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Though Heuer is regarded as the undisputed king of the racing grid, with their chronographs being worn by some of the greatest names in Formula One, their history is a long and rich one.
And in from its earliest years, it was marked by the production of chronographs.
Heuer was founded in St. Imier in 1860. Twenty years later, they were making chronograph pocket watches. By the First World War, when watches migrated to the wrist, Heuer released its first wrist chronograph.
The manufacture had found its niche, one it’s filled ever since.
The growing popularity of race car driving in the 1920s and 1930s did prove to be a boon for Heuer. Also, in the 1930s, Heuer took advantage of advances in aviation and released pilot’s chronographs, or fliegers. These chronographs were marked by their purpose, and had stark black dials with large Arabic numerals; the only subtle signs of elegance were the coin edge of the bezels.
Despite the worldwide depression that engulfed the world’s economies, Heuer prospered, and debuted a collection at Basel in 1934.
The 1930s were also integral to the development of Heuer’s chronographs. In this decade, the manufacture released its first waterproof chronograph. These cases are notable for their round pushers, which allowed for the insertion of a rubber seal to keep water out.
Switzerland’s neutrality during World War II ensured that Heuer could survive—if not thrive—in the constricted conditions wrought on their native country by Nazi blockades. Indeed, during this period Heuer even managed to fill some orders from Sweden, another neutral country.
The years following the war were a pivotal period in chronograph design for Heuer. Many chronographs produced during this time retained the clean lines of the watches worn by military personnel during the Second World War. Though their cases are notably smaller than their 1960s successors, like the Carrera and Autavia, they’re steel and waterproof.
It’s also during this decade that Heuer laid the groundwork for the watches that were to come—most notably, the Carrera. The Reference 2447 was launched in the 1940s, with the round pushers and prominent Heuer shield that collectors of 1960s would recognize. These watches proved popular with consumers, and President Harry S. Truman purchased one in 1945.
This beautiful steel chronograph epitomizes Heuer’s mid-century design prowess. The blue and red outer tachymetre and telemeter tracks are an exercise in concentricity, the twin chronograph registers a practice in balance. The Arabic numerals are large and legible, giving the watch a sporty, classic look.
In our opinion, chronographs from the 1940s and 1950s are some of the most desirable and beautiful timepieces in the horological world. Whether by a horological heavy-hitter like Heuer or a humbler brand, these watches represent the pinnacle of horological achievement before the dawn of the Quartz Age. This watch is no exception.
Stainless steel case is approximately 35mm (excluding crown and pushers). Valjoux Manually-Wound Chronograph Movement. Circa 1950s.
Overall Condition: Stainless steel case is in very good condition with sharp lugs and slight signs of use and wear, including some faint scratches on the sides of the case and on the lugs. Dial is in excellent condition with crisp printing. Unsigned crown. Case back has slight signs of use and wear. Bridge of the movement has been replaced by Abel Court.
Includes one 18mm unsigned stainless steel straight end link BOR bracelet.