Before TAG Heuer, there was Heuer. Many would argue that the former incarnation of this mainstay of the Swiss watch industry produced a superior product, and given what we’ve been known to offer, we’d have to agree.
With a history as rich and exciting as the pieces that make up the back catalogue itself, it’s hard to deny the strength of the Heuer brand especially when it comes to vintage chronograph watches.
The manufacture got its start in 1860 when Edouard Heuer founded Uhrenmanufaktur Heuer AG, in the municipality of Saint-Imier Switzerland. From the brand’s earliest days, an inventive spirit could be found within the manufacture walls, as evidenced by Heuer’s first patented chronograph of 1882, and the development of the oscillating pinion in 1887, which would pave the way for the future of chronograph production across the entire industry. This continued into the next century, when Heuer would eventually make waves with the cooperative introduction of one of the world’s first automatic chronographs, the Cal. 11.
All these innovations in the world of chronograph-equipped calibers would cement Heuer’s place within the watch world as a chronograph manufacturer through and through, making them the natural choice for many professionals in lines of work where timekeeping was crucial. Of the many, one of the most celebrated by historians, collectors and Heuer themselves, is race car driving.
Heuer’s participation in the daring tradition of motorsport dates back to the latter half of the 50s, when the manufacture began producing the Monte Carlo, Master Time, Auto-Rallye, and Super Autavia. This collection of highly legible dash-mounted clocks, stopwatches, and chronographs were based upon the manufacture’s early dashboard chronograph designs, but were tailored with motor racing in mind, and made use of top notch calibers to ensuring accuracy. Following the triumphant introduction of the aforementioned timekeepers, Heuer would start manufacturing equally legible timepieces, fitted with equally accurate chronographs, to suit the needs of those in the same market who preferred something instead mounted to the wrist. These have become amongst the most sought after vintage chronograph watches
A great deal of Heuer’s legacy will eternally be characterized by these famed sports chronographs, like the Carrera, Autavia, Camaro, Silverstone, Monaco and Monza. Through their combination of timeless designs, reliable mechanics, and thoughtful details, they quickly became the chronographs of choice of noteworthy drivers, including Jochen Rindt, Jo Siffert, Niki Lauda, Mario Andretti, along with countless others. The association with motorsport was also furthered by the fact that Heuer sponsored several Formula 1 events and teams, along with Steve McQueen’s wearing of a blue-dial Monaco while shooting the 1971 cult classic “Le Mans.”
For long, Heuer’s early offerings had gone unnoticed by much of the watch loving world, not enjoying the same status as equally impressive pieces from other brands. To say this has changed in recent years would be an understatement of massive proportions. Today, Heuer enjoys the standing they so deserve as one of the all-time greatest companies that has produced many classics that have eventually become highly collectable vintage chronograph watches, with clean and important examples fetching record breaking prices each and every year at auction. For those considering a Heuer, this can surely afford a reassuring sense of encouragement.