The world of horology follow trends; some of which we see coming and others that seemingly appear out of nowhere. This can be around complications (or lack there of – think the current focus on time-only pieces), eras, case sizes or brands. One trend that has been strong for a while and that is showing no sign of slowing down is the chrono obsession. This edition of ‘Spot On’ focuses on a reasonably rare example from a cult classic brand – The Heuer Carrera Dato 3147 NS or ‘The One Eyed Pirate’.
Fans of motor racing and its associated watches are always drawn to Heuer. The brand was founded in 1860 by Edouard Heuer and was initially focused on dashboard timers for the automobile and aircraft industries. They became somewhat known as innovators and in 1916 they launched the ‘Micrograph’, which was the very first stopwatch that was accurate to 1/100 of a second. One of Heuers most recognisable lines was actually launched as far back as 1933 – the Autavia. The early 30s Autavias were dashboard timers used in automobiles and aircrafts; in fact the name is an amalgam of the words automobile and aviation! The well known Autavia chronograph wrist watches were, however, introduced much later in 1962.
Photo credit: classicdriver.com
The heyday of Heuer is seen as the 1960s when the Carrera was first introduced. The brand by that time a virtually unsurpassed reputation for producing exceptional and reliable stopwatches and timing devices for the now hugely popular motor racing industry. The drivers, timing teams and technical support crews involved in this world naturally started wearing the Heuer chronograph watches when they became available as Heuer was brand that they already held in high esteem; thus explaining the close ties. This was also the era that Edouardo’s Great Grandson Jack Heuer was at the helm of the brand. It was Jack Heuer who designed and launched the Carrera in 1963, as a simple looking chronograph with minimalist applied baton hour markers and very clean chronograph registers. The 1/5 second increments on the ‘inner bezel’ were used for the stopwatch function and the watch was instantly a big hit and remains an iconic line in the brand’s current arsenal.
Jack Heuer (Photo credit: classicdriver.com)
Our featured watch is a rare iteration of the fairly extensive Carrera line. Known also as the Dato 45 (due to the sole 45 minute register on the right hand side of the dial) these watches feature a date window and were the first chronographs to feature a rotating ‘date disc’. There are two versions of the 3147 – the first features the date at 12 o’clock and has two chrono registers. The second, like our example here, has the date at 9 o’clock and just the one chrono register.
Driven by Landeron
The Heuer Carrera Dato 3147 watches were cased in the typical 60s style Carrera case but had a slightly modified caseback to allow for the movement. The majority of the Carrera watches were powered by Valjoux movements, especially the calibre 72. The 3147s, however, were powered by the Landeron caliber 189 which was a very popular manual wind movement during that era.
One Eye On The Dial
The order of the day for these watches was legibility, for two reasons – both ease of use and safety. Racing cars, no matter what precautions are put into place, is never going to be one of the safest pastimes, especially in the 1960s. Drivers needed to be able to quickly glance at the timer and not spend too much time scrutinising the readings. The oversize minute counter on this ‘monocompax’ really is highly legible and it is a key useful aspect of this toolwatch; where function and design collide beautifully. In fact, the whole watch has a big presence on the wrist, largely due to the very slim bezel and outer rim of the case…the dial really does sit proudly and reach the very edge of the watch case.
During my research of this watch I came across a couple of very interesting examples of these watches. Both special issue, but for very different purposes. The first was a very early example of these watches, commissioned by Shelby Cobra Racing. An early example of such a logo dial, it certainly looks very cool!
Photo Credit: Watchonista
Another interesting 3147 was an example issued to the Royal Jordanian Air Force. Like other military timepieces, this watch was a regular issue watch but marked on the caseback with the military engravings.
Photo Credit: vintageheuercarrera.com