly by Heuer, Breitling and others.
Towards the end of the 1970s, Heuer began to use a variety of different boxes, so it’s hard to be definitive about the “right” box. There was this rare Blue box that opens to the side revealing the watch…
…and we have also seen the Verona sold in one of the older boxes that we usually associate with the mid-1970s Autavia range, as shown below.
Collecting the Verona
Despite being one of the rarer Heuer models, values for the Verona remain relatively flat. The challenge is more in finding one in good condition, with the stainless steel models being the hardest to find and the most collectible. While other contemporary Heuer models purposely had a modern look (think Daytona and Kentucky), the Verona kept things simple and classical, and as a result has aged better than those more adventurous designs.
While the Twin models are the hardest to find, these are more niche from a collecting point of view- the model that most people want is the Calibre 12 Chronograph.
Values for the Verona will almost certainly never reach the level of the Heuer “big-guns”, but for me it’s an almost perfect chronograph. While I find the original Carrera beautiful, 36mm is just too small. The Verona offers a similar style with Heuer’s own movement (unlike the first Carrera) in a more contemporary size. The problem with the Verona is not the cost- it’s finding one.
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Photo credits as listed.
A special thanks to Noodia for the outstanding photos of the black Calibre 12 Verona featured in this post. You can follow Noodia on Instagram @noodiawatch