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Though it may seem incongruous to wax poetic over a military watch, when speaking of the Heuer Bundeswehr, we here at Analog/Shift feel it’s completely justified.
At face value the Bund ticks all the boxes required of a military chronograph: sturdy steel case, stark black dial, reliable movement. But aesthetically, the Bund transcends mere functionality. In fact, it looks almost elegant despite its size: the juxtaposition of the chronograph registers, the 3H markings, and the Heuer logo at the poles of the dial give it an austere beauty.
First and foremost, however, the Heuer Bundeswehr was designed for the sole purpose of use in military aviation. It was General Issue for pilots in the air forces of many nations (including the Italian Air Force, under the brand Leonidas, which Heuer acquired in the 60s) but is best-known for its use by the Luftwaffe of West Germany. From the 1960s to the 1970s, the "Bund" (as it's affectionately known) saw a range of dial configurations that baffle those not in the know; fortunately, the Heuer experts over at On The Dash have complied a comprehensive overview of these variations, which we'll summarize here.
There's one tell-tale sign that a Bund might have seen military service (or, to put less fine of a point on it, is from the period in which the Bund was issued to the Luftwaffe). It's one little symbol, in bright red above 6 o'clock on the dial: the letters "3H" surrounded by a circle. This indicates that the luminescent material on the numerals is tritium (Hydrogen-3). As one can tell from OnTheDash's breakdown, the 3H symbol came in four different variations, with the characters in varying sizes. However, no matter the size of the 3H symbol, it meant one thing: the watch can be dated (most likely) to the 1960s to 1970s.
The Bund that we offer here, with the requisite 3H symbol, is classic Bund--in short, everything you want a pilot's watch to be. The dual sub-register layout of the dial is highly legible, in the way that the most iconic pilot's watches are: the chronograph registers are symmetrically-arranged on a horizontal axis, offset by the Heuer logo at 12 o'clock and the 3H symbol at 6. The numerals are big and bold, encircled by a 60-minute chapter ring.
And the matte case is, as you'd expect, substantial. At roughly 43mm it dominates the wrist, though not uncomfortable so (in fact, it feels surprisingly light on the wrist, particularly on a nylon strap). Like the Heuer Autavias of the period, the case is crowned by a rotating 60-minute bezel.
As with many military watches, the Bund is a front-loader, with the movement being secured by the screw-mounted case back that is attached to the bezel. The Bund, being a manually-wound flyback chrono, used a host of Valjoux movements, from the Valjoux 22 to the cal. 220 to the cal. 230. Sturdy, dependable, it's the sort of watch you want strapped to your wrist whether you're dodging enemy fighters at 35,000 feet or engaged in more terrestrial pursuits.
Available exclusively at Marshall Pierce.
Stainless steel case is approximately 43mm (excluding crown and pushers). Heuer Reference 1550SG. Valjoux Caliber Manually-Wound Flyback Chronograph Movement. Circa 1960s or 1970s.
Overall Condition: Stainless steel corrosion-resistant monocoque case is in very good condition with sharp lugs and minimal signs of use and wear. Rotating bezel is likewise in very good condition with crisp printing. Black matte dial is in excellent condition with crisp printing and fine even patina to the luminescent elements of the hour markers and hands. Unsigned crown. Case back has requisite military markings and minimal signs of use and wear.
Includes two 20mm nylon straps from Crown & Buckle