. . . and the Orange Boy Makes Five -- TAG Heuer's New Autavias

Writing about watches (or just about anything else) can be frustrating.

In February, I was excited about the four Autavias that TAG Heuer has introduced over the past year, and have two of them in my collection.  I wanted to write a review of all four models, so I borrowed the two that I didn’t own; spent a couple of evenings with my camera; tapped out the first thousand words of a posting; and seemed ready to post the definitive review of these four TAG Heuer Autavias. It was mid-March and I was half-way done with the posting . . . this was smooth sailing, all the way.

It would be a fun posting.  Others have written detailed reviews of these four Autavias, but I was enthusiastic about publishing the first posting to cover all four of them, side-by-side.  And I couldn’t imagine that anyone else had strapped all four models to a box level, suspended them with Magic Arms, put them under 2000 watts of light, and taken the family photo.  Yes, I was excited about this posting.

The first sign of trouble came with the request from a friend at Hodinkee to borrow my vintage “Orange Boy” Autavia for a photo shoot.  Suspicion morphed into alarm when the crew at Hodinkee shared a photo showing the fifth Autavia to be introduced, on May 31, 2018 — the TAG Heuer Autavia for Hodinkee, which we all know will forever be called called the “Orange Boy”.  Just a few minutes ago, Hodinkee officially announced the availability of the new “Orange Boy” Autavia for Hodinkee.

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Ronnie's Carreras -- TAG Heuer Pays Tribute to a Hero

In the Pantheon of Heuer racing gods, we are accustomed to seeing Mario Andretti, Steve McQueen Jochen Rindt and Jo Siffert at the top of the roster. Yes, if there were a Mount Rushmore of the Heuer heroes, we could expect to see these four faces. Indeed, it is fitting that collectors refer to four specific Heuer models, as the “Andretti”, “McQueen”, “Rindt” and “Siffert”.

Lengthen the list and widen the mountain, and Ickx, Lauda, Regazzoni and Villeneuve might be the next racers named by today’s collectors. But to make these lists is to face the problem – what are our criteria for deification? Are we looking for the best drivers? Those who wore the Heuers most often? Those who supported the brand? Or perhaps the most romantic (or tragic) figures?

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Heuer Parade -- An Overview of Phillips' Sale of 42 Vintage Heuer Chronographs

On November 11, 2017, in Geneva, Switzerland, Phillips auction house will offer for sale 42 vintage Heuer chronographs, assembled as “The Crosthwaite & Gavin Collection”.  Almost all these watches span the period from the early 1960s through the mid 1970s, the period when Jack Heuer was at the helm, as the fourth generation leader of the Heuer brand.  A 43rd watch will be included in the sale, Serial Number 1 of a limited edition TAG Heuer being offered on the occasion of Jack Heuer’s 85th birthday, in November 2017.

Phillips is presenting this auction as the “Heuer Parade”, and has produced a magnificent printed catalog with full details and photographs of the watches.  This printed catalog is presented in seven chapters, each of which presents a different aspect of Heuer’s history (for example, motor sports, race timing and military-issued watches).

The following is an overview of the 43 watches included in the “Heuer Parade”.  Click on any of the thumbnails for a high resolution photograph of the watch.

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OnTheDash Guide to Christie's Auction of 34 Heuers, June 21, 2017

On June 21, 2017, Christie’s will conduct a sale of “Rare Watches and American Icons”, in New York City.  There are 250 lots in the sale.  You can find the online catalog HERE or the eCatalog flipbook HERE.

There are 34 lots of Heuer chronographs and stopwatches in the sale, and this posting will serve as your quick guide to those watches.  You can click on any of the images shown below to see a high resolution photo of the watch; alternatively, visit the gallery at the bottom of this posting, to click through each of the Heuers.  After the sale, we will update this posting to show the results.

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TAG Heuer 2017 Autavia -- Detailed Look

TAG Heuer introduced its new Autavia in March 2017, at Baselworld, and the watch is now available worldwide through TAG Heuer dealers.  I purchased my new Autavia in May, and have provided my impressions of the watch — through the first eight days on the wrist — in an interview with Stephen Pulvirent, which has been published on Hodinkee.   The posting below offers some  basic information about the new Autavia, as well as some “live” photos from my first month with the watch.


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Auction Watch -- Fall 2016 Recap

November and December are always busy months for watch auctions, and in Fall 2016 the vintage Heuers were well represented in auctions conduced by Phillips, Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Watches of Knightsbridge.  In this posting, we show the 45 Heuers that were offered in these auctions, together with their “final prices” (comprised of the hammer price plus the applicable buyer’s premium).  In addition, we feature one unusual vintage Skipper, that was sold by Fellows.  For readers who want to do additional research, we provide the links to all the auction catalogs.

The following image shows the six vintage Heuers that sold for the highest amounts at these Fall 2016 auctions.  Prices were as follows: Top Row — Autavia, Ref 2446 (Big Subs), for $125,000; Autavia, Ref 2446 (Rindt), for $43,750; Carrera, Ref 2447 SN, for $40,480.  Bottom Row — Orvis Solunagraph, for $50,600; Autavia, Ref 1163 (Orange Boy), for $50,000; and Autavia Ref 113.603 (IDF-issued), for $63,614.

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It's Here -- TAG Heuer Introduces the 2017 Autavia

On March 10, 2016, TAG Heuer announced that it would re-issue the Autavia in 2017, and that it would stage the “Autavia Cup” competition for enthusiasts to select the vintage Autavia that would inspire the new model.  This morning, 377 days after this announcement, TAG Heuer has released the first images of the new Autavia, along with full details about the watch.

The winner of the Autavia Cup, the “Jochen Rindt” Autavia, circa 1966, alongside the new 2017 Autavia. Images sized to scale, with the Rindt being 39 millimeters and the new Autavia being 42 millimeters.

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Green Flag -- A Preview of TAG Heuer's Newest Racing Autavia

Three days from now, on March 23, 2017, TAG Heuer will introduce its new Autavia, at the Baselworld show. Today, we provide the essential background information to introduce the newest member of the TAG Heuer family. While we are confident that the new Autavia will stand on its own, it may look even better to those who appreciate the watch’s rich history.

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Jean-Claude Biver Introduces the New Autavia (and the Past and Future of TAG Heuer)

On September 11 through 13, 2016, TAG Heuer hosted its first Collectors Summit of the Jean-Claude Biver era, at company headquarters in Switzerland. To open the Summit, Mr. Biver (CEO of TAG Heuer and President of the LVMH Watch Division) welcomed the Summit participants at the Hotel Palafitte, in Nauchatel.  The following day, Summit participants would be the first to see TAG Heuer’s new Autavia and, to open the Summit, Mr. Biver provided his introduction to the watch.

More than introducing the new Autavia, Mr. Biver’s remarks describe how TAG Heuer will use its unique portfolio of historic chronographs to inspire the development of new watches for the brand. His remarks introduce the new Autavia, but more importantly they introduce a new era for the TAG Heuer brand.

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Anatomy of an Invoice -- McQueen's Monacos

There are few associations between a hero and his watch that have the enduring strength of the connection between Steve McQueen and his Heuer Monaco, worn in the film Le Mans. Introduced in 1969 and worn by McQueen in 1970, the “McQueen Monaco” has been re-issued in numerous configurations over the last 20 years.  Pick up a magazine or visit a mall, and we see the images of the “King of Cool”, his Porsche 917, and his racing suit and racing watch.


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Auction Watch -- November 2016

Phillips, The Geneva Watch Auction FOUR, November 12 and 13, 2016

On November 12 and 13, 2016, Phillips held an auction of 196 watches, divided into two sessions.  The first session, on November 12, included these four Heuer chronographs.



Final prices shown below include the hammer price plus a 25% buyer’s premium; exchange rate at the time of the auction was CHF 1.00 equals $1.012.

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About OnTheDash

About OnTheDash

Online since 2003, OnTheDash is the most comprehensive source of information about vintage Heuer chronographs, dashboard timers and other timepieces.  OnTheDash presents images of over 500 different models and executions of vintage Heuer chronographs, and scans of over 60 original Heuer catalogs covering the period 1935 through 1985. OnTheDash also includes registries of some of the rarest Heuer models, reference tables providing detailed information about the various chronographs, and blog postings about vintage Heuers and other timepieces. Here, you can see some of the “Best of OnTheDash“.

In addition to serving as a reference for vintage Heuer timepieces, OnTheDash serves as the hub for a vibrant community of collectors. Our vintage Heuer discussion forum currently has over 80,000 postings, with these fully-searchable postings providing information about watches and events of interest to collectors. Our discussion forum also provides a social experience for participants, as collectors share their watches, information and life experiences. Our ChronoTrader forum provides a platform for collectors to buy / sell / trade / seek interesting watches and chronographs, with no fees to buyers or sellers.

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Auction Watch -- Artcurial Selling 40 Vintage Heuers, July 18, 2016 (The Good, The Bad and The Ugly)

The vintage Heuers have been hot lately, so the dynamics of supply and demand tell us that with the recent strong increases in prices, we are likely to see more vintage Heuer chronographs coming into the market.  In April and May 2016, we saw Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Phillips and three other auction houses sell over 75 vintage Heuers, with record prices achieved for many models.  See our report on these six April and May auctions HERE.

With this increased interest in vintage Heuer chronographs, it’s not surprising to see the Paris-based auction house Artcurial offering another 40 vintage Heuers, at a sale to be held in Monte Carlo, on July 18, 2016.  The sale consists of 400 watches, with the Heuers placed at lots 273 through 312. Here is the Online Catalog for the sale.  Or you can flip through the E Catalog, if you prefer. You can see a gallery of all 40 of the Heuers HERE.


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Auction Watch -- Spring 2016

It’s the spring auction season in the watch world, with auctions being held by Antiquorum (April 21, 2016; New York City); Phillips (May 14, 2016; Geneva); Kaplans (May 14, 2016; Stockholm); Sotheby’s (May 14, 2016; Geneva); Christie’s (May 16, 2016; Geneva); and Auctionata (May 18, 2016; Berlin).  Among the hundreds of watches being sold in these five auctions are approximately 60 vintage Heuer chronographs. This posting will help you keep track of these vintage Heuer chronographs, including photographs and descriptions of some of the rare ones.

We are posting this on May 1, and will provide updates as the auctions occur, to add the results of the sales as well as comments on some of the watches.

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An In-Depth Look at the Early Autavias (1962 through 1969)

By Rich Crosthwaite and Jeff Stein

Images by Paul Gavin/heuerworld.com

On March 10, 2016, TAG Heuer announced that it would re-issue the Autavia in 2017, with enthusiasts selecting the model to be re-issued from among 16 choices dated 1962 through 1969.  There is great interest in these “Early Autavias”, and at the request of TAG Heuer we present this detailed look at these models. 

Fifty four years after Heuer introduced the Autavia chronograph, we can put this watch into its proper perspective.  The Autavia was Heuer’s first chronograph to have a model name, as the previous chronographs were identified only by their reference numbers.  The Autavia was Heuer’s first chronograph to incorporate a rotating bezel, a useful tool for measuring elapsed time, for determining speed over a measured distance, or for tracking time in a second time zone.  Perhaps we explain these first two attributes by the third unique aspect of the Autavia – it was the first wristwatch that Jack Heuer, the great grandson of company founder Edouard Heuer, personally created for the company, at age 30.

These 10 Autavias cover the range from the very first models, introduced in 1962, to the first automatic Autavia, introduced in 1969

These 10 Autavias cover the range from the very first models, introduced in 1962, to the first automatic Autavia, introduced in 1969

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The Match-by-Match Guide to the Autavia Cup -- Round One

Today, TAG Heuer has launched the Autavia Cup competition, a month-long event in which enthusiasts will cast votes to determine which Autavia the company will re-issue in 2017.  The competition consists of a series of head-to-head, knock-out matches, in which each winning model will advance to the next round of the competition. Sixteen Autavias are included in the competition, 12 of them being historic models produced by Heuer in the 1960s and 4 of them being newly-created, as Fantasy Autavias, for purposes of the Autavia Cup. After enthusiasts have narrowed the field to four Autavias, TAG Heuer will select the model to the re-issued.  Visit the Autavia Cup website to cast your vote!

This posting will serve as a Guide to the Autavia Cup, highlighting the key features of each of the 16 competing models.  Click on the [High Res] link at the end of each description to see high resolution photos of each of the models.  For comprehensive information about the Autavias from the 1960s (and the 1970s and 80s, as well), you will want to see the book, Heuer Autavia Chronographs 1962-85, by Richard Crosthwaite and Paul Gavin.  Paul supplied the photos for the Autavia Cup competition and also created the four “Fantasy” models. You can order the book HERE.


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The Enthusiast's Guide to the Autavia Cup

On Thursday, March 10, 2016, TAG Heuer announced that the brand would launch a social media based contest, to allow enthusiasts, collectors and customers to select the model of 1960s Autavia chronograph that TAG Heuer will re-issue in 2017. This contest, called the “Autavia Cup”, will commence on March 17, at Baselworld, with the winning watch to be announced in April 2016.


This posting will provide a Guide to the Autavia Cup competition, pulling together anything and everything enthusiasts will need to follow the action, and — more importantly — to cast their vote to determine the next Autavia to be offered by TAG Heuer.

The 16 Autavias Competing in the Autavia Cup

Click on the image below to have a closer look at the 16 Autavias that will compete in the Autavia Cup.  The top 12 are “real” models that Heuer produced in the 1960s and the four on the bottom row are “Fantasy” models produced by collector Paul Gavin, operator of HeuerWorld.


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Finishing Heuer's Unfinished Project -- Autavia 2446C with Silver Dial

Once upon a time, there was a brilliant architect, who designed residences and had also planned and built many successful communities. Many years ago, he began work on what would be his most ambitious project, a futuristic community of over 300 houses, apartments and townhouses, that would also include parks, shops and other facilities for the community. This new development would capture the essence of the Architect’s style, as well as his vision for communities of the future.

To begin the project, the Architect would build a row of townhouses, 12 units that would serve as the model for the rest of the community. The Architect had ambitious plans for the community, and he spared no energy or expense in designing and starting the work on these first 12 townhouses. He knew that in order for the Project to be successful, these first 12 homes would need to be well-received, showing potential residents and observers the style and quality that would be the essence of the new community.


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Step-by-Step Disassembly of a Chronomatic Movement

In a November 5, 2015 posting on the OnTheDash vintage Heuer discussion forum, one of the members of our community (Gianluca) provided a beautifully illustrated, step-by-step description showing the disassembly of a Caliber 15 chronograph movement (known as the “Chronomatic” movement).  The Chronomatic was the first automatic chronograph movement, and this family of movements was used by Heuer, Breitling, Hamilton and several other brands from 1969 into the 1980s.

While few of us collectors would even consider undertaking such a project, all of us can learn some important lessons from this posting.  Learning about the parts and construction of the Chronomatic movement will help us understand how these machines work, and will also facilitate communications with our watchmakers and other collectors.


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08 Reasons Why I Can’t Wait to Buy the Carrera Heuer 01

In just a few days, TAG Heuer will be releasing its newest Carrera, the Carrera Heuer 01.  I recently borrowed a prototype of the Carrera Heuer 01 for a week, enjoyed the watch a lot, and can hardly wait to get this newest Carrera on my wrist.  In this posting, I’ll tell you why!!


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Vintage Heuers on TAG Heuer Instagram

I’m a big fan of Instagram.  The Instagram format of square photographs and brief captions is ideal for sharing images and information about watches, and there is a rich flow of postings dedicated to both vintage and modern watches.  The #VintageHeuer hashtag serves the community of vintage Heuer collectors well, and we see some amazing old Heuer on Instagram, every day.

Recently, TAG Heuer has begun posting some fantastic photos of the vintage Heuers in the TAG Heuer Museum.  In this posting, we show the photos and captions from several of these postings, as well as a couple of other favorites from the TAG Heuer Instagram feed.  For each of the chronographs, we have also added links to the OnTheDash galleries where you can see additional photos.

TAG Heuer Instagram Hero 550


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Registry of Early Autavias

The Autavia Chronograph

Heuer introduced the “Autavia” dashboard timer in 1933, with this 12-hour stopwatch designed to be mounted on the dashboard / panel of an automobile or airplane (thus the name is derived from the words “AUTomobile” and “AVIAtion”). Heuer introduced the Autavia chronograph in 1962, making it the first Heuer chronograph to have a model name on the dial; the “Carrera” was introduced one year later.

The Autavia chronograph made its first appearance in a 1962 brochure of chronographs. In this brochure, Heuer proudly declared that the “most useful feature of the new Autavia is the outside turning bezel with either a 60 minute or 12 hour division”. Indeed, the Autavia was the first Heuer chronograph with a rotating bezel, a feature that defined the Autavia throughout its production life, into the 1980s.

The First Execution of the Autavia — Key Elements

The first execution of the Autavia chronograph is defined by (a) a screw-back case, (b) larger registers than subsequent executions of the Autavia, and (c) dauphine hands. Collectors sometimes refer to these first executions of the Autavias as the “Big Register” Autavia.

First execution Reference 3646 and 2446 Autavias

First execution of Reference 3646 (two-register) and Reference 2446 (three-register) Autavia chronographs, circa 1962


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The Collector's Guide to the Heuer Autavia

Looking at the world of vintage Heuer chronographs, most of the action centers around three models — the Autavia, the Carrera and the Monaco.  Over the years from 1962 into the mid-1980s, there were over 200 executions and variations of these three models, ranging from manual-winding two-register chronographs, to more complicated GMT models, to quartz powered models with dual digital displays.  While Heuer offered many other models over these years (for example, the Camaro, Montreal, Silverstone and Monza), these other models together account for only a fraction of the production of Heuer’s “Big Three.”

Heuer's "Big Three" -- Among the most common executions of these models are the "Viceroy" Autavia (1972), the Reference 2447S Carrera (circa 1963), and the "Steve McQueen" Monaco (circa 1970)

Heuer’s “Big Three” — Among the most common executions of these models are the “Viceroy” Autavia
(1972), the Reference 2447S Carrera (circa 1963), and the “Steve McQueen” Monaco (circa 1970)

In this posting, we provide an overview of the first of Heuer’s “Big Three” models, the Autavia.  Our overview of the Autavia provides information for today’s collectors.  We focus on the versions of the Autavia that are most accessible to today’s collectors, rather than the very rare executions or prototypes that today’s collector cannot expect to find (or afford).  (For example, we will not cover the Chronomatic Autavias here; for those who may be interested in the Chronomatic Autavias, I have written a separate posting covering the “Chronomatics”.)

Three manual-wind, screw-back Autavias from the 1960s.

Three manual-wind, screw-back Autavias from the 1960s.

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TAG Heuer at BaselWorld 2015 -- I Believe in Biver

No, this is not Jean-Calude Biver’s first visit to the BaselWorld watch fair, but it is the first time he’ll be there as CEO of TAG Heuer.  Since Biver assumed this position, TAG Heuer enthusiasts have been nervously anticipating how Biver might re-position the brand, their fears stirred by constant suggestions that TAG Heuer would become the “entry level” brand for the LVMH watch group.  During the course of BaselWorld, we will learn a lot more.

But let’s look at the watches released in the first hours of BaselWorld to see what lessons we might learn about Biver’s leadership of the brand.  These watches send an exciting message about the future of TAG Heuer and about Biver’s vision for the brand.  I believe that we can learn at least eight lessons as the 8:00 AM opening of BaselWorld approaches.

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Model Overview: Heuer Jarama Chronograph

Heuer’s Caliber 12 automatic chronographs of the 1970s are easily divided into three generations.  The first generation was comprised of the three models that Heuer used to introduce its automatic chronographs in 1969 — the Autavia, Carrera and Monaco.  The second generation was introduced over the period from 1971 to 1974, as Heuer developed three models that embodied the look of the 1970s — the Montreal, Silverstone and Calculator.  In 1977, Heuer introduced the third generation of Caliber 12 powered automatic chronographs – the Cortina, Daytona, Jarama, Kentucky and Monza, with the Verona arriving in 1978.

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Remember the Good Old Days . . . Before OnTheDash?

We launched OnTheDash on February 12, 2003, with an email message to 80 recipients.  A few days ago, I received a message from one of these recipients, who I have been in touch with from time to time over the years.  In his message he reminisced about the good old days, shared some thoughts about the state of the current market, and also posed a few questions for me.  To mark the 12th birthday of OnTheDash, let me publish the message that I sent to this gentleman.


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Found – Heuer’s Very First Automatic Chronograph (Chronomatic Autavia)

For years, Heuer collectors have stared at the image – its shows three Heuer chronographs, each bearing only the Heuer shield at the top of the dial and the word “Chronomatic” at the bottom of the dial.  There are no model names on the dials, but the Heuer enthusiasts know exactly what they are – the Carrera, the Monaco and the Autavia that Heuer introduced in 1969, as the world’s first automatic chronographs.

Advertisement from March 1969, showing Heuer’s three automatic chronographs (Chronomatics)

This was the first image that Heuer used to market its first automatic chronographs – the Chronomatics.  The images of these three watches appeared in the March 3, 1969 press release in which Heuer introduced its first automatic chronographs and in industry publications that first presented these watches to the world, including the Swiss Watch and Jewelry Journal, the official publication of the March 1969 Basel Fair.

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Auction Report – Three Interesting Heuers Sold Today (December 10, 2014)

Today, we saw two “live” auctions of interesting vintage Heuer chronographs, a black PVD-coated Heuer Monaco, Reference 74033, and an Abercrombie & Fitch Seafarer, Reference 2443.  In this posting, we’ll take a quick look at these two watches and the results of the sales.  We will also take a look at a Heuer Carrera, Reference 2447S that achieved a strong price in one of these auctions

Heuer Monaco, in Black PVD, Reference 74033

The Black PVD Monaco is one of the icons of the Heuer world. There has been some debate about the origins of this model — prototype versus production — but there is no debate about the scarcity and value of these watches.  Over the last decade, we have seen fewer than 20 of these watches, and this model holds the record for the highest price ever paid for a vintage Heuer, with one selling in December 2010, for approximately $75,000.  If we are lucky, in a given year, we might expect to see one of these watches offered in a public sale.  It’s December 10, and I believe that this was the first Black PVD Monaco that we saw on the auction block in 2014.

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A Noteworthy Watch -- Abercrombie & Fitch / Heuer Solunar (Posting by Jeff Simon)

“A Notable Watch” will be a series of postings in which we take a quick look at an interesting watch.  We will start this series by republishing a message that Jeff Simon posted on our discussion forum a few weeks ago, My A&F Heuer Solunar, a Little Family History.

I purchased this watch several months back from a gentleman who has a network of estate sale buyers throughout the eastern United States. With his help and some research of my own, I learned a bit about the original owner, the widow of whom the watch was purchased from days before it was sold to me.

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Spotted – Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn has Upgraded from a $170 Michael Kors Watch to a $7,500 Rolex Submariner

Last year, in the course of writing a posting covering the $95 Fossil watch worn by Alabama football coach Nick Saban, I identified and commented on the watches worn by some other prominent college football coaches – Steve Spurrier, Les Miles, Mark Richt and a few others.  These gentlemen are leaders of popular football programs and are highly visible on Saturdays during the season, with the cameras following their every move and gesture, as they pace up and down the sidelines.

Michael Kors for Gus Malzahn

One of the more surprising discoveries of last year’s research was that first-year Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn was wearing a Michael Kors chronograph.  It wasn’t so much the $170 “street” price of the watch that surprised me, but the fact that Michael Kors is a “fashion” brand, most often preferred by teenage girls.  (Or as one of my daughters once told me, “by the time you get out of college, you want something a little more sophisticated”.)  Malzahn’s Michael Kors chronograph looks a bit fussy, or even flimsy, not matching up well against Nick Saban’s more rugged looking $95 Fossil chronograph.

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Contest: Predict the Hammer Price of the Graves Supercomplication

If you are reading this, then you probably already know the basics.  The Patek Philippe Henry Graves Supercomplication watch is the most complicated watch ever produced by humans (without the aid of computers) and holds the record as the most expensive watch ever sold at auction, achieving a “hammer price” of $10 million at a Sotheby’s auction held in 1999 (or $11 million, including the buyer’s premium).  The experts among you may be able to count off the watch’s 24 complications, tell us the details of Mr. Graves’ life and recite the ownership history of the watch.  Everyone knows that this amazing watch will again be sold by Sotheby’s on November 11, at an auction in Geneva.

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The Reader's Guide to the Upcoming Patek Philippe Auctions

The Reader’s Guide to the Upcoming Patek Philippe Auctions

Over the next eight days, we will witness two historic auctions, in Geneva, Switzerland, that will offer for sale the most legendary Patek Philippe watches that our generation is likely to see under one (or two roofs).  On Sunday, November 9, 2014, Christie’s will celebrate the 175th anniversary of Patek Philippe with an auction of 100 Patek Philippe watches.  On Tuesday, November 11, 2014, Sotheby’s will hold an auction of “Important Watches”, which will include what is thought by many to be the most important watch of all, the Patek Philippe Henry Graves Supercomplication watch (shown below).

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I Said: Wanna Have Lunch? He Said: Sure. Wanna Buy a Watch?

One of the special pleasures of this watch collecting hobby is that, every once in a while, we get to actually meet the wonderful people that we chat with all the time, by e-mail, on discussion forums, through Twitter and Facebook, and by telephone.  Over the years, one of my favorite “pen pals” has been Ken Jacobs, the owner of Wanna Buy A Watch, a watch store in Los Angeles.  Based on his selection of watches, I can say that Ken and I have the same eye for watches. Over the years, I have bought several watches from Ken, gotten some good advice from him, and enjoyed all our conversations.  In addition to having a great “eye”, I have always found Ken to have good integrity.  When he describes a watch and answers your questions about it, you will know what you are buying.

Ken sent me a message a few weeks saying that he would be visiting Atlanta, and we decided that we would get together for lunch.  I promised Ken that I would bring a few Heuers for “show and tell”, and he asked whether there were any particular watches that I might like to see, from his store.

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Determining Authenticity -- Vintage Heuer Monacos

Of all the vintage Heuer chronographs that we see, the Monaco Reference 73663 B (three register, manual wind Monaco, with a blue dial) may win the prize for being the model with the highest percentage of fakes, refinished dials, replacement hands and other issues of authenticity.  In some instances, only one element has been replaced, while in others it is difficult to find any genuine Heuer components in the watch.  It is difficult to arrive at a general rule for valuing the samples that have these issues, but it would be fair to suggest that the value of these troubled watches is typically less than one-half the value of an authentic one.

This posting focuses on the Monaco Reference 73663 B, because so many of them are fake and because the information that is useful in authenticating this model (or in spotting a fake) will be useful in evaluating other versions of the Monaco.  Toward the end of this posting, we look at samples of other fake Monacos — a Caliber 12 automatic model and a two-register manual-wind model.  No doubt, however, that the lessons learned on the Reference 73663 B will be useful in examining other models.

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Heuers on the Sea -- 25 Years of Yacht Timers (1959 to 1984)

Although today’s enthusiasts associate Heuer most closely with motorsports, over the years Heuer developed and marketed a vast array of stopwatches and chronographs for timing all sorts of sports events.  Glancing at Heuer’s 1970 /71 catalog of timers and chronographs, we see timepieces for over 40 sports, ranging from bobsledding to boxing, and from and rodeo to rugby.

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The Definitive History of the Abercrombie & Fitch Seafarer Chronograph

It’s Summertime . . . Seafarer Season

The world of vintage watch collecting is marked by relatively few “seasonal” trends, but as surely as the dark skies of winter will turn to the blue of summer, vintage Heuer collectors will observe an increased interest in a certain series of watches. The watch is the Abercrombie & Fitch Seafarer, manufactured by Heuer for A & F on a private-label basis from the early 1950s into the 1970s, and also sold under the Heuer “Mareographe” and Orvis “Solunagraph” names. (We will generally refer to all these chronographs as “Seafarers”, as the Abercrombie versions were produced in the highest quantities.)

Three Abercrombie & Fitch Seafarers

With its special dial to show the times of the high and low tides, vivid colors and stout case, the Seafarer is the perfect vintage Heuer chronograph for the beach.

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Discovered: Transitional Version of 1960s Autavia

Our vintage Heuer community has been online for over a decade now.  We have assembled thousands of images, created reference tables covering hundreds of models, and written articles, blogs, books and forum postings covering the most intricate (and obscure) details of the vintage Heuers.  Sometimes, we may convince ourselves that there is little remaining to be learned, in terms of cataloging the models that Heuer produced from the 1950s through the 1980s.  Ironically, this abundance of information makes it all the more exciting when we discover a new version of a favorite watch.

Transitional Autavia -- Dial Detail

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Heuer Timepieces in the Film Le Mans

In the community of vintage Heuer enthusiasts, the story of how Steve McQueen came to wear a Monaco chronograph in the film Le Mans has been told many times.  Indeed,  Jean-Christophe Babin, ex-CEO of TAG Heuer (2001-2013) has proclaimed that “Jack [Heuer’s] greatest achievement is to have succeeded in placing a ‘Monaco’ chronograph on the wrist of Steve McQueen during the shooting of the film Le Mans in 1970”.  Jack Heuer’s narrative of this story, in his recently published autobiography, is the authoritative version of this story.

McQueen Le Mans Banner

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Introducing the Best (Looking) TAG Heuer Carrera Ever

As a vintage watch enthusiast, I will admit that our community can be tough on the companies that produce modern watches, especially when it comes to how today’s brands re-issue some of their legendary watches.  If the brand is too literal in re-issuing one of its classic watches, we say that the company lacked creativity or imagination.  If the new watch strays too far from the original one, we accuse the brand of misusing a legendary name.  As much as members of the vintage community sincerely want to embrace the modern watches offered by our cherished brands, it can be difficult.  Why are registers so close together?  Why can’t we have a 12-hour recorder?  Why is the watch so thick?  Why is the watch so expensive?  Sometimes I wonder whether it is even possible for the old-timers to be genuinely enthusiastic about a modern watch.

TAG Heuer Carrera CH80 -- Four

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The Dirty Dozen – 12 Questions to Ask When You are Buying a Vintage Watch

With this morning’s news that celebrity watch collector John Mayer is suing celebrity watch dealer Bob Maron, for $656,000, in a dispute regarding the authenticity of some vintage Rolex watches, there came the reaction, “That’s why I don’t buy vintage watches.”  While I will not suggest that any simple list of questions could have brought peace and understanding between Mr. Mayer and Mr. Maron, I offer the following 12 areas of inquiry to assist the average purchaser in evaluating a vintage watch that she may wish to purchase.


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