Omega unveiled this execution of their already popular Seamaster line of automatics in 1954 at the Basel Fair. Considered ultra-thin at the time, the 35mm case rang in at just under 8mm thick, making it a true innovation for the era.
Produced in a variety of finished and lug designs, and driven by the stalwart 354 "bumper wind" automatic movement, this Seamaster became an instant classic, finding it's way onto the wrists of many gentlemen of the era.
Most notable among those who fell for the Calibre 354 Seamaster was Louis Armstrong, the legendary jazz man and band leader who donned the watch for numerous shows and concerts. A fancy lug gold execution of the watch was featured prominently on Armstrong's wrist on numerous albums covers from the era.
With a lovely silvered dial, Arabic numerals at 3, 6, 9 and 12 with accompanying radium plot, polished applied spike hour markers and luminous Dauphine hands, this perfectly appointed piece oozes cool and wears terrifically on the wrist. One look at it's sleek design will evoke images of smoky jazz clubs and the clink of chilled martini glasses.
This particular example is in lovely original condition and has aged gorgeously, the silver dial relaxing into a creamy champagne and the luminous material bearing a stunning evening patina. The yellow gold-filled stainless case is in excellent condition.
If Louis were here, he'd be singing too... unforgettable.
In the 1960s, Heuer was THE chronograph brand, its Carrera, Autavia, Camaro and Monza wrist timers seen on the wrists of race car drivers and well-heeled enthusiasts alike.
But being the leading brand, they were more expensive than a lot of armchair racers could afford. This gave rise to the so-called “Poor Man’s Heuer”, those chronographs that resembled Heuers and, in some cases, even made by Heuer for other brands. Many of those brands had names lost to history—Clebar, Aristo and Tradition—while others lived on to the present day in one form or another. We've been working hard for the past few years to source and present the best examples of these stunning and budget-conscious timepieces, but the one we have for you today really is truly a different kind of awesome; a Hamilton "Carrera" Dato!
At first glance, this chrono shares a number of design elements with the other "Poor Man's Heuers" we have featured in the past; a trim 36mm steel case with sharp, flat lugs, barrel pushers, and matte inverse panda dial. What sets it apart is the date feature, a true rarity in any Carrera - Poor Man's or otherwise. Heuer brand Carreras had their date function located at 9:00 in lieu of a subsidiary seconds register, an asymmetrical layout that is either loved or loathed by collectors. By placing the date at 6:00, the balance of the dial is maintained, making this Hamilton an arguably better looking version than the name brand!
Internally, this piece features the robust Valjoux 7734 manual winding chronograph movement, a workhorse unit used widely by Heuer in the 60s and 70s. With values on early Carreras reaching new heights as of late, the value proposition for Poor Man's versions continues to gain strength. But aside from all of that - aside from the connection to Heuer, the motorsports pedigree, and the evewr-increasing value of vintage sporting chronographs, this is an outright stunning timepiece with an excellent movement, one you can wear with pride, regardless of the cost.
In other words, this is one time being “poor” isn’t a bad thing.
Through much of World War II, allied aviators were donning the American-made A-11 service watch. While this tough-as-nails timekeeper performed meritoriously for soldiers and airmen alike, Britain's Ministry of Defense found that the production specifications of the A-11 were too broad and resulted in timepieces too imprecise for effective navigation.
As an answer to the A-11, the MoD issued new standards for the watches going to its RAF pilots. The new standard, coded 6B/346, required chronometer-grade performance and anti-magnetic properties. For the production of this new timepiece, the MoD turned to major European manufactures, eventually giving contracts to two: Jaeger-LeCoultre and International Watch Company.
The resulting timepiece was the Mark XI Pilot's watch.
In addition to the relatively standard features present on the A-11 (center seconds, hacking and a stainless steel case) the Mark XI featured a soft iron dial and dust cover which shielded the movement from magnetism. What really sets the IWC apart from its contemporaries, however, is the use of their outstanding Calibre 89 movement, a masterpiece manufacture movement that is universally lauded as one of the most robust three hand movements of all time. With excellent durability and reliability in the field, Mark XIs saw use in the RAF for decades, transcending the age of piston-driven Spitfires and VTOL Harriers, a testament to the less-is-more philosophy for tool watches.
This particular example was produced in 1948 and was maintained under contract by IWC, featuring a factory-restored original "T" dial and handset with replaced luminescent material on the markers. If you're a fan of military aviation, there might be no more important watch to add to your collection!
Last year, we would have said the Camaro is the most under-appreciated vintage model in the lineup of chronographs from Heuer. Once overshadowed by the Carrera, the Monaco and the Autavia in the minds of collectors, the Camaro has come into it’s own recently, earning top billing in the eyes of many new and old Heuer enthusiasts, and it’s easy to see why. The Camaro is every bit as functional, beautiful and wonderfully retro as the rest of the Heuer lineup, evoking the 60s and 70s Motorsports legacy brilliantly.
Heuer launched the Camaro in 1968, just one year before the introduction of the first automatic-winding movement, the Chronomatic, was fitted into the Monaco, the Autavia and the Carrera lines the following year. Last seen in the 1972 catalog, the Camaro had one of the shortest production runs of all the models from the 60s and 70s, leading to their relative rarity today.
In a sense, the Camaro is a blend of the early manually-wound Carreras and the later Monacos, with the combination of a square cushion case and straight lugs, evocative of a Monaco, the same manual calibers and dials similar to Carreras. Larger than a Carrera but without the heft of a Monaco, the Camaro is as comfortable as it is stylish.
We love all of the Camaros (yes, even the gold-plated oddballs), but what we have here is an extremely special piece, and one that we can say with a great deal of certainty that we will never find again. Heuer sold some of their watches at some of the most prestigious European dealers in the 60s and 70s, and occasionally co-signed their dials with the dealers’ names (like the Gübelin Carrera). Co-singed Heuers are extremely rare today, and in our research we were not able to find another example of a silver dial Meister Camaro. If you’ve been looking to add a Camaro to your collection, this one is as good as it gets.
The case measures 37mm, but like all square watches, the Camaro wears larger than the numbers might suggest. The manual movement lends itself to a thin case, making the watch quite comfortable on the wrist. The case features a variety of finishes, notably the signature Heuer sunburst finish on the top of the case, beveling down into a polished outer perimeter and the polished finish continuing onto the sides of the case and lugs.
While it's "big brother" (the Monaco) might have stolen the spotlight in the collector market, in our opinion you'd be hard pressed to find a legitimate vintage Motorsports chronograph with more style and charisma. Add in an exceeding rare dial and you have a watch that deserves a top spot in the very best vintage watch collections.
We are a couple of guys based in New York City with a passion for bespoke style, substance, and authenticity. Admittedly, we appreciate ALL well-crafted and precious things, from fine single-malts to handmade cordovan bluchers, but we have a special and earnest love for the world of vintage goods, in particular, the world of vintage and luxury timepieces. We love the stories and histories vintage watches contain and the unparalleled craftsmanship with which they were made, often harkening back to an era when raw value was respected and a firm handshake was unflappable. Most importantly, we enjoy them for the works of wearable art that they are. We've had it with digital...we are 100% analog.
Our goal is to find and bring to market a small collection of exceptional vintage and contemporary timepieces. All of our items are hand-picked by our team, representing horologically interesting, important and desirable pieces. Essentially, we scour the market for the best available wristwatches, authenticate them and present them to you in an honest and straightforward manner.
We are here to help you buy a watch — not sell you one.