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Antique gun metal chronograph pocket watch by Edouard Heuer.

Last updated on December 10, 2023

I was recently admiring a modern Tag Heuer Carrera, which inspired me to investigate the history behind Edouard Heuer and his watch company. As a result of my research, I came across this gun metal chronograph pocket watch by Edouard Heuer. As a collector, I focus my attention on antique watches without complications. However, I am still interested from a research point of view, in all antique watches. This particular watch dates to around 1910.

Heuer Watch Company

The Heuer Watch Company was founded by Edouard Heuer in Saint-Imier, Switzerland in 1860. In 1864, Heuer moved the company to his home town, Brugg, where it operated under the name Edouard Heuer & Compagnie. Heuer patented their first pocket watch chronograph in 1882 and their first wristwatch chronograph in 1914. The wristwatch chronograph had the crown at the 12 o’clock position as it was adapted from the pocket watch design. The company gained worldwide attention Heuer was chosen as the official timekeeper for the Olympics in the 1920s in Antwerp, Paris, and Amsterdam. The company also had a long history of servicing the automobile and airline industries. In 1985, the TAG group purchased a majority stake in the company thus forming TAG Heuer.

Heuer chronograph dial.
Heuer chronograph dial. © The Vintage Wrist Watch Company

Movement

This particular watch has a high-quality 19 ligne chronograph movement. A ligne (pronounced “line”) is not a model or caliber number, it is a unit of measurement.  A ligne is 1/12 of an old French inch, which is about 2.256mm. The movement has been identified as being manufactured by Edouard Heuer, which is running nicely and keeping good time. The movement is protected by an inner hinged cover.

Heuer chronograph movement.
Heuer chronograph movement. © The Vintage Wrist Watch Company

Case

The watch measures 51mm in diameter excluding the winding stem and the loop. The case material is gunmetal, which is steel that has been treated with caustic soda. It gives the steel a darkened appearance and the treatment leaves it resistant to corrosion. Overall, the case is in good condition with just light surface discolouration which has come from day-to-day use. This type of wear is known as patina and is perfectly acceptable to collectors. In fact, most collectors will prefer watches with patina, rather than watches that are fully restored. The glass crystal is in good condition with no scratches or chips.

Heuer chronograph case.
Heuer chronograph case. © The Vintage Wrist Watch Company

Dial

The enamel dial is in excellent condition. There are two subsidiary dials, one for constant seconds and the other records up to 30 minutes. The chronograph is operated by pressing the winding crown to start, again to stop and then again to re-set to zero. The watch is wound by turning the crown. The watch has pin-set hands, which means the small pin to the right of the stem needs to be depressed to set the time by turning the crown. The outer chapter of the dial is marked from 0 to 300. Therefore, one complete rotation of the timer hand equals 1 minute or 300 x 1/5th of a second. Within this is the technical index with 1/5th-second markers. Next are the railroad chapter markings followed by the Arabic hour markers 1 to 12.

Summary

It is an interesting timepiece, running accurately to within 2 minutes per day, which is perfectly acceptable for an antique watch. It is also very presentable. I would have no use for a chronograph. I have a modern G-Shock that performs that task perfectly well. As I am finishing this post, I have noted that someone has purchased the Heuer chronograph. I hope the new owner gets as much enjoyment out of their timepiece as I did in researching the Heuer Watch Company.

One Comment

  1. Daniel Daniel

    Now known as Tag Heuer because the TAG group purchased a majority stake in the company In 1985. I’m the owner of a modern Tag Heuer Carrera, its a great watch, so it is very interesting to read the full history of the Heuer brand. Thanks.

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