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The world of horology, with its deep connections, can be likened to a vast, impenetrable forest, entwined at the branches and at the roots. Brands that, from the names at least, don't seem to be connected, often are, through acquisition or familial connections. Take Zenith and Movado, for example, or Tudor and Rolex, or Wittnauer and Longines.
Heuer is a brand that we're all familiar with--particularly its sports chronographs like the Camaro or the Carrera. But the brand's history goes back longer than that, to the late-19th century, when Eduard Heuer patented his first chronograph. As is the case with Rolex, whose 1960s chronographs have attained an almost cult-like reputation (and stratospheric prices at auction), their chronographs from the 1940s and 1950s have attracted the attention of collectors.
However, even these early examples are sometimes going for upwards of $20,000 for Heuer (let's not even get into Rolex).
So collectors are starting to get creative, going for less familiar names that are still connected to the ones we know and love. At the time Heuer was producing the Carrera, the company merged with an old, respectable house that itself was purchased by a well-known name in horology. That house is none other than Leonidas.
Leonidas was founded in 1841 in St. Imier, Switzerland, and was purchased by Constant Jeanneret-Droz in 1914. Constant Jeanneret-Droz, in turn, was the son of Jules Frédéric Jeanneret, founder of renowned chronograph èbauche maker Excelsior Park. With an already-strong background in producing chronographs, Leonidas continued to produce chronographs and complicated wristwatches throughout the 20th century, supplying watches to the militaries of the Central and Axis powers during the two World Wars.
This particular chronograph dates from roughly the 1950s, shortly before the merger with Heuer. With its over-sized dial and telephone register at 3 o'clock, it has much in common with this example from Zenith. However, while the Zenith is pink gold, the case of this Leonidas is steel and relatively thick, with sharp lugs.
But touches like the pink gold hour markers and handset give it a decidedly softer look, at home on a fine leather strap, making it a clear choice for a suit watch.
Stainless steel case is approximately 41mm (excluding crown and pushers). Valjoux Caliber 22 Manually-Wound Chronograph Movement. Circa 1950s.
Overall Condition: Stainless steel case is in good condition with sharp lugs and some signs of use and wear. Dial is in good condition with some signs of use and age, particularly in the center of the dial. Unsigned crown. Case back has some signs of polishing but is in otherwise good condition.
Includes one 18mm taupe leather strap and two 18mm nylon straps from Crown & Buckle