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    

Vintage Tag Heuer No. 7220 Gm Racing Camaro Edition 37mm Chronograph Steel WatchTag Heuer Carrera - Caliber 1887 Men's Watch - MintRare Heuer Carrera Chronograph Caliber 12 Ref 1153 In Great Condition - NrSuper Rare Heuer 1970s Decompressor Diver Automatic Mens Steel Watch Ref.11630Heuer Regatta Mens Chronograph Watch 134.603 Lemania 1345Tag Heuer Carrera Cv2015 Auto Date Chronograph Stainless Steel Men's Watch Tag Heuer Monaco Steve Mcqueen (box And Papers 2006)Mens Formula 1 Tag Heuer Chrono WatchTag Heuer Carrera Chronograph Cal. 1887 Automatic Car2a10.ba0799 Watch For MenHeuer Diver Mens Watch Automatic DateTag Heuer Carrera Chronograph Cv2014 Ba0794 Calibre 16 Wrist Watch For MenRare Swiss Vintage Tag Heuer Formula "1" Luminous Full S.steel Dater Wrist WatchVintage Chronograph Sportex By Leonidas Heuer 2 Register For Parts Or RepairMassive Monaco Tag Heuer Chronograph Cw2113-0 Gt2552 Mens WatchSuper Cool Tag Heuer Monaco ( Steve Mcqueen) Automatic, Blue Dial Cw2113-0 Look!Authentic Tag Heuer 2000 Professional Ss Automatic Men's Sports Diver Watch (216Tag Heuer Monaco Steve Mcquenn Chronograph WristwatchTag Heuer Formula 1 Cah1110.ba0850 41mm Quartz 200m Chrono Sapphire Full SetTag Heuer Monaco Blue Ref Cw2113-0Rare Swiss Vintage Tag Heuer Chronograph Luminous Full S.steel Dater Wrist WatchTag Heuer Aquaracer Mens Black Dial Ss Swiss Watch Waf1110.ba0800Men's Vintage Tag Heuer 1000 Professional Black & Gold Divers Watch 200 MetersAbercrombie & Fitch Heuer Seafarer Chronograph Solunar Watch 1940's 17 JewelsTag Heuer Aquaracer Calibre 5 Automatic Stainless Watch + Box - Wap2011.ba0830High Rare Beautiful Steel Heuer Automatic Wristwatch From 1960's!Vintage Heuer Regazzoni Silverstone Blue Original '70sTag Heuer Model Wak2180 Calibre 5 Automatic 500m Men's Wrist WatchTag Heuer Formula 1 Men's Xl Grande Date Swiss Chronograph Cah1011.ft6026Tag Heuer Formula 1 Professional 200m Mens Ss Mens Watch Wac1110 _ 9 1565Tag Heuer Carrera Mens Automatic Stainless Steel Watch Wv211b-1 Retail $2900Tag Heuer Link Wj2110 200 Meters High Fashion Ss Quartz Men's Watch W/ DateRare 100% Auth Tag Heuer Carrera Calibre 5 Automatic Mens Watch Ex Cond Rrp$3400Vintage Rare Heuer Gay Freres Stainless Steel Buckle Clasp 1968 Good ConditionWatch Tag Heuer Carrera Calibre 16 Automatic Chronograph Black Tag Heuer Women's "aquaracer" Stainless Steel Sport WatchMens Huge Estate Tag Heuer Link Sapphire Crystal Stainless Steel WristwatchTag Heuer Aquaracer Wap1110 Stainless Steel Men's Dive Watch No ReverveMen's Tag Heuer Aquaracer Stainless Steel Automatic Watch, Wan2110Tag Heuer 1500 Mens Watch Blue Dial Wd1214-g-20 Quartz DiverTag Heuer F1 1/10th Chrono 3 Register Ca1212-1 Men's Watch, Boxes, All PaperworkTag Heuer Link Calendar Black Baton Dial 42mm Stainless Steel Wristwatch 2007Tag Heuer Link Women's Watch With 11 Diamonds!Tag Heuer Kirium Men's Watch Wl111g, Very Good Condition And Free ShippingTag Heuer Aquaracer 300 Meters, Stainless, Box, Date, Runs Great, Good ConditionTag Heuer Professional Quartz Steel With Gold Bezel And Crown Mint Tag Heuer Slr For Mercedes Benz Limited Mens WristwatchStunning Women's Tag Heuer Alter Ego With Blue Dial Wp1313Tag Heuer "link" Black Dial Chronometer 200m Midsize Swiss Quartz Men's WatchTag Heuer Men's Wav511a.ba0900 Grand Carrera Automatic Calibre 6 Rs Watch Tag Heuer Cau1115 Formula 1 Quartz Chronograph Stainless Steel WristwatchTag Heuer Aquaracer Black Stainless Steel Quartz Wab1110.vf2135Rare Genuine Dealer Display Tag Heuer No. 55 Monaco Wall Clock In Ltd Black DialVery Nice Man's Tag Heuer Formula 1 Wristwatch With BoxTag Heuer Monza Cr514a.fc8146 18k Yellow Gold ChronographTag Heuer Link Watch Cjf2115-0 Ren7966 Gray Dial Automatic Chrono Calibre 16Mens Swiss Tag Heuer Kirium W1111 Professional 200m Gray Dial Date Watch - O7061Tag Heuer Aquaracer Wab1111Tag Heuer Diver Mens Watch Automatic Date 4000 SeriesTag Heuer Car2014.ba0796 Carrera 43mm Calibre 1887 Automatic Chronograph MintTag Heuer Link Wj1114-0 Diamond M.o.p Dial Stainless Steel Men's Watch