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When comparing Heuer's chronograph offerings, the Camaro is a definite outlier. But despite its distinctive looks, the Camaro held only a short production run, making it much scarcer than its Heuer stablemates, the Carrera, the Autavia, and the Monaco. And while they've been cropping up in recent years on the collector circuit (especially on our site), there are certain iterations that are far less commonly seen--this one, the Reference 73443T, being one of them.
On first consideration, there's little about the Heuer Camaro not to like, and the fact that it languished in obscurity for so many years poses a conundrum to those collectors who love it; however, it hit the market at a strange transitional period, both in Heuer internally and in the watch world at large, making it something of a footnote among Heuer's triumphs throughout the 1960s and 70s.
At the time Heuer launched the Camaro, the company was trying make inroads in the U.S. market. Hence the name, Camaro, which was a direct homage to the muscle car that Chevrolet released in 1966, two years before Heuer would release its chrono. With Heuer's connection to Formula 1 being so deeply engrained (with drivers like Jochen Rindt and Jo Siffert preferring the Autavia), the alignment between the Swiss watch manufacture and an American car company could seem incongruous.
Yet from 1967 to 1969, the Chevrolet Camaro was the official pace car of the Indy 500, the most famous racing event in the United States, so Jack Heuer felt justified in choosing that name for his new chronograph.
However, by the time the watch was released in 1968, Heuer had turned it's focus to producing an automatic chronograph movement, the Caliber 11, the debut of which would overshadow manual chronographs and turn the watch world on its head. When faced with the technological advantage of an automatic chronograph movement, sales of the Camaro languished, despite the connection with motorsports. The Autavia, the Carrera, and the Monaco all got the new automatic movement, but the Camaro did not (owing to its smaller case size), and Heuer ceased production of the Camaro in 1972.
Visually, at least, the Camaro has the same DNA as the Carrera and the Monaco. Certainly, the Carrera and the Camaro have similar dials and hands, and there is no denying that the Camaro's case has much in common with the Monaco, perhaps the most distinctive square-case chronograph around.
But the Camaro has design quirks that make it a watch all its own. Take the variety of finishing on the case--a gorgeous sunburst pattern on the front that softens the look of sharp polished sides and straight lugs. And while the Monaco feels almost ungainly on the wrist, the hand-cranked movements used in the Camaro (a Valjoux 7734 in this instance), allowed for a smaller, svelter case that wears exceptionally well, even by modern standards.
This Reference, the 73443T, features an absolutely stunning "exotic" configuration--a black-on-white panda with bright orange sweep hand. The addition of an outer tachymeter track and a date window at 6:00 gives the symmetrical dial a sporty touch that harks to the form-follows-function chronographs of the Golden era of Motorsports. With a very honest case and a vibrant dial, this particular piece is an excellent example of an uncommon reference, enough to whet the appetite of any lover of obscure Heuer chronograph designs.
Stainless steel case is approximately 37mm (excluding crown and pushers). Heuer Camaro Refernce 73443T. Valjoux Caliber 7734 Manually-Wound Chronograph Movement. Circa early 1970s.
Overall Condition: Stainless steel case is in very good condition with no signs of over-polishing. Case shows some signs of wear in keeping with its age. Dial is in very good condition with some signs of age throughout, but no obvious signs of discoloration or hand drag. Heuer crown. Case back has some faint scratches and tool marks but is in otherwise very good condition.
Includes one 19mm leather rally style strap and two 19mm nylon straps from Crown & Buckle