Zodiac "Poor Man's Carrera" Chronograph

Zodiac "Poor Man's Carrera" Chronograph

Why We Love It

Here is a question for you, What looks like a Carrera, wears like a Carrera, and keeps time like a Carrera but is not a Carrera?

If you said Zodiac Carrera, you got it right - these are wildly cool chronographs that also often go by the unfortunate nickname of "Poor Man’s Heuers".

It’s hard to say “Poor Man’s” Anything when the piece in question brings such  quality and history to the table. With a brilliant silver sunburst dial and rich grey (almost blue) subsidiary chronograph registers and matching outer tachymeter ring, this piece has all the design hallmarks of its Heuer Reference 1153 Carrera siblings.

This particular example is in almost mint condition with factory brushing to the cushion case and a nearly flawless dial with perfectly aged Tritium plots and hands. It features the correct fluted pushers, unsigned crown, flourescing chronograph seconds hand, and even the original JB Champion bracelet with Zodiac signed clasp.

Under the hood, this beautiful piece is powered by a Heuer Calibre 12 chronograph movement. Nearly indistinguishable to its Carrera cousins save that name on the dial, this wonderful Zodiac is a great way to get into a vintage chronograph with Heuer looks and quality without spending a fortune for it.

The Story

In 1882 a watchmaker named Ariste Calame opened a workshop in Le Locle. He enlisted the help of his son, Louis Ariste, who took over the business in 1895. By 1905 the company was known as Zodiac.

Zodiac distinguished itself from its earliest days with some impressive technical feats. They produced flat pocket watches in the 1920s, some of the industry's earliest automatic watches in the 1930s, and power-reserve complications in the 1940s. As Calame’s intention when setting up his shop was to specialize in the production of complicated movements, it’s no surprise that the lineage of technical expertise would live on throughout the brand’s history, until it was bought by Fossil in the 1990s.

Zodiac is perhaps best-known in today's vintage market for their chronographs. Often referred to as ”Poor Man's Heuers,” they have picked up quite a bit of traction in recent years, as collectors realize the value of these stunning and sporty watches. However, they’re perhaps undeserving of the moniker, because their solid cases and dependable movements are the same as those used by Heuer.

For many collectors, the name that is printed on the dial is where they begin assessing the value of a watch. But at Analog/shift, we believe that it is what is under the hood that counts. Sure, the value of a brand name can be important, but the buck shouldn't stop there.

Throughout the 60's and 70's, Heuer, the brand chosen by famous racers like Jo Siffert and Steve McQueen, was batch producing watches for a number of other brand. This practice gave rise to a whole subset of Heuer-built timepieces - assembled from the same parts bins as the Carreras and Autavias - that were sold under a variety of other brand names. These watches have lovingly become known as "Poor Man's" Heuers because they were often much less expensive to buy than their Heuer-signed counterparts.

What's incredible about these Poor Man's Heuers were that they utilized some of the very same components that Heuer was using on their own timepieces. This made them every bit as mechanically robust as they were gorgeous.

All they lack is the prestige—and the price tag.


SKU: AS02831

Stainless steel case is approximately 38mm (excluding crown). Heuer Calibre 12 Automatic Chronograph Movement. Circa 1970s.

Overall Condition: Stainless steel case is in excellent condition with no signs of over-polishing and only minimal signs of use and wear. Dial is in fantastic condition with beautiful puffy lume plots and matching hands. Unsigned crown. Unsigned case back.

Includes one grey leather strap and Zodiac signed period bracelet by JB Champion with steel and PVD links.

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Analog/Shift stands behind the authenticity of our products in perpetuity.


We back each Analog/Shift vintage timepiece with a one-year mechanical warranty from the date of purchase.


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