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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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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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.

mcqueenlemansa

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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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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.

AutCupMatchImage16Mar17

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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.

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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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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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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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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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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.

Questions

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Vintage Heuer -- The Best of 2013

2013 was a fantastic year for the community that collects vintage Heuer chronographs.  The community had 30 members participate in a Summit in La Chaux-de-Fonds, TAG Heuer celebrated “50 Years of the Carrera”, we saw new books and websites dedicated to the vintage Heuers, and activity on our discussion forums reached an all-time high.

Heuer -- Best 0f 2013
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Forum Classic: Five Friends Visit TAG Heuer Headquarters

This is the first in a series of postings in which we will take some of the most interesting postings from the OnTheDash Discussion Forum, and present them here as blog postings.  The following is derived from a posting on our forum on April 20, 2012, reporting on a March 2012 visit to the TAG Heuer headquarters, in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland.  You can click on any of the 120 photographs to see a a high resolution version.

We sincerely thank Laurent (“Noodia”) for this fantastic posting and hope that you will enjoy his report.

Jeff Stein
August 13, 2013

Five Friends; Six Heuers

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Longitude -- Coverage of Vintage Heuers on Christie's Watch Blog

Last summer, I became a contributor to “Longitude“, Christie’s blog about watches.  One year later, it’s interesting to compile the postings about vintage Heuers that have appeared on Longitude.  The following provides an overview of these postings, most of which were written by Meehna Goldsmith, the Editor of Longitude, although I am happy to have added a few postings along the way.

Christie’s conducts six major auctions per year, and has also recently opened its “Private Sales” division.  It’s great that Christie’s is paying attention to the vintage Heuers.  Of course, Meehna’s personal passion and respect for the brand also explains the very favorable coverage!!

Here are summaries of nine of the Longitude postings that have focused on the vintage Heuer chronographs.

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Manifesto -- Benefits of Twitter for Watch Enthusiasts

I have been on Twitter for around three years — which probably makes me something of an old-timer in that world — and have also been a strong advocate of Twitter for people who collect watches.   A recent posting on our discussion forum, and the responses to that posting, have left me thinking about the real benefits for watch collectors.  In the spirit of Twitter, I will keep the “bullet items” brief.

Benefits of Twitter for watch collectors and enthusiasts:

  • Find Watches Listed for Sale:  Increasingly, retailers and individual sellers are using Twitter to list watches for sale. Because Twitter is so quick and easy, it may be the very first channel in which a watch is listed. In other words, a retailer prepares a “For Sale” listing on its website, then “Tweets” the listing.   Read more »

Watching Twitter -- Recommendations for Watch Enthusiasts

I’m a big fan of Twitter, and believe that it is an especially worthwhile channel for watch collectors.  “Readers” can keep up with news in the watch world and find interesting postings and articles, as soon as they are published.  “Writers” can Tweet when they have published new blog postings, webpages, articles or even messages on discussion forums.  In terms of finding watches to purchase, there are several reliable dealers who post notices whenever they list interesting watches for sale, and we are seeing more watches sell very quickly by means of Twitter.

On a couple of occasions, folks have asked me “Who are the best people to follow on Twitter?”, and there was recently a thread on a leading discussion forum, in which participants listed their favorite people to follow in the world of watches.  Accordingly, I believe that it will be useful to publish a list of “recommended” people to follow on Twitter.

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The Chronomatics -- Rarest of the Vintage Heuers

For vintage watch collectors, the difference between a “grail” watch and an ordinary watch is often a matter of small details. The texture of the paint, the length of a hash mark, the style of the serifs or the aging of the lume can all affect the collectability and value of a vintage watch. The 10x loupe has become standard equipment for examining the rare ones; sometimes, we need the extra power of a microscope, just to be sure. We showed you how little details can make a difference in the Black PVD Heuer Monaco.

It’s not so nuanced, however, for those pursuing the rarest of the vintage Heuer chronographs. There is one word — located at the top dead center of the dial — that evidences the rarest of the rare in the world of vintage Heuers. The word “Chronomatic” alerts the collector that he or she has found the ultimate vintage Heuer chronograph. In this posting, we will consider where the origins of the word “Chronomatic” and provide an overview of the four (or five) models that bear this special designation.

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On a Roll -- Vintage Heuers in 2012

On A Roll Header

The community of vintage Heuer enthusiasts is a great place to be right now.  Over the past two years, the community has celebrated Heuer’s  150th anniversary, high profile auctions, the publication of books, blogs and websites, and even the discovery of new models.  Prices for the old Heuers have been strong, even through the depths of the global recession, with vibrant public and private markets.

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Leap Day 2012 -- Wrist-Shot Wednesday, at Last

“Leap Day” (February 29th) is a special day that only occurs every four years.  Watch guys who own perpetual calendars marvel as the “29” arrives at midnight; 24 hours, they are even more impressed when the date moves to “1”.  This year, I marked Leap Day by playing hooky from work — traveling to New York City to take care of a couple of non-work related matters.  I mean, in most years (or 75% of them, to be precise), 28 days are enough for February, so I decided to end February 2012 on the 28th and declare the 29th to be a free day . . . off the calendar.

During the course of the day, I saw a “Watch You Wearing” message on our discussion forum, so I decided to take some wrist shots, all along the way.  [I usually don’t take wrist-shots, but maybe I will make an exception every February 29th.]

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Paul Gavin Shows Us How to Make a Watch Storage Case

The following is from a discussion forum posting by Paul Gavin; sincere thanks to Paul for allowing us to post his words and photos here.

Inspired by some posts on TZUK I got it into my head that I needed a suitable watch storage case. I started with 3 small aluminium cases bought off ebay that carried 12 watches each but then I found a really cool bigger case so as one does, I replaced the 3 smaller ones with one big one. So here is a quick guide to making a watch storage case.

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Field Guide to the Heuer Autavia, Reference 1163 (Black Dial)

Yesterday, on the TZ-UK Watch Talk discussion forum, I posted a photo showing four versions of the Heuer Autavia, Reference 1163, each with a black dial.  A reader of that forum (under the name “even neve”) posted a message, stating, “Very nice – but don’t see the point in having four watches looking all the same. Maybe you could mod some of them ?”  Well, that would be an interesting idea . . . “modding” (modifying) a vintage Autavia.  Two of the watches have the same polished steel hands, so perhaps I would replace one set with some bright orange or red hands?  Three of them have the same black Minutes / Hours (MH) bezel, so perhaps I could find a more colorful bezel for one of them, perhaps something in the “Pepsi” colors?  Four stainless steel cases?  Maybe one of them would look nice in black PVD. 

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Communicate Well with Your Watchmaker -- Lesson Two

A few months ago, we had a posting about a very rare Chronomatic Carrera that had been destroyed by a local jeweler.  The jeweler had the dial refinished, thinking that the customer would be pleased to have a nice fresh coat of paint, rather than the aged dial of the original watch.  I would estimate that this little surprise for the customer took the value of this watch from something like $5,000 to $7,000 to around $1,000.  [In understanding these values, I should also mention that the movement had been replaced, but we don’t know exactly when that occured . . . perhaps another little “surprise” from a jeweler!] 

Today, we see an eBay listing for an Autavia that started life (in 1970) as a 1163 MH and — through the work of a service center — the watch has ended up as nothing but a mess. 

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The Care and Feeding of NOS Watches

Every once in a while, I receive a message from someone who is very excited to have recently purchased a “New Old Stock” chronograph, but is — at the same time — disappointed that the beautiful watch of thier dreams either (a) is not running properly (or is not running at all), or (b) has just been diagnosed as needing an expensive servicing. The questions vary: Why does a New Old Stock watch need servicing?  Isn’t a New Old Stock watch supposed to be perfect?  Why didn’t the seller tell me that the watch needed an overhaul?   The final gasp is to the effect that the purchaser paid top dollar for a NOS watch, and they never contemplated that they would need to invest an extra $500 to $700, just to get the watch to run.  How can this have happened?

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My Three Favorite Heuers? This Baker's Dozen!

A couple of days ago, over on our discussion forum, David Howlett posted the question, “If you could only have three Heuers in your collection, what would they be?”  This kind of question comes up from time to time, in a variety of formulations, so rather than posting my response on the forum, let me do a quick posting here, so that this response will have a more permanent home.

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Communicate Well with Your Watchmaker (or be Prepared to Suffer the Consequences)

Shown below is an eBay listing for a Chronomatic Carrera, that should teach all of us a lesson.  The Chronomatics are among the rarest of the vintage Heuers, with no more than 20 samples known within the community of collectors.  Of these, the Chronomatic Carreras are especially rare, with only three or four having been spotted over the past decade.

Read the eBay listing below, to see how a local jeweler — hoping to surprise the owner with a little extra work on the dial – destroyed the watch.  It ended up selling on eBay for $1,200; an original Chronomatic Carrera in decent condition would probably have been worth at least five times that amount

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The King's Special Meal

The following story came to me from a reader a few minutes ago, and somehow it seems relevant to live auctions, rare watches and those who buy such watches at such auctions:

Once upon a time, the King was hunting, and became lost in the woods.  He wandered around for several hours, could not find his way out of the woods, and grew hungier and hungrier, as the hours passed.  As it became dark, the King finally came to the small hut of a lonely peasant, in the darkest part of the woods.

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Definitions of “New Old Stock” and “Mint”

I have recently received an interesting e-mail message, posing the question of exactly what is – and what is not – this elusive “New Old Stock” that we hear so much about.  Drawing on a previous discussion on our Chronocentric vintage Heuer discussion forum, and realizing that opinions (and values) may vary considerably, let’s consider the definitions of “NOS” and “Mint”, as they relate to vintage watches.

Under my definition, a watch could be described as “New Old Stock” if:

  • the watch is comprised of the parts with which it was originally manufactured, with no replacement of any parts, and
  • the watch has never been worn, except for a customer to try it on, in the dealer showroom, or for the owner to try it on, without wearing it for an extended period.

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The (Vintage Heuer) Year in Review -- 2009

 The year 2009 was an amazing year in the world of vintage Heuers. Our community developed in many new directions; prices for the vintage Heuers were relatively strong; and there were important events throughout the year. This column will present a few highlights of the year, along with some thoughts about what might lie ahead for 2010.

Development of Our Community; New Resources for Collectors: The community of vintage Heuer collectors developed in some amazing ways during the year 2009. We saw the opening of a new discussion forum, dedicated to the vintage Heuers, in Italy (VetroPlastica), with Gianvittorio Molteni as the driving force behind the forum. We had a new blog from David Chalmers in HK (Calibre11.com) and a new website from Richard Crosthwaite in the UK (heuermonaco.com).

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