Baylor isn't a name that many collectors of vintage chronographs would know, and it's certainly not likely to be the first name one would come to in a conversation about Heuer and the range of chronographs they produced throughout the 1960s and 70s for other brands. Referred to as "Poor Man's Heuers," these chronographs shared many of the same parts and all the same looks as the now popular and collectible Heuer counterparts. Yes, it's true: during Heuer's heyday as the premier provider of chronographs for racing drivers under its own name, it manufactured watches for other brands and retailers as well.
Brands like Zodiac, Tradition and Clebar are well known examples of Heuer's manufacturing efforts, but Baylor is one name that has largely escaped attention. Produced for the jeweler Zales (yes, that Zales), Baylor-branded watches used many of the same parts as the Heuer Autavias and Carreras of the late 1960s. It is even rumored that as Heuer began to shift its focus toward automatic chronographs with new cases and dials, Zales was able to snatch up parts for pennies on the dollar.
The result was a small array of watches that looked and felt just like Heuers. While many of these Baylor-branded Heuers were based on more popular models like the Autavia ref. 2446C, the one that we've found takes for its inspiration the humble Heuer Camaro. With a funky, retro vibe, the Heuer Camaro with its dependable manual-wind Valjoux movements exudes '70s style, but the timing of its release--in 1968, just one year before the introduction of the game-changing Caliber 11 Chronomatic movement--saw it overshadowed by its Heuer chronograph brethren.
Which makes it an odd choice for Zales to import it into the U.S. and distribute it under the Baylor brand. And yet, we think its unusual circle-in-the-square case with the trademark sunburst finishing on the top case and sharp bevels is an attractive (and infinitely wearable) design.
Another feature which makes this watch distinctive is the surfboard-shaped splash of blue in the center of the dial - a popular styling often spotted on chronos from the late 1960s and early 1970s - and the dark tachymetre ring that harks to various Heuers models (like THIS, and THIS). All told, this piece has a panache typical of our favorite pieces of the era and offers an incredible value proposition for Heuer fans looking to get their hands on the coveted Camaro expression.
Stainless steel case is approximately 37mm (excluding crowns). Valjoux cal. 7734 movement. Circa 1960s
Overall condition: Stainless steel case is in very strong condition, with signs of only light wear and use, and no signs of over-polishing, retaining the classic sunburst finishing on the front of the case. Distinctive "surfboard" dial is in excellent condition, showing signs of only light patination to the luminescent elements and no major blemishes or discoloration. Signed crown; unsigned case back shows some light scratches but is in otherwise solid condition.
Includes one 20mm shell Horween analog/shift strap in brown and one 20mm nylon strap from Crown & Buckle.