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The Heuer Carrera is the ultimate 1960s watch. The legend of its origin has been repeated so often: at the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1962, the brand’s CEO heard a tale of a race that so haunted him that he registered it as a trademark as soon as he returned to Switzerland. The story is so evocative of the time and place that it’s almost as though the Carrera sprang fully-formed—Athena-like—from the mind of its creator.
And yet its creation was gradual, its appearance the sum of individual parts that appeared on various chronographs produced throughout Heuer’s century of history.
Heuer had produced chronographs in pocket-watch form since the 1880s. When watches moved to the wrist, Heuer welded bars between the lugs and sewed on leather straps, creating the manufacture’s first wrist chronograph. Though this early wrist chronograph used a pocket watch movement, it laid the groundwork for further chronographs to come—like the Carrera—with its bold Arabic numerals and evenly-spaced twin chronograph registers.
The Carrera was foreshadowed even in the 1940s and 1950s. A glance at Heuer catalogs yields a glimpse of the Carrera’s famous lugs, first seen on a triple calendar circa 1945, and again on a Seafarer produced for Abercrombie & Fitch in the 1950s. Even the reference number of the first Carrera, 2447, was first used on a three-register chronograph that was first offered in 1946.
That Reference 2447 featured the round pushers and prominent Heuer shield on the dial that collectors of 1960s Carreras would easily recognize. Again, that’s an innovation that Heuer rolled out decades before this Carrera was introduced. In the late 1930s, Heuer released its first waterproof chronograph—a game-changer for the brand, and a feature that its chronographs would carry to this day.
But in creating the Carrera, Jack Heuer saw it as his one shot to create a lasting legacy, so he took all these elements from previous chronograph and fused them into one cohesive and eminently-attractive whole.
The sharply-beveled angles of the lugs were achieved by diamond-polishing the case (which was made by esteemed case-maker Piquerez), while the tachymeter was put on a tension ring on the outer rim of the dial to hold the crystal in place. This was an innovation Jack Heuer had learned of the previous year and jumped at the chance to include it in his chronograph. What resulted was a dial design that was simpler to read than the Rolex Daytona (released the same year as the Carrera)—a chronograph that gave only the most necessary bits of information, with plain baton markers: clean, uncluttered, undeniably attractive.
This silver-dialed Carrera we offer here is an early example of a Reference 3647S, also called the Carrera 45, for the 45 minute register at 3 o'clock. The Reference 3647S is powered by the Valjoux 92, a derivative of the triple register Valjoux 72 without an hour register.
The clean lines of the dial are echoed in the sharp bevels of the lugs and the result is quite simply iconic; Heuer's answer to mid-century trends that translates well to modern tastes.
Stainless steel case is approximately 35mm (excluding crown). Heuer Reference 3647S. Valjoux 92 Manually-Wound Chronograph Movement. Circa 1960s.
Overall Condition: Case is in excellent overall condition with razor sharp lugs, showing only minor signs of use and wear in keeping with its age. Dial is in very good condition with fine even patina to the luminescent elements of the hour markers and hands. Unsigned crown. Case back has some signs of wear but is in otherwise very good condition.
Includes one 19mm light brown textured leather strap with white contrast stitching.