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lhooq

Vintage Gen: 1969 Heuer Carrera Cal.11

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Should I be filing this under 'Vintage'? This is my first time starting a thread in the TAG-Heuer subforum, but it's not because I don't like the brand. In fact, my dream watches ten years ago -before I was even really into watches- were all TAGs. I remember lusting after the Monaco, the Monza, and the Targa Florio--in that order. However, I also remember thinking that spending more than a few hundred bucks on a watch seemed a bit silly. Oh, how things change!

The hunt for this particular watch began almost a year ago. Other than the Monaco and the original Carrera, I wasn't very familiar with the 70s Heuer lineup. One night I was trawling eBay when I found a Carrera similar to this one being sold from Hong Kong. It was love at first sight as everything about the design (silver sunburst, blue/gray subdials and tachy ring, orange hand) struck all the right chords in me. But I'm a naturally cautious sort, so I resisted the strong urge to bid right there and then. As nice as the watch was, I figured it was just a common Carrera and another one would show up really soon. Better do some research first, right?

"WRONG!" to quote Arnold in Commando. These 2nd-gen Carreras are much rarer than I expected, and it was even harder to find one with this particular color scheme. After months of regular searches, one finally showed up on one of the watch forums last December. Unfortunately, someone bought it within a day of the listing's posting, so... dammit. Fast forward six months and the closest I'd found was a white-on-blue dial example. Nice enough, but it wasn't the same. Chrono24 showed one seller in Germany with the exact model I wanted, but at a very European price. Very expensive, but I think I would have gone over the edge after a few more months of looking.

Then this popped up a month ago. It was the exact same watch that I'd missed out on in December, but the seller had decided he wanted to move up to an Anniversary Edition Monaco. Good for him! And even better for me. I've had a portion of my funds earmarked for this watch since last year, so I bought it without hesitation.

This, then, is a 1969 or 1970 Carrera ref. 1153S. It's either a Calibre 11 or a Cal. 11-I, as described in OnTheDash. I could find out for certain, if only I could get this blasted caseback off! Cal. 11 is remarkable for being one of the first three automatic chronograph movements ever made. To this day, there is still debate on whether the crown belongs to the Zenith El Primero, the Heuer/Breitling/Buren/Dubois-Depraz Chronomatic, or to Seiko for its immortal 6139. As with the Submariner vs. Fifty Fathoms debate, I'm inclined to just call it a three-way tie, due to overlapping announcements and production schedules. (I think it's Seiko, but.. Shh!)

This particular example is in very good condition, as it was refurbished by TAG-Heuer Japan last year. (I believe there are still a few months left on its warranty.) Based on what I've read and the prices I've been quoted for parts, that service couldn't have been cheap. Also not cheap is the original Corfam strap on this Carrera. If you think vintage Tropic rubber straps have become extremely expensive in recent months, Corfam straps have been even more ridiculously priced for a much longer time. Not bad for a failed leather substitute by DuPont! The feel of the Corfam strap is much better than I'd been led to believe, though less comfortable than what we expect from straps these days. As for appearance, it's very vinyl-shiny and very 1970s. Sort of like the seats on a Stutz Blackhawk.

If you're not familiar with vintage Heuers, you may be surprised by the absence of a running seconds subdial. The register at 3 counts minutes and the one at 6 counts hours, but if the chronograph isn't running, you'll have to wait a bit to see any action. Another surprise can be found in the hour counter. Rather than slowly sweeping one rotation every 12 hours (like every other chronograph in my collection), the hand jumps in 30 minute increments. Neat, but this feature caused some reliability problems (described in the OnTheDash article linked above), and led to the use of weaker springs in the Cal.11-I.

I only meant to say a few words about this watch, but this is turning into a full-blown article! Better wrap things up...

IN CONCLUSION, I finally found the watch that I'd been searching for since August 2010, and I'm pretty damn happy about it. Also, if you see something you like, go for it! Let that lesson apply to watches as it does in life. Onto the pictures!

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Thanks to alligoat for helping me out yet again.

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This is absolutely stunning! Congrats LH00Q.....what a catch.

This might be of interest to you LH. It's a thread I started last year.

Click the first link. It takes a little patience but if you persevere there are some beautiful vintage Tags in there. Well worth a visit in my opinion.

http://www.replica-watch.info/vb/sho...9.html?t=61219

 

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Thanks, guys, and thanks for that link! It's funny how we use "vintage TAGs" as shorthand when TAG-Heuer didn't even exist until '85! The buildup of that brand from zero to "Ayrton Senna's wearing a TAG and so is everyone I know, why haven't I got one?" in under a decade is an amazing feat of marketing.

I'm a bit shocked by some of the prices at that auction, though. GBP 30,000 for a Siffert Autavia is ridiculous, regardless of condition. That's a USD 10K watch, at best, and maybe if it was owned by Seppi himself!

So here's where I slowly take my Carrera off, and put it into a padded safe...

 

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Thanks, all! I'm wearing it right now, and loving it.

Those evildoers on Repgeek forced me to do a group shot a few weeks ago, but it's something I never wanted to do. I find that seeing all my watches in one frame is more alarming than satisfying, and I end up questioning my (admittedly questionable) priorities.

Better to scatter them in various boxes and drawers!

 

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Other than a few special models (e.g. the Siffert Autavia, any Monaco), 70s Heuers will go for about USD 2000 +/- 500. I paid USD 2180 for this Carrera, not including shipping. Pretty good, all things considered.

There's an almost identical watch in Germany going for USD 3115.

Here's a similar, but later version selling in Germany for USD 2620.

 

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Update! Lately, I've been getting nervous about wearing the Corfam strap on a regular basis. Not only is that pleather strap more expensive than many high-end reps, but it's also starting to show a few signs of wear. The material itself has been holding up pretty well, but the back is showing signs of delamination. Not only that, but the black dye is wearing off on the edges of the keeper, leaving the Corfam looking a grayish beige. Is there a way of restoring this strap without using dangerous chemicals from DuPont?

Anyway, here's my nouveau-retro solution: A TAG-Heuer "Heuer" deployant (as seen on the Monaco and Silverstone re-editions) and a generic perforated strap:

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Maybe the big, honkin' HEUER is a little bit gaudy, but I do need a little bit of flash to compensate for the loss of the "wet-look" pleather! It's also hard to beat the convenience of a single-fold deployant. Looks like the Corfam is staying in the vault for a spell...

 

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I now what you mean. The 6000 18k/SS, CH5112 was my favorite for quite awhile. Very comfortable but just not quite big enough. And that's when I noticed the BA0550 Bracelet. That "V" link did it for me. I prefer a "sports/diver" style watch and honed in on the CT5111. But the Chronographs wear a bit too "thick" for me. Took it down a step and the 5110 did it for me.That bracelet with the 42mm case is by far the most comfortable watch to wear I've ever owned. I gave the WT5113 Silver dialed version a try but the hands seemed to blend with the dial color too closely and made them harder to see. Shame on you sir for starting this thread. Yours is growing on me faster than my wife will be happy about. I've never had a taste for the "colorful" watches and the orange usually turned me away quickly......until now. That's truly a beautiful timepiece and I'm sure you're very proud to own it. Thanks for sharing...although my wife won't agree.

 

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Color-wise, the early 70s Heuers were pretty subdued compared to what followed in the disco era. Think shiny brown dials with orange hands all around!

Good luck getting your wife on board. Vintage Heuer is a bargain compared to vintage Rolex, but it's similarly addictive.

 

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You're right, of course. I love the looks of the 1655 Exp.II as well as the Tudor 7032. Just enough orange to sorta stand out but subtle at the same time. And the nice thing about Tag Heuer is that most of the models I like are affordable enough to stay gen with. The vintage Rollies are quite pricey, gen or Franken. As for the Mrs., well, it's doubtful she'll ever unserstand why a man needs more than one watch. Or one that can't be bought at WalMart. Happy Thanksgiving.

+1

 

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