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”)

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    

1960s Vintage Heuer Carrera Ref 2447 Nst. Valjoux 72. Black Dial/white Subs. Nr50's Heuer Clamshell Waterproof Chronograph Working Shape Pat. 189190 36mm Vintage Rare Heuer Autavia 11630 Cal 12 ExcellentTag Heuer Aquaracer Calibre 5 Automatic Mens Watch Spares Repairs Box & PapersRare Heuer Autavia Gmt 3 Register Chronograph Stainless Running Men's WristwatchTag Heuer Carrera Chronograph Re-edition Ref. Cs3113 Mens WatchTag Heuer Mens Full Size Automatic Watch Aquaracer Wap 2011 100 Percent GenuineVintage Leonidas (heuer) Chronograph Big Date Manual Winding WatchTag Heuer Wak2110 Black Ceramic Bezel 41mm Aquaracer 500m Calibre 5 AutomaticTag Heuer Monaco Watch Cw2113.fc6183 - The Steve Mcqueen OneRare Vintage Tag Heuer Automatic Chronograph Watch With Lwo-283 MovementPre-owned Men's Tag Heuer Carrera Chronograph Automatic Watch Cv2113-0 N/r. Tag Heuer Monaco Re-edition Automatic Chronograph WatchTag Heuer Carrera Cv2050.bd0789 Chronograph Automatic 18k Solid Gold Gents WatchTag Heuer Link Chronograph Chronometer Ct5110 Full SizeRare Vintage Heuer Autavia 11630 Cal 12 Working Excellent Tag Heuer Professional 2000 Watch Graphite Dial, Box, Guarantee Card 962.213b-1Heuer Vintage Wristwatch, 1950-60s ChronographTag Heuer 4000 Automatic Mens Watch Wf2110-kTag Heuer Classic Automatic 2000 Mens Model Wk2118. No Reserve PriceTag Heuer Automatic Chronograph, Ref. Cg 2111-ro Sel Link, All Stainless Steel!.Heuer Leonidas Chronograph Cal.349(landeron) Stainless SteelTag Heuer 41mm Formula One (diamond Dial) Ceramic Lds Watch Ref.cah1211.ba0863 Tag Heuer Formula 1 Cac1110.vs2713 Wrist Watch For MenTag Heuer Men's Man 2000 Sport Diving Watch 200 Meter Black W/ Strap Wk1110Men`s Size Tag Heuer 4000 Quartz Stainless Case Grey Dial And S/s BezelHeuer Calculator Chronograph Case,bezel And Dial, Rare,nos ,70's!!!Tag Heuer Men's Man Kirium Ti5 Diving Watch 200 M Carbon Fiber W/strap Wl1180Ladies Tag Heuer Sel Serviced Boxed Wg1322Vintage Heuer Daytona Chronograph Stainless Steel 110.203b Blue WristwatchPre-owned Tag Heuer Ref Cap2110 Aquaracer Automatic Chronograph Rubber-s/s WatchTag Heuer Aquaracer Wab1120.bb0802 Wrist Watch For Men Two-tone BandTag Heuer Men's Man Kirium Sport Diving Watch 200 Meter Silver W/strap Wl111eTag Heuer Formula 1 Watch - LargeLadies Tag Heuer 2000 Series Wk1312-0 Stainless Steel Watch Wk1312Tag Heuer Formula 1Mens Tag Heuer Aquaracer Chronograph Stainless Steel AutomaticTag Heuer 2000 Professional Gold Ss Authentic Men's Diver Automatic WatchTag Heuer Stainless Steel Formula One Wac1111-1 Mens Wrist WatchRare Vintage Mechanical Tag Heuer - Swiss MadeVintage Tag Heuer Formula 1 Men's Midsize Watch Blue/red Model Wa1210 RareTag Heuer Link Wjf1354 Ss/18k Gold .63ct Vs1/f Diamond/mop Dial Ladies WatchHeuer Made Lejour Chronograph Valjoux 7750 Automatic Mens Vintage Watch C.1980Authentic Pre Owned Tag Heuer Diver Watch No ReserveTag Heuer Formula 1 Calibre 6 Waz2112.wrf0903 Automatic Men's Watch 41mmTag Heuer Monaco Double Register Chronograph Vintage 40mm Watch.Tag Heuer AquaracerTag Heuer Carrera Automatic Maroon Rare Chronograph Tachymeter Watch Cv2013Tag Heuer Carrera Heritage Men's Watch Was2114Tag Heuer Lady's 2000 Diving Exclusive Watch 200 Meter Professional Black Wn1310Tag Heuer Link Auto Chronograph Watch Tag Heuer Formula 1 Chronograph & Swiss Army Swiss Military Mens WatchesMens Tag Heuer Link Sel 2-tone Gold & Ss Watch - Model Wg1220-k0 (100% Genuine)Tag Heuer Specialist Pilot ChronographTag Heuer F1 Cronograph Quartz Watch.ca1210/1.Tag Heuer Wk 1113 Men's WatchPre-owned Tag Heuer 972.008 Grey Dial Stainless Quartz Ladies Watch Nice Cond NrTag Heuer Grand Carrera Calibre 17 Rs2 Cav518b Chronograph Titanium Watch Tag Heuer Men's Wah1011.bt0717 Formula 1 Grande Watch - 9.5"Tag Heuer Link Wt131f Mop/diamond Dial Stainless Steel Ladies Wrist Watch In Box