Wristwatch restoration, servicing and repair

Posts Tagged ‘Heuer’

Heuer Temporada (Valjoux Cal. 7733)…

Still in the possession of the original owner who bought the watch in the early 1970’s, it’s safe to say that this Heuer Temporada had seen some action.

(Click pictures to enlarge)

First introduced in 1972, the Temporada (meaning ‘Season’ in Spanish) was a departure from the rest of the chronograph range as it was the only Heuer branded model to be housed a one-piece fibreglass case.

One advantage of using a fibreglass case is the watch is incredibly light, you hardly know it’s on your wrist – some people like that, while others prefer to feel the reassurance of a solid steel case – Camy Airport anyone?

Whether the fibreglass case was something of an experiment for Heuer, or it just proved unpopular I can’t say, but the model was discontinued in 1975 after a production run of just 3 years.

Here is a early catalogue shot showing the Temporada which also states that a second model was available with a gold plated bezel and a champagne dial. The watch was also available with red rather than grey subdials.

Source: OnTheDash (www.onthedash.com)

Like all one-piece case designs, to gain access to the movement, the outer bezel has to be removed, the split stem separated, and the glass removed before the watch can be lifted out of the case.

With the watch disassembled, the obvious thing would have been to replace the tired bezel, but despite exploring various avenues, I didn’t manage to track one down. For a watch that was produced for only 3 years, and 40 years ago, that wasn’t really a surprise, so the only option was to send the bezel off for re-plating. More on that later.

Once out of the case, the dial was still in decent condition, but the hands had seen better days. The paint on the chronograph hands had deteriorated and flaked off at the slightest touch, and the tips of the main hands had faded and would need repainting.

Things looked better for the movement, a Heuer branded Valjoux cal. 7733 which was still in great condition, and just needed a service to put things right.

When the bezel came back from re-plating, the results were mixed. The plating was flawless, which was good, but much of the original stepped profile had been removed as part of the process, probably when the remainder of the old plate was removed.

Rather than lose the effect altogether, I masked off what was left of the step and gave it a brushed finish. The brushing was only light as I didn’t want to go through the plate again on the upper lip. It’s not perfect, but it does go some way to restoring the original look.

With the worn pusher replaced and the hands re-painted, polishing the crystal was the last job before final assembly.


** Many thanks to John Hewitt for letting me feature his watch on the blog. **

Heuer Regatta (Lemania Cal. 1345)…

To say this Heuer Regatta had had a tough life would be an understatement.

(Click pictures to enlarge)

From the mid 1970’s until the mid 1980’s Heuer released a range of Regatta timers similar to the Aquastar models I’ve written about in the past. Heuer used the same calibre as Aquastar, the Lemania cal. 1345 which is a modified version of their cal. 1341 cam lever chronograph. A detailed description of how the calibre 1345 works can be found in a previous post, here.

The following picture is from a 1980 Heuer brochure which shows the Regatta models that were available at the time.

You will notice that some of the watch cases and bracelets in the picture above are dark in colour, rather than the steel or gold normally seen. The cases and bracelets on these models are PVD coated. PVD stands for “Physical Vapour Deposition” which is a process used to produce a metal vapour that can be deposited on any electrically conductive material. The resulting finish is well suited to watch cases and bracelets as it is very hard wearing, though not indestructible. For more details on the PVD process, see here.

At some time a previous owner of the watch in this post either got tired of the PVD coating, or it partially wore off and so he tried to sand it off…. with less than successful results.

Unfortunately, the movement hadn’t been treated with much respect either. Though the timekeeping part of the watch was working, the sailing timer showed no signs of life, and pressing the timer button did nothing at all.

With the hands, dial and timer disc removed it was not hard to see why, 90% of the parts for the sailing timer were missing, and the timing disc was just stuck onto the back of the dial with double sided tape!

Finding parts for these watches can be difficult these days, and often a second watch has to be sourced to use as a parts donor. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case here as a watchmaker based in France was able to supply all the missing parts for the timer, as well as a new sweep second hand.

The movement still needed quite a bit of work as many of the existing parts had been bent, and even filed down in the past in an attempt to repair the timer mechanism, probably by a watchmaker who didn’t fully understand how it should work.

Cosmetically, little could be done to restore the PVD coating on the case apart from having it completely re-coated, but fortunately, the same watchmaker who supplied the parts also had a near NOS (new old stock) case and bracelet too. Here is the end result.

The owner of this watch, Mark Reichardt, has a keen interest in sailing timers. If you have any questions or information about them, especially the vintage mechanical models, I’m sure he’d like to hear from you. You can contact him at the following email address; j.m.reichardt@planet.nl


** Many thanks to Mark for letting me feature his watch on the blog. **

Zodiac Chronograph (Zodiac Cal. 90)…

Here is a great looking watch from the 1970’s, a Zodiac chronograph.

(Click pictures to enlarge)

Although running on arrival, the watch had a number of problems; it was missing a pusher, and the crystal, stem, and one of the chronograph levers were all broken. Parts would be needed to put this one right.

Inside this watch is a Zodiac Cal. 90 which I’m sure the sharp-eyed among you will spot immediately bears more than a passing resemblance to a Heuer Cal. 12.

During the 1970’s Heuer produced watches for other brands such as Clebar, Zodiac, Hamilton and Tradition, often identical to their own models but sold at a lower price point. These watches are referred to as “Poor Man’s Heuers” by the Heuer collecting community as they sell for significantly less than their Heuer branded counterparts these days, but represent great value for money if you can find them.

Tracking down a chronograph lever and new stem was quite easy, but finding a suitable tension ring crystal proved harder than I thought. The pictures don’t really show it, but this is a large watch, the face of which is nearly all dial. Because the tachymeter ring on this model is inside the crystal rather than being mounted on an external bezel, a much larger crystal is needed, and finding one locally proved difficult. I eventually had to order one from overseas.

Finding a replacement ‘fluted’ pusher was also difficult as the same style of pusher is used on Heuer’s Autavia models so they are quite a sought after item. To get the watch up and running again, a decision was made to replace both pushers with standard round headed pushers as it wouldn’t be much work to replace the pushers at a later date should a second fluted pusher be found.

However, as is often the case with work-around solutions, that wasn’t the end of the story. When the new pushers were installed they were nowhere near long enough to reach the movement due to the large size of the case, so I had to make some pusher screws with longer heads to solve the problem.

In the inset picture above you can see that the tip from the original stem has broken off. Though the stem may still work without the tip in some cases, it is essential for keeping the stem in line. Any lateral movement while winding or time setting would very quickly wear parts in the keyless works, so the stem should be replaced as soon as possible.

With all the replacement parts sourced, the movement was serviced, the case cleaned, and the watch re-assembled. It may be a Poor Man’s Heuer to some, but I wish I had a bag full of them!


** Many thanks to Henrik de Keizer for letting me feature his watch on the blog. **

Heuer Diver 844/3 (ETA Cal. 2872)…

This diver from Heuer is known as the 844/3, and was a popular model in the 1980s.

(Click pictures to enlarge)

Already an established name in the chronograph field, in the late 1970’s Heuer decided to test the water with a divers watch (pardon the pun!). Rather than set up an entire production facility they chose to rebrand an existing model from the French producer, Monnin. These early watches were fitted with an automatic French Ebauche calibre (the FE cal. 4611A) and the only thing ‘Heuer’ about the watch was the dial, as the case and movement were still signed G. Monnin. For more information and pictures of the Heuer/Monnin diver, check out this post on Jarl Fr. Rehn-Erichsen’s blog Classic Heuers.

When the experiment proved to be a success, Heuer decided to develop its own version of the watch and switch production back to Switzerland. Rather than continuing with the FE cal. 4611A, the watches were fitted with ETA calibres, and other models were added to the range; namely quartz and ladies versions of the watch. Here is a catalogue image from 1981 showing the models that were available.

Source: AutaviaPassion

In September 1985 TAG (Techniques d’Avant Garde) bought Heuer and from then on all watches were badged TAG Heuer. The 844 remained in the model lineup but was rebranded as the TAG Heuer 1000, a model that proved popular and remained in the range for many years. Even today the influence of the 1000 can still be seen in some of  the current Aquaracer models.

It’s hard to date the watch in this post exactly, but it must have been produced between 1981 and 1985 as it is fitted with an ETA Cal. 2872, and only has Heuer printed on the dial.

There wasn’t anything wrong with the watch this time, the movement just needed a service. As the original hands weren’t in the best condition, rather than restore them, the owner preferred to replace them with sword hands. The new hands weren’t an exact match and needed to be adjusted to fit properly, but the result was worth the effort I think.

You may have noticed that a Heuer transfer has been added to the rotor of this watch.  As the condition of the movement is much better than the rotor,  my guess is that the original rotor was damaged at some time and was replaced.


** Thanks to Anders Bunes for letting me feature his watch on the blog, and to Marius Jensen for providing information and pictures for this post. **

Heuer Autavia 2446C (Valjoux Cal. 72)…

Arriving in a sorry state, this Heuer Autavia needed more work than most watches featured on the blog…

(Click pictures to enlarge)

The reason the watch was in such poor condition was due to a motorcycle accident in which the watch took a fair amount of punishment, one of the pushers had been ripped out and the impact had even caused the snap back of the watch case to pop off.

Needless to say, in the aftermath of such an accident, a watch doesn’t figure highly on the list of priorities, so it was ‘retired’ into a drawer where it remained for the next 36 years.

As well as the obvious damage, either during the crash or afterwards, moisture had found its way into the case and did what it does best, corroding the dial, hands and some of the movement parts. Consequently, the watch was no longer running and was stuck in the time setting position.

The calibre in this watch is the Valjoux 72; a 17 jewel column wheel chronograph calibre. The cal. 72 was one of the longest serving and most highly regarded members of the Valjoux lineup, and was used by many distinguished brands over the years. The calibre was based on the Valjoux 23, but with a 12 hour register added on the dial side. It was also available with a calendar complication, the cal. 72C.

At first glance, the movement didn’t seem to be in too bad a condition, with just signs of rust on some of the underlying components…

… but with the dial removed it was clear that the keyless works would need quite a bit of attention.

Luckily, the corrosion wasn’t as bad as it looked and all but one of the parts could be cleaned up and reused, so with the rest of the movement restored and running again it was time to tackle the cosmetic issues.

I was very lucky to find a near perfect replacement dial, and when the hands were cleaned and relumed, and the centre second hand rubbed down to bare metal and repainted, things were already starting to look better.

Although only one pusher was missing, on closer inspection the shaft of the remaining pusher had rusted too, so after the case had been cleaned, two new pushers and a new crystal were installed. The last thing to do was to fit a new strap and Heuer buckle to finish the job.

Here are the results…


** Many thanks to Helge Johnsen for letting me feature his watch on the blog. **

Heuer Bundeswehr (Valjoux Cal. 230)…

This watch is known as the Heuer Bundeswehr chronograph, or “Heuer Bund” for short…

(Click pictures to enlarge)

The majority of these watches have the word “Bundeswehr” engraved on the back as they were issued to German servicemen from 1968 until the late 1970’s (Bundes Wehr means ‘Federal Defence’ in German). This watch however, is different and somewhat rarer, as it was issued to a member of the Norwegian Air Force.

The Bundeswehr watches were produced with a number of dial variations over the years (see here) and all featured high quality flyback chronograph calibres. The calibre in this particular watch is the Valjoux cal. 230; a hand wound 17 jewel calibre with a rate of 18,000 bph.

In a regular chronograph calibre the chronograph mechanism must be stopped before it can be reset. In a flyback chronograph, the mechanism can be reset while it is still running, making it particularly useful for timing consecutive short interval events. This is achieved by the addition of a additional lever in the chronograph mechanism. When the reset button is pressed the flyback lever lifts the coupling clutch from the chronograph centre wheel allowing the mechanism to reset.

As well as having a flyback function this calibre also hacks, which means that the movement stops when setting the time so it can be set to exactly to the right second.

With the chronograph mechanism and train wheel bridge removed you can see the hacking lever. When the stem is pulled out the setting wheel moves forward and the hacking lever pivots around the screw arresting the balance wheel (not present in the picture below). You can see in this picture that the main plate has been decorated with a perlage pattern underneath the balance wheel. The same decoration is also present on the dial side of the calibre, another sign of quality (see inset).

When the watch arrived, it was running but the chronograph mechanism was not working and further investigation revealed that the mechanism was stuck in the reset position. Thankfully, none of the parts were damaged, so after a service the movement was returned to fully working condition again and showed little sign of use.

With the movement up and running, the last thing to do was to relubricate the pushers and clean the case…



** Many thanks to Jarl Fr. Erichsen of Classic Heuers for letting me feature his watch on the blog. **

Heuer Chronograph (Valjoux Cal. 71)…

Another Heuer chronograph, this time a very handsome model from around 1940…

(Click pictures to enlarge)

The calibre in this watch is the Valjoux Cal. 71, a manually wound three register chronograph, capable of timing events up to 12 hours.

Although not obvious from the picture above, this calibre has a hairspring with a Breguet overcoil.  The difference between a regular (flat) hairspring and a Breguet overcoil is that the terminal curve is bent upwards above the plane of the rest of the spring…

The advantage of using a Breguet overcoil is that the centre of gravity of the hairspring remains constant regardless of position, and the spring can develop concentrically from the centre, promoting a more consistent rate. One disadvantage of using this kind of spring is that extra height is needed to accommodate the raised terminal curve. As extra height is needed for the chronograph mechanism anyway, space is not a problem with this calibre.

Apart from being in pretty scruffy state, the watch also had a couple of other issues. Firstly, the mainspring had ‘set’. This condition usually occurs with older carbon steel mainsprings that have been coiled up in the mainspring barrel for too long. A modern alloy mainspring in good condition should have an ‘S’ form as pictured below, the old steel mainspring is pictured inset.

Secondly, the sliding gear spring was broken. This spring provides pressure on the sliding gear to ensure that the chronograph finger can advance the chronograph mechanism when engaged. Finding parts for older Valjoux calibres can be quite difficult these days, but thankfully it wasn’t too hard to find a replacement spring this time (inset).

With the movement cleaned and back up and running, it was just a matter of straightening the centre second hand and the job was finished…. not a bad looking 70 year old, I’m sure you’ll agree!



** Many thanks to Jarl Fr. Erichsen of Classic Heuers for letting me feature his watch on the blog **

Heuer Autavia (Heuer Cal. 15)…

Here is a fine looking watch, a vintage Heuer Autavia from the early 1970’s…

(Click pictures to enlarge)

The Heuer name has a been around for a long time, the company being first started by Edouard Heuer in 1860. He developed and patented his first chronograph in 1882, and went on to patent the ‘oscillating pinion’ system in 1887, which has been used in chronographs for more than a century (this watch being no exception.)

In more recent times Jack Heuer (the great-grandson of Edouard Heuer) became the majority shareholder of the company in 1962, and two years later acquired their main competitor Leonidas Watch Co, to become Heuer-Leonidas SA.

A collaboration between the boffins at Heuer-Leonidas, Hamilton-Buren, Breitling, and Dubois Depraz brought to market the first ever automatic chronograph calibre, in March 1969. It was known as the Calibre 11 “Chrono-Matic” and was used in the Autavia, Monaco and Carrera models available at the time.

More automatic calibres quickly followed; first the Calibre 12 which was a redesigned Calibre 11 with a faster 21,600bph rate, then the Calibre 14 which added an additional GMT hand, and finally the calibre in this watch, the Calibre 15…

The Calibre 15 differs from the others in the series in that the design was simplified to include a running seconds indicator in place of a 12 hour register. If you compare the pictures above with an Autavia fitted with a Calibre 12, the differences are easy to see…

The basis for the Heuer calibres was the Buren Cal. 1281, onto which a Dubois Depraz chronograph module was added. The Buren calibre was never designed to accommodate such an addition so changes had to be made, one of them being a 180 degree rotation of the main plate, resulting in the crown being on the left and the chronograph pushers being on the right.

At first glance you would be forgiven for thinking that these calibres are manually wound, but with the chronograph module removed you can see that they have a “micro-rotor” winding mechanism hiding inside…

Originally developed by Buren, the main benefit of the micro-rotor system is that the winding mechanism is integrated into the main body of the calibre keeping the height to a minimum, making them ideal for dress watches. (For more information on Buren micro-rotors see here).

Ok that’s enough technical history, back to the watch! It arrived with a couple of issues; it would run, but not for long, and the chronograph didn’t work properly. A movement service solved the running problem as the oil sinks were all dry, but the chronograph was more of a challenge.

Once the chronograph had been re-assembled, it was obvious that the eccentric adjustment screws had been moved (ordinarily these screws aren’t moved during a routine service). If adjustment is needed it’s essential that you understand the function of each of these screws, as making an adjustment to solve one problem can easily introduce another elsewhere.

Progress was hindered further by small spots of corrosion on some of the parts, the most problematic being a spot on the fine teeth of the centre chronograph wheel. However, after careful removal of the corrosion and time spent on getting the adjustment right, it was running and resetting properly again.

The last thing to do was to replace the cracked crystal…

The owner of this watch, Jarl Fr. Erichsen, has a great collection of vintage Heuers, check them out on his blog Classic Heuers.


** Many thanks to Jarl for letting me feature his watch on the blog **