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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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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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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