Heuer Seafarer
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Heuer Seafarer

In life, there are no constants but time and the tides. Minutes roll into hours, which turn into days, all governed by the rising and setting of the Sun. The tides come in and go out, bound inexorably to the pull of the Moon.

No one feels the relationship between time and tide more than fishermen. While publications like the Farmers’ Almanac have long attempted to give fishermen insight into the best time to fish, the results have been mixed. And watch companies, eager to dive into the post-war sporting boom of the late 1940s and early 1950s, sought to develop a watch that would be the definitive sportsman’s tool.

Such is the case of this watch, the Seafarer, and its time-only ancestor, the Solunar. 

They did that at the behest of noted outfitter, Abercrombie & Fitch. Though the name might now conjure images of bare abs and cloying cologne, back then the company’s midtown Manhattan store was a sportsman’s Mecca. The company had enough pull with manufacturers to request specially-made products for their customers.

So when enough A&F customers inquired about whether the outfitter might sell a watch that showed the tides, the President of Abercrombie & Fitch turned to Charles-Eduoard Heuer.

The watch that resulted from that inquiry, the Solunar, was “the only watch in the world that tells both SOLAR (sun) time, and LUNAR (moon) time”—or so an ad ran upon its release in 1949. Since it was the first—and only—watch that met these needs (at the time), it was a success. But the success was short-lived, as the watch only saw a limited run of 1000 pieces before being discontinued.

However, the spirit of the Solunar would live on this watch, the Seafarer. The tidal dial of the Solunar would be married, in true Heuer fashion, with that most versatile of complications: a chronograph. The Seafarer had the hour and minute counters of a standard chrono, but instead of running seconds, the tidal indicator would be nestled comfortably in the register at 9 o’clock.

Using tidal tables, a fisherman would set the time (or, in Heuer parlance, “Solar Time”). Then he would set the “Lunar Dial” according to the tide tables using the pusher on the left side of the case until the tide markers aligned with the proper time. At midnight, the tide dial would advance.

The Seafarer came in several executions, sharing cases with other chronographs from Heuer’s catalog. It was produced from the 1950s to the 1970s, making surviving examples rarely-had. We’ve counted ourselves lucky to find three in all our years in business—including one that was retailed by Abercrombie & Fitch competitor, Orvis.

This particular Seafarer is an early example, sharing a case with the Reference 2444 chronograph. Like the Solunar, the tidal indicators are a sea foam green and yellow, a feature which would be changed in the later years of this execution’s run. It boasts a crisp 35.5mm case and a vibrantly-colored dial that’s just beginning to show patina, and is powered by the Valjoux Calibre 721, a modification of the well-beloved Valjoux 72.

Seafarers, like the Flying Dutchman, emerge so rarely on the collector circuit, and are many collectors’ white whales—catch this one before it sinks back into the deep.

Details

SKU: AS02399

Stainless steel case is approximately 35.5mm (excluding crown). Reference 2444. 1940s.

Overall Condition: Case is in very good condition overall with sharp lugs and signs of moderate use and wear. Dial is in very good condition with some signs of age, including patina. Unsigned crown.

Includes one 18mm green leather strap.

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