The list of watch brands to which entire auctions have been devoted is short — Rolex, Patek Philippe, Omega, and a handful of others come to mind. TAG Heuer joins that elite group this year, just in time for the brand’s 150th anniversary. WatchTime previews the sale.
On December 15, the British auction house Bonhams presents the Haslinger Collection, made up of vintage Heuer chronographs accumulated by Arno Haslinger, an automobile and motorsports enthusiast and renowned Heuer collector based in Austria. The collection was unveiled at a VIP reception in Bonham’s New York City showroom on October 18.
There will be 100 lots up for bid, which include 81 watches along with other accessories and memorabilia, all from the 1960s through the early 1980s, most from the era before Heuer became TAG Heuer. The accessories include such novel items as Heuer racing-helmet alarm clocks, with quartz-driven clocks inside miniature Formula 1 racing helmets adorned with period advertising and drivers’ names. There are also watch display boxes in the racing-helmet motif, as well as vintage catalogs, signs and brochures. Other non-watch timing devices from Heuer include one of the brand’s famous Microsplit timers from 1979, a dashboard stopwatch, and even a pedometer.
The wristwatches up for bid include, as one would expect, numerous examples of Heuer’s iconic chronograph watches, the Carrera and the Monaco, along with several examples of models from Heuer’s 1970s archives that few today, outside of serious collectors, might be aware of, most of which are also associated with auto racing.
These watches include several from the popular but now discontinued Autavia family. The Autavia was produced between 1962 and 1986, and derived its name from “automobile” and “aviation,” because it was used for timing events for both. Among the Autavias in the Haslinger Collection are an extremely rare, manual-wind GMT model (Ref. 746103) from 1974 and a 1963 chronograph (Ref. 2446, shown below) with a manual-wind Valjoux 72 movement, inscribed on its bridge with a serial number and inside its caseback with the firm’s old name, “Ed. Heuer & Co. Swiss”. The serial numbers would soon be discontinued and the company name would become Heuer-Leonidas the following year.
The popular Carrera design inspired another model, the Monza. It was released as a limited-edition watch to celebrate the Formula 1 racing title won by driver Niki Lauda in 1975. The Monza had its model name above the Heuer logo at 12 o’clock, contrasting with the Carrera’s name at 9 o’clock, and it included a tachymeter and a pulsometer scale around the dial. One of the Monzas up for auction, shown below, includes the original racing-helmet watch case in which it was packaged.
The big slide rule scale on the wide bezel is the first thing you notice about the vintage Calculator model, an eye-catching early-1970s timepiece that combined an automatic chronograph with a slide rule function. The Ref. 110633 model up for auction (shown below), outfitted with automatic Caliber 12, has an interesting feature: the crown on the left side of the case and a sealed drill-hole between the pushers on the right side, indicating that the piece could have been a test watch for a manual-wind conversion.
Another model that will be new to many modern-day TAG Heuer fans is the Montreal, a watch launched in 1972 as Heuer expanded into the Canadian market and became the official timer for the 1976 Olympic games in Montreal as well as the 1978 Montreal Grand Prix. The Montreal models were automatic chronographs with pulsometer and tachymeter scales, chrono pushers on the right and crown on the left. Both Ref. 110503 B models in the collection have big, luminous blue dials and red chronograph hands, and come with their original perforated-leather racing straps.
A Heuer Montreal ref. 110503 B
Apparently, auto racing was not the only sport that inspired the 1970s Heuer watches. The Haslinger Collection also includes two timepieces associated with yachting and sailing, the Solunar and the Skipper. The Solunar (Ref. 279603, deriving its name from “sol” for sun and “lunar” for moon – shown below) has an outer bezel with high-tide and low-tide markings and a bilingual weekday function that can be set to French or English. It is the first tides watch with an automatic movement. The 1976 model up for bid is a very rare collectors’s item. The Skipper (Ref. 7764 MHm, also below) from 1970, with its Valjoux 7730 manual-wind movement, is a “nautical stopwatch” with a large 15-minute subdial, divided into red, white, and blue segments at 3 o’clock, and a regatta minute-countdown function.
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