Swiss watch maker Edouard Heuer founded the company that still bears his name in 1860. He began as a manufacturer of chronographs for sportsmen, and his early interest continues to be a hallmark of Heuer timepieces today.

It took half a century for Heuer’s firm to add wristwatches to its line of stopwatches, pocket watches, and dashboard chronographs. That occurred in 1913 and was instigated by the late founder’s sons, Jules and Charles.

The earliest Heuer wristwatches were made for women and featured gold or leather bands. Men’s chronograph wristwatches soon followed. A typical antique men’s Heuer wristwatch from the late 1910s and throughout the 1920s had a round stainless-steel case, gold numerals on a white dial, and hands that suggest an Art Nouveau influence. A button set within the crown (the winder) controlled the watch’s chronographic functions.

During this period, in 1916, Heuer made the first timer to record tenths of a second. That led to Heuer’s selection as the official timekeeper for the Olympic Games of 1920, 1924, and 1928.

Despite the Great Depression, the 1930s were a busy decade for Heuer. In 1930, it invented a flyback mechanism for its chronographs and patented a waterproof case. Functions such as automatic winding came shortly thereafter and in the middle of the decade, it produced steel Flieger chronographs for the German Air Force.

By the 1940s, triple-calendar chronographs began to appear. Cases came in steel or gold, with dials ranging from black to copper to white. These are among the most collectible vintage Heuers around. By the end of the decade, Heuer would introduce the Solunar, its first wristwatch to give tidal times.

The 1950s saw the introduction of the first of the so-called "poor man’s" Heuers, which were Heuer wristwatches either manufactured for third parties or for Heuer itself under a different brand. Aristo, Clebar, and Zodiac are examples of the latter, but Heuer also made wristwatches for U.S. watch maker Hamilton and retailers Sears (under the Tradition brand) and Tourneau...

Heuer’s most famous third-party client was undoubtedly Abercrombie & Fitch, whose early 1950s line of Seafarer and Auto-Graph wristwatches were heavily promoted by the clothing retailer. The nautically themed Seafarer featured blue-and-while indicators on white or black dials, giving wearers information on tides and the phases of the moon. The wristwatch design was so popular that Heuer repurposed it some years later as the Mareographe under its own label.

A&F’s Auto-Graph was introduced in 1953. This stylish watch was a triple-calendar chronograph, with numerals around the outside rim of the dial to help wearers calculate miles-per-hour and functions designed to calculate miles-per-gallon.

Another auto-themed wristwatch was the 1962 Autavia, which took its name from Heuer’s dashboard timers from the late 1950s. The elegant Carrera chronograph line was introduced the following year—both it and the Autavia featured movements manufactured by Valjoux.

Changes in Heuer’s ownership structure consumed much of the rest of the 1960s, but the company also produced a number of new models, including the Regatta in 1965, the Bundeswehr in 1967 (a brand picked up when Heuer acquired Leonides in 1964), the Camaro in 1968, and the square faced Monaco, which Steve McQueen made famous when he wore it in the 1971 racing film, Le Mans.

Key terms for Antique and Vintage Heuer Wristwatches:

Flyback: The ability to push a single button on a watch to stop, reset, or restart its chronograph function.

Chronograph: A watch that also records time intervals, like a stopwatch.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

OnTheDash

OnTheDash

Jeffrey Stein's great reference site on Heuer chronographs and dashboard timepieces. This site offers everything yo… [read review or visit site]

National Watch and Clock Museum

National Watch and Clock Museum

This virtual museum, created by the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, lets you stroll through tim… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Heuer Autavia Gmt Mark Iii Early 70's Valjoux 724 Chronograph 2446c For RepairTag Heuer Aquaracer 300m Automatic 41.5mm Fullsize Diver's Watch Blue DialHeuer Monaco - Steve Mcquee - Automatic Chronograph - 1133Heuer Diver Mens Watch Automatic Date Full SizeTag Heuer Grand Carrera Gmt Silver Watch Wav5112.ba0901 Tag Heuer Link Cjf2110.ba0576 Calibre 16 Chronograph Wrist Watch For Men 43mmVintage Tag Heuer Autavia 1972 Automatic Chronograph 1163 V, Barley Worn, W/ BoxTag Heuer Carrera Calibre 16 Cv2016-2.fc6233 Automatic Chronograph Watch For Men Vintage 60's Heuer Manual Wind Mechanical Chronograph 40mm Men WatchHeuer 1970ies Ref844 Automatic 200m Professionel Diver Collectors WatchHeuer White Autavia Chronograph Dial With Date For Valjoux 7734 , Nos ,60's!!!Vintage Heuer Carrera Cal.12 Ref 110.515 Chn Gold Plated For Ferrari DriversTag Heuer Link Cjf2114.ba0594 Automatic Blue Dial Chronograph Watch For MenGenuine Tag Heuer Carrera S/s Chronograph Automatic Watch Cv2113-0 (5418)Tag Heuer Carrera Re-edition Eta 2824-2 Automatic Date Ref. Ws2111 Men’s WatchNear Mint Tag Heuer Wan2110 Aquaracer 300m Calibre 5 Automatic 41mm Black DialTag Heuer Men's Carrera Automatic Chronograph Watch Cv2010Tag Heuer Rubber Strap And Deployant Clasp Bracelet 20mm Formula 1Tag Heuer Grand Carrera Chronometer Wav5113 Wrist Watch For MenTag Heuer Link Automatic Chronograph 200 Meters Watch Cjf2110.ba0576 W/ BoxHeuer 1980s Chronograph Quartz Mens Titanium & 18k Gold Wristwatch NosTag Heuer Women's Waf1312 Aquaracer Stainless Steel And Diamond WatchTag Heuer Carrera Chronograph Automatic Stainless Steel Watch Cv2010Tag Heuer Aquaracer Wan2111 Ba0822 Calibre 5 Blue Dial Automatic Watch For MenTag Heuer Wv2115-0 Carerra Calibre 7 Twin Time Automatic Watch - A+ ConditionTag Heuer Sel Men's Fullsize Ss Watch With Papers!Vintage Heuer Calculator Watch Ref: 110.633Tag Heuer Carrera Cv2a10 Chrono Automatic Cal. 16 Ss Leather Strap Boxes BookletMen`s Size Tag Heuer 1000 S/s Case Black Dial And Black Bezel Nice ConditionAuthentic Tag Heuer Grand Carrera - Caliber 6 Automatic Mens Watch - Black DialTag Heuer Stainless Steel Black Dial Professional Watch We1410-rTag Heuer Formula 1 Black Chronograph Quartz Cau1114 Ft6024 - Mint - No Reserve!Heuer Chronograph,white Panda Dial,valjoux 7734, Nos ,60's !!!Genuine Tag Heuer Link Professional Wt1210 Stainless Steel Quartz Mens WatchTag Heuer Aquaracer Calibre 5 Mens Swiss Automatic Watch Wap2011Men's Tag Heuer Formula 1 Stainless Steel Swiss Quartz Watch W/date, Wac1110Mens Tag Heuer Cac111b Watch Formula 1 Indy 500 Race Watch Luxury Tag Heuer Tag Heuer F1 Alarm Quartz WristwatchTag Heuer Aquaracer Regatta Caliber S Caf7111 Stainless Swiss Quartz Mens WatchMen's S/s Tag Heuer 300m Aquaracer Professional Automatic Diver's Watch Waf 2112Tag Heuer 2000 Classic Men's Fullsize Stainless Steel Watch!Rare Tag Heuer Professional Divers Watch Unidirectional Rotating Bezel NoreserveTag Heuer Men's Dive Watch & Bracelet Early Model In Great Condition 1988Rare Tag Heuer F1 (formula 1) Men's Ss Midsize Watch!Tag Heuer Professional 2-tone Ss High Fashion Men's Quartz Diving Watch W/ DateTag Heuer 1000 Professional 200 Meters Two Tone Wristwatch 980.020b Black/goldTag Heuer Monaco Ww2110 Steel Automatic Men's Watch - Nr !!Tag Heuer Link Diamond Mother Pearl Dial & Bezel 28mm Ladies Steel Watch Wj131aLadies Tag Heuer Alter Ego Watch, Excellent Condition, BoxedTag Heuer Automatic 200 Meters WatchRare Tag Heuer F1 (formula 1) Men's Ss Midsize Watch!1987 Vintage Men's Heuer 2000 Professional Diver's Watch Model 964.006 S/s GoldTag Heuer Mens Aquaracer Watch Tag Heuer Aquaracer Wab1110.ba0800 Wrist Watch For MenTag Heuer Formula 1 Men's WatchClassic Tag Heuer F1 3 Register Chronograph Quartz Mens Date Watch $1Tag Heuer Women's Waf1412.ba0812 Aquaracer Quartz WatchTag Heuer Monaco Cw 2112 Mens Watch "steve Mcqueen" InspiredTag Heuer 2000 Classic Wk113 Blue Dial Stainless Swiss Quartz Mens WatchTag Heuer Men's Formula 1 Black Out Quartz Chronograph Watch Cau1114.ft6024