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.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)



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    

Baylor Gmt Heuer Valjoux Vx724 Chronograph Watch! Hk Stamp Rare?Vintage Chronograph Heuer Camaro Dato Valjoux 7734 Caliber Just Serviced 1960's!Vintage Gents Heuer Autavia Automatic Chronograph Cal 12 11630 Wristwatch Tag Heuer 2000 Chronograph Automatic 200m 173.306 Vintage RareHeuer AutaviaTag Heuer Wak211a Black Blue "batman" Ceramic 41mm Aquaracer 500m Calibre 7 GmtTag Heuer Carrera Caliber 1887 Ref. Car2110 Automatic Stainless Steel WatchTag Heuer Carrera Calibre 16 Chronograph/chronometer Tag Heuer 2000 Chronograph Automatic 200m 165.306 Vintage RareTag Heuer Formula 1 Quartz Chronograph Men's Watch Cau111e.ft6024 42 MmVintage Heuer Triple Calendar Date-compax Stainless Steel Valjoux 72c Men WatchTag Heuer Slr For Merceded Benz Limited EditionHeuer Autavia Orange Boy Chronograph Dial, Valjoux 7734 ,nos ,70's!!!Tag Heuer Men Aquaracer Watch 300 Meter Silver Diving Sport W/strap Waf1112Tag Heuer Carrera Calibre 16 Chrono Cv2050-0 18k Yelow Gold & Steel WristwatchBrown Tag Heuer Carrera Calibre 5 Automatic Wv221n Stainless Steel Wrist WatchVintage Heuer Two Register Chronograph Watch 405810 Stainless Steel 61660Tag Heuer Aquaracer Caf101e Watch Box & Papers 1yr WarrantyTag Heuer Wjf5112.ba0570 Link Automatic Chronometer Mens Watch Brown Dial 39mmMen's Tag Heuer Stainless Steel Professional 200m Water Resist Watch We1111-2Tag Heuer 2000 Aquaracer Men's Fullsize Ss Watch In Its Box/papers! Tag Heuer Grand Carrer Black DialTag Heuer Chrono Diver Professional 200m 2 Tone Date Mens Bracelet WatchTag Heuer 2000 Men's Fullsize Stainless Steel Professional Watch! Tag Heuer 1000 Professional All Steel Quartz Mens Watch 980.013bTag Heuer Grand Carrera Calibre 17 Cav511a WristwatchRare Heuer 1970s Monaco 1133 Chronograph Mens Cal.11/12 Wristwatch Dial OriginalMens Tag Heuer Carrera Calibre 16 Automatic Chronograph Cv2014 41mm Tag Heuer Sel 18k Gold & Ss Women's Watch In Its Box/papers! Tag Heuer Carrera Cv2014-1 Automatic Chronograph 41mm Mens Watch W/boxTag Heuer F1 Formula 1 Chrono Orange FaceLadies Tag Heuer Proffesional 200 Meters WatchVintage Heuer Monaco Ref.1533 Calibre 15. No ReserveTag Heuer 2000 Automatic Modular Chronograph Eta 2892-2 For Parts/repair N/r!Tag Heuer Link Wj1112.ba0570 Wrist Watch For MenAutavia Heuer Gmt 11630 741.603Tag Heuer ProfessionalLot Of Heuer Bracelet Parts From 60's 70's Tag Heuer Ladies Quartz Watch W/diamonds Wjf1319.ba0572Tag Heuer Link Automatic Stainless Steel Watch Wjf2110 MensHeuer Easy Rider Jacky Icks In Steel - Rare - 70's !!! Original Plastic BraceletTag Heuer 2000 Automatic Chronograph Ck2111 Genuine Tag Heuer 6000 Women's Ss Watch In Its Box/papers!Tag Heuer 1000 Luminous Dial Watch, Now Very RareRare Tag Heuer Calibre 16 - Automatic Chrono - Cv2016 - All Steel CaseTag Heuer Chronograph Mens Watch Quartz Date 2tone Bracelet Cg1125 GmtGents S/s Vintage Tag Heuer Professional 1000 Quartz Black Band Wrist Watch NrHeuer DaytonaTag Heuer Carrera Calibre 1887 Automatic Chronograph Car2111.ba0720 Tag Heuer Carrera (cv201ab) - "juan Manuel Fangio", Slate/red Chronograph Watch!Tag Heuer Jason Bourne Black Chronograph Professional Watch Mens Ct1111 Au1401Tag Heuer Link Wt1214.ba0554 Mens WatchTag Heuer Professional Stainless Steel Ladies Watch Stainless Steel Heuer Bracelet From 60's Mint!!!Tag Heuer 4000 Quartz Stainless Steel 200m Dive Watch Wf1112-0, With BoxTag Heuer Monaco Leather Band Black Dial Automatic Watch Ww2110 D175Mint Mens Tag Heuer Carrera Calibre S Laptimer Retrograde Chronograph Cv7a10 Tag Heuer 2000 We1111-2 Men's WristwatchHeuer Autavia 11630t 15630t 11063t Bezel Insert Jo SiffertAuthentic Tag Heuer Carrera Cv2010 Chronograph Automatic Mens Wrist Watch