Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Quick Look: Heuer Camaro

Recently I had the opportunity to have a close look at a rare gem- the Heuer Camaro. Up until now I've never seen one in person and having handled one now, it is much smaller than I thought. You can never tell the size from images on the Internet. This example even had what looks like the original strap fitted with the original buckle. Apparently it was never serviced either but it was still running. Seemingly relatively on time. 

The Camaro is powered by the venerable Valjoux manual wind chronograph movements and it's quite refreshing to know that these older movements were built tough if not pretty and designed to last. Of course the owner of the watch hasn't worn it in years which may have contributed to the great condition of the watch. It's unfortunate that the Camaro had a very short production run, phased out in 1971/72, having been introduced in 1968.

In the beginning they were fitted with Valjoux 72, but later on various 'newer' version s were fitted, including 92, 7730, 7733 and 7734. This latter movement is the same as the one fitted to the "poor man's Heuer, the LeJour chrono, seen here and here. The valjoux handwind movements were all very robust and reliable albeit not very pretty to look at, but this was before the modern see-through case back craze, so I guess that didn't really matter. The movements will all have signed "Heuer" on the bridge. 

Jack Heuer was the driving force behind the design and production of the Camaro, and the name was an excellent fit for a chronograph back then, as it was around the mid 60s that a new trend of "Muscle cars" hit the US car industry. The idea behind these Muscle cars were to fit massive engines into smallish cars, and to say the Ford Mustang was successful would be to say that the moon landing was no big deal. Chevrolet reacted very quickly, came up with the Camaro, and this model was also extremely popular. Wonder why Heuer didn't name the chronograph Mustang?

As Tag Heuer focuses on advancements in high accuracy mechanical timekeeping, it would be so great if they can divert a little attention to their history and the vast range of brilliant chronographs they have in the vault and offer re-editions. They've done it in the past with models such as the silverstone and the autavia. The Monaco and Carrera seems to be the only historically based model in continued production. You COULD argue that the Monza is a modern day tribute to the Camaro, given the similar cushion case shapes, but it's not really the same, is it? The Camaro is a beauty that deserves to be more widely recognized and that it is just one of many Heuers which, for the time being, regretfully consigned to the archives...


Case size: 37mm x 37mm
Cushion shape with brushed finish and bevelled polished edges.
3 subdials for running seconds, 30min and 12 hour counters. Steel hour and minute hands with lum inserts, red centre chronograph seconds hand.
Movement: 17-Jewel Valjoux 72 manual wind movement. (I'm guess here, since I didn't open the case up)

1 comment:

Horologium said...

I can totally see this as a re-edition, and a successful one.