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.

Heuer’s Caliber 12 Chronographs — The Three Generations

We will take a quick look at the three models shown below, as representative of the three generations of Heuer’s Caliber 12 chronographs, and then take a detailed look at the Jarama model.

The First Generation.  The Carrera, Reference 1153 (above left) carries forward many of the key design elements of the 1960s Carreras, with the hands, markers and contrasting registers being natural continuations of the second series of Carreras, introduced in this same time frame.  The case has been enlarged to accommodate the thicker Caliber 12 movement, but these first automatic Carreras bring forward the minimalism of the 1960s Carreras.  These Carreras measure 38.5 millimeters across the dial, with a thickness of 14 millimeters, and are 44 millimeters from lug-to-lug.  The weight of the watch, with no strap or bracelet, is 64 grams.

The Second Generation.  With the Montreal, we have an explosion that is representative of the second generation Caliber 12 chronographs.  The case is a slab of stainless steel, designed not to settle quietly onto the wrist but to stand above it and be seen.  Hands, hash-marks, registers and even the chronograph needles are bright and bold, larger and louder than those of the first generation Carrera.  How else can we explain the bright yellow stripes on the minute recorder, other than intending to shock the senses.  If the Carrera evokes the calmness of the original 1964 Carrera, every element of the Montreal screams, “It’s the 70s.  Look at me.”

The dimensions of the Montreal confirm the growth of these chronographs from the first automatic Carreras.  At 42.5 millimeters across the dial, the Montreal is 4 millimeters larger than the Carrera.  The measurement from lug-to-lug is 47.5 millimeters, but of course the Montreal has no lugs, the case being a thick, rounded arc of steel.  At 94 grams, the Montreal is almost 50% heavier than the Carrera (at 64 grams).

The Third Generation.  For its third series of Caliber 12 chronographs, Heuer used names of legendary places.  The Daytona, Jarama and Monza are associated with motorsports; Kentucky is the most famous location for horseracing; and the names Cortina and Verona represent Heuer’s association with the lifestyle of Italian jet-setters.

Each model in this generation shows a retreat from the exuberance of the Monteal and its second generation companions, the Silverstone and Calculator.  Studying the Jarama, we see that the hands, markers and needles have lost some weight.  The case has been trimmed substantially from the Montreal and is comparable to the Carrera in every dimension.  The contrasting registers are gone, replaced by the elegance of black-on-black.  The fluted gold bezel is the only element that catches the eye, and even this style bezel has its roots in watches from the 1920s (as described below).

The Heuer Jarama Chronograph

The Jarama Name

The Jarama chronograph was named for Circuito del Jarama (the Circuit of Jarama), a purpose-built racetrack located in arid scrub land, 17 miles north of Madrid, Spain.  The 2.11 mile circuit consists primarily of tight, twisty corners, and one relatively short straight, which always made overtaking extremely difficult.

The Jarama circuit had a checkered history as a Formula One venue.  The track hosted its first Spanish Grand Prix in November 1967, a non-championship race won by Jim Clark in this Lotus 49.  In May 1968, Graham Hill (also driving a Lotus 49) won the first Formula One championship race held at Jarama, a bittersweet victory after Clark’s death the previous month.

From 1968 through 1975, Jarama and the Montjuic street circuit, near Barcelona, alternated as hosts of the Spanish Grand Prix, but Jarama became the permanent home of the race in 1976, after a tragic accident at Montjuic killed four spectators in the 1975 race.  Jarama hosted Formula One races annually from 1976 through 1981.  Mario Andretti won consecutive races in 1977 and 1978, the Jarama circuit being well-suited for the excellent ground effects of his Lotus 78.  The 1980 race was declared to be a non-championship race because of a dispute between the factory teams and the independent constructors.

The 1981 Spanish Grand Prix would be the last Formula One race staged at the track, and went down in history as one of the great races in Formula One history, with Gilles Villeneuve driving a brilliant race to hold off a train of four other cars, with these five cars crossing the finish line in the space of 1.24 seconds.  [This race is described in more detail below.]

The Series. 

Heuer’s 1978 catalog (shown below) shows the three confirmed versions of the Jarama.

Two of the Jaramas have distinctive gold fluted bezels, similar to those used on the Rolex Turnographs of the 1960s and 70s.  The Reference 110.225 has a gold (champagne) dial and the Reference 110.245 has a black dial.  Both these models have inner bezels that match the color of the dial, with scales marked for Tachymeter (60 to 220 units per hour) and Pulsations (with the scale reading 200 to 60, based on a count of 15 pulses).  These models were offered with bi-metallic bracelets, made of steel and gold-plated links.

  

The Reference 110.223 Jarama (shown below) has a different look from the 225 and 245, as it has a smooth black, powder-coated bezel.  The dial and inner bezel are both black, matching the bezel, and this model comes with a unique bracelet, constructed of steel and black links.

The Jarama had a short lifespan, appearing in Heuer’s 1977 and 1978 catalogs, but deleted from the 1979 edition.  Serial numbers of the Jarama all seem to be in the 356xxx range, suggesting that total production of the Jarama was under 1,000 watches.

A Closer Look at the Jarama.  

All the Jaramas have a distinctive stainless steel case, with a tonneau shape.  The top surface has a brushed starburst finish; both the sides of the case and the angled surface between the sides and the top are polished.  The pushers are covered at the front of the case and open at the back.

Dials of the Jarama are relatively clean.  The applied steel markers are thin, with a small luminous dot at the outer end.  As on all the Caliber 12 models produced after around 1972, there are 12 Arabic numerals on the hour recorder, with 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 on the minute recorder.

The edges of the hands are white on the models with black dials, with black used for the gold (champagne) dial.  The Jaramas have simple pencil-shaped (index) hands, with lume extending almost the entire length of the hands and a black area toward the interior portion of the hands.

The Mystery Jarama. 

The Jarama shown below was listed on two dealer sites, within the past four years.   Both Steinberg & Frazier, of Buckinghamshire, England, and Bachmann & Scher, of Muncih, Germany, offered this watch for sale, describing it as having a white gold bezel.  This version is not shown in any Heuer catalog, and our best experts have no information about this execution.

But somehow, the Jarama just wouldn’t be a true vintage Heuer if there weren’t at least one mystery model, lurking in the shadows.

The Jarama — On the Wrist.

I have been collecting Heuer chronographs for around 15 years and had never been tempted by the Jarama.  I’ll admit it – on the Reference 110.225 and 245 models, I just couldn’t get past the look of the fluted gold bezel.  Way too much bling for me!  And somehow, this blingy bezel seemed to infect my view of the Reference 110.223 model, looking as if the offending bezel had been replaced by a black “delete plate”.

I’ll make another confession – I bought the Jarama Reference 110.245 featured in this posting primarily for the sake of the red Heuer box, in which it was offered for sale.  But as soon as I took this Jarama out of its box, I realized what it was meant to be — an elegant watch that belongs on a dressy leather strap, with the gold bezel adding a festive look.

I have pretty well sworn off the Carrera Reference 1153s, as being too lumpy.  I have also sworn off the entire second generation Caliber 12 chronographs as far too large, sitting defiantly atop my wrist rather than on my wrist.  The Jarama addresses both these concerns, being about the size of the Carrera but with a shape that looks perfect on my wrist.  The angular lugs of the Carrera, first drawn in 1963 and reshaped in 1969, are softened in the Jarama, following the shape of my wrist.  Just as the black-on-black of the registers causes them to blend quietly into the dial, the partially-covered pushers largely disappear from view.

I bought this Jarama for the sake of the red box, and three weeks later it’s hard not to imagine having this watch in my collection.

Additional Notes 

Origins of the Fluted Bezel

While we think of the fluted bezel as a decorative element on today’s watches, had its origins in the very first waterproof watches.  Rolex reports that when the Rolex Oyster first appeared in 1926, the fluted bezel had a functional purpose — it served to screw the bezel onto the case helping to ensure that the watch was waterproof.  The fluting on the bezel was identical to the fluting on the case back, with the same tool being used to screw-down both the front bezel and the case-back.

Over time, the fluting became a purely aesthetic element, although it has again become functional on Rolex’s Sky-Dweller models (being designated as the Ring Command bezel, used to select watch setting functions).

Lamborghini’s Jarama

Heuer’s Jarama took its name from the Jarama racing circuit, but the name of the Lamborghini Jarama had slightly different origins.  A Taurus himself, Ferruccio Lamborghini was fascinated with bullfighting.  After introducing two cars known only by their numbers,the 350 GT and the 400 GT, Lamborghini began using names associated with bullfighting.  The Miura (1966) was named after the most famous breeder of fighting bulls; the Islero (1966) was the bull that killed the legendary Manolete in 1947, and the Espada (1968) is the sword that the matador uses to kill the bull.  The Lamborghini Jarama followed this theme, being named for the region of Spain recognized for breeding fighting bulls.

Designed by Marcello Gandini and introduced at the 1970 Geneva Motor Show, the Jarama was a 2+2 model, front-engined coupe, developed as a successor to the Islero.  The purpose of the redesign was to meet US safety and emissions requirements, with a style aimed at the wealthy who didn’t want the exotic style of the Miura.   The Jarama was powered by a 4.0 liter V12 engine that delivered 350 hp to the rear wheels.  The new model was a failure, however, with only 177 Jaramas produced over its first two years.

Introduced in 1973, the Jarama GTS had a new, more efficient exhaust system, together with revised heads, cams and carburetor, raising the power to 365 Bhp, resulting in a 260 Km/h. top speed.  Despite its improvements, the Jarama GTS was hardly more successful than the previous GT model, with only 150 units sold in its two years of production.

In total, the Lamborghini Jarama had a six-year production run from 1970 to 1976 with a total of 328 cars being built.  In today’s market for vintage cars, the Jarama remains under-appreciated, living in the shadow of the brilliant style of the Miura and the stunning performance of the Countach.

1981 Spanish Grand Prix at Jarama — Villeneuve’s Greatest Win

The 1981 Spanish Grand Prix, staged at Jarama, is remembered as one of the most exciting races in Grand Prix history and many would say that it was Gilles Villeneuve’s greatest Formula One victory.  Held in June, the temperature at race-time as 100 degrees Farenheit, perhaps contributing to the poor attendance at the race.

Jacques Laffite was on pole, in his Talbot Ligier Matra, followed by Alan Jones and Carlos Reuteman, both in Williams-Fords, with Gilles Villeneuve  starting seventh in his Ferrari.  At the start, a clutch problem dropped Lafitte to 11th, and Jones took the lead into the first corner, followed by Reuteman.  Villeneuve had a perfect start, jumping from seventh to third, going into the first corner. At the end of the first lap, Villeneuve out-braked Reutermann to move into second place.

Alan Jones had the fastest car on the track, pulling away at over one second per lap, but made a mistake and went off on lap 14.   Villeneue now led the race, with Reutermann, Laffite, Watson and De Angelis in pursuit.  The four pursuit cars were significantly better in the corners, but Villeneuve’s V6 turbo allowed him to pull away on the straights.  Reutemen held second place for 48 laps, but was unable to get past Villeneuve.  On lap 62, Reuteman was slowed by one of the back-markers, allowing Lafitte to move into second place.  Lafitte made constant attempts to pass Villeneuve for the last 19 laps of the race, with no success.  As with Reuteman, Lafitte was faster in the corners, but was unable to get past Villeneuve, who easily pulled away on the straights.

Autocourse described the race:  “Round and round; red leading blue, leading red and white, leading green and white, leading black — in the space of two seconds– for lap after lap.”

Gilles Villeneuve finished first, followed by Jacques Laffite (.218 seconds behind), John Watson (0.543 behind), Carlos Reutermann (0.836 behind) and Elio De Angelis rounding out the top five in his Lotus Ford (1.24 seconds behind).  After the race, the usually businesslike Enzo Ferrari compared Gilles Villeneuve to the man he considered his driver ever, Tazio Nuvolari.  Carlos Reuteman declared that Jarama 1981 wasn’t a race, but a show for the brilliant Villeneuve.  [Click here for video highlights of the race (in Spanish).]

The 1981 Spanish Grand Prix would be the last Formula One race held at Jarama and also Gilles Villeneuve’s last victory, as he would be killed at Zolder in May 1982.  Villeneuve won only six Formula One races in his career and most would agree that his drive at Jarama on June 21, 1981 was the most impressive of these wins.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Additional resources:

See the OnTheDash section covering the Jaramas, HERE.

Additional images relating to this posting are HERE.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Jeff Stein
March 16, 2015

Heuer Logo (White on Black)