Heuer Carrera 1153N

The Chrono-matic story continues.

I saw this watch on a watch trading forum which has its software rooted in the 1990s and despite having supposed rules about what is and isn’t allowed, is not officially policed – so scammers and thieves abound.

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After a good deal of due diligence, I bought it because I’d intended to switch the bracelet from the dark-faced (“N”) to the silver (“S”) 1153 Carrera, as discussed previously. The bracelet is a “Gay Frères BoR”, aka Beads-of-Rice, and is valuable in its own right – in good condition and with the end-links, it’s worth north of £1000.

IMG_8537Gay Frères made bracelets for all sorts – Heuer, Zenith, Patek Philippe etc, before being acquired by Rolex in 1998, in a move to hoover up former suppliers so they could do everything in-house.

The bracelet dates to February 1969, so fits with the expected age of the watch and is supposedly original to it.

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But after I got the watch, I couldn’t separate it from the bracelet – and quickly decided that I preferred the dark dial. It supposedly started life as a charcoal/black colour (hence the “N” for “Noir” in the reference number):

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… but in some light, it is definitely a beautiful blue, and the white subdials and bezel have taken on a creamy colour. The hands look to have been re-lumed in the past, and don’t quite match (they’re a bit too green).

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As expected with an early watch, it’s got the first-execution Cal11 movement.

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The serial number is in the range 1477nn, so it’s only a couple of hundred later than the 1153N which sold for nearly £30K at the “Heuer Parade” auction in November 2017. That one is in spectacular condition and is probably unique, though…(Heuer put Chronomatic on the dial for a few months, before selling the name to Breitling – and they had a long association with Abercrombie and Fitch, so this is thought to be the only one with both marks on the dial…)

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Heuer “Calibre 11” Carrera 1153S

As mentioned in the Watch out for Franken Watches post, the first Heuers I appreciated were smaller cased, manual-wind Carreras. At the time, I thought the larger automatics from 1969 through to the late 1970s were a bit gauche, but over the course of a few years, tastes can change and I started looking out for them instead of the early ones.

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The first generation of automatic Carreras used the same “Calibre 11” movement that featured in the Monaco and Autavia watches from Heuer, themselves a major part of the “Chrono-matic” group that was in the race to build the first automatic chronograph. The case style was different from the earlier models in that the mid 1960s style was basically a round case with lugs protruding, but the late 60s/early 70s featured a “cushion” or “C-case” design where the curves of the case extend to the end of the lugs.

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This Carrera is a 1153S, and is quite early in the life of the model so probably originated from 1970. It has 12 / 3 / 6 / 9 on the subdial at 9 o’clock (later ones had 12 / 1 / 2 / 3 etc so that subdial looked a lot busier). The tachymeter scale is also from the first generation (known in Heuer circles as “1st execution”) as the word TACHY appears at 3 o’clock, and the scale starts at 200. Later models had TACHY at 1 o’clock and scale starting at 500, like most chronographs do.

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The hands on this 1153S are actually 2nd execution; it means that at some point either the original hands were replaced, or quite probably, the watch is a mixture – a 2nd execution watch with a 1st execution dial. There are numerous variants like this – Heuer just used whatever parts it had to hand, it seems.

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In common with all of the Chrono-matic watches, the crown is on the left side, and in this case features a Heuer “shield” logo and the two pushers on the right are round but with fluted cut-outs. The case finish was vertically brushed – this particular watch has lost some of the brushing through wear, but I don’t think it’s ever been polished.

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The Calibre 11 movement came in several revisions; this one is a first generation Cal 11, further underlining that it’s likely a 1970 watch, as the Cal 11i would have been used from late 1970.

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I bought this (from eBay; the usual story, badly-described, poor photos but intact) and had it serviced to keep it running well. It went onto a replica “Corfam” rally strap that suited it well, but I had a hankering to find a suitable bracelet… to be continued…

Heuer Carrera Re-edition #2

An addition to an earlier post is this smart-looking white-dialled version of the “Carrera” reissue, which TAG Heuer brought out in 1996, reference CS3110 .

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Here it is, next to its black-faced brother, the CS3111.

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I put both of them on perforated racing straps with a Heuer deployant clasp, which I think makes the watch feel (and look) so much better.

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The clasp is numbered FC5012 and retails for a hefty £250 or so (though they can be had for less if you shop around) and the strap (FC6167) is a good £150 though equivalent-sized straps are available elsewhere; one of these is the original TAG Heuer strap, and the other was an equivalent that was a fraction of the price and maybe even better quality.

Heuer Camaro

I love Heuer watches – there’s something a little off-piste and cool about them. They’re most famous for the 3 watches that came out in 1969, all featuring the same automatic movement – one of the first automatic chronographs, that featured in the Carrera, Autavia & Monaco watches.

But they had numerous other watches in the late 1960s and early 1970s, using a variety of hand-wound, off-the-shelf movements from Valjoux, including the relatively short-lived Camaro. It was launched in 1968 to celebrate the Chevrolet Camaro, but when Heuer focussed on the “Chronomatic” models (ie the automatic chronographs), they stopped selling Camaros in 1972.

Heuer Camaro 73343 -- Vintage Watch Advisors

This particular one was bought by a watchmaker from its original owner, serviced and sold to me – it’s in very original condition – clearly worn (with the original etched sunburst finish on the “cushion” case just about visible, though it’s pretty scuffed) but the dial & hands are, in my view, exceptional. In the sunlight, it looks almost dark brown.

Heuer Camaro 73343 -- Vintage Watch Advisors

It’s a bit of an unusual Camaro in that it’s model 73343 N, signifying that it has a black face with no Tachy track on the outside (partnering a similar looking watch which has a Tachy under the crystal, the 73343 NT). It’s a successor to the 7743, which looks very similar though has an earlier version of the Valjoyx 773x movement. It’s quite hard to date Heuers accurately for age, but I think this is from late 1970/early 1971.

Valjoux 7733 movement from Heuer Camaro 73343N  -- Vintage Watch Advisors

This Camaro has a 7733 movement, one of the last of the family before the automatic 7750 evolution was released, and is still used today (as either the ETA7750 or the generic parts-compatible copy, Sellita SW500).