The vintage Heuer market has been been faring remarkably well in recent years, and the last few major watch auctions by Christie’s and Phillips have shown that it’s not slowing down soon. If you want to buy a classic, mint-condition Steve McQueen Monaco watch, it will cost you $15,000 to $20,000 nowadays, and a pair of rarer Heuer Autavias managed to pull in a combined hammer price of more than $150,000 at the Phillips Steel Chronographs auction in Geneva this past May. Even the previously undervalued Heuer Monza has seen a healthy little spike since TAG Heuer released its sexy reissue at Baselworld this year.
Over the past few years Crown & Caliber—a reputable online watch reseller we highlighted here last August—has been amassing a significant collection of notable Heuer watches, and this coming September it's planning the biggest online auction of Heuers we’ve ever heard of. The count is currently at a little more than 70, and from now until August 22, Crown & Caliber has issued a call for consignment from other collectors who want to auction off their rare beauties.
"The Heuer market right now is experiencing a huge boom in interest over the past few years," explains C&C's CEO Hamilton Powell. "I think it’s partly because of the trend toward vintage watches in general from the community and brands alike—you see a lot of brands releasing “Heritage” collections in the last couple of years and bringing back older designs as inspiration. But I think it’s also because Heuer watches have such a rich history not only in the watch world, but in sports and racing culture as well, and so many of their designs are iconic and timeless."
The brand isn’t going to accept any old Heuer, mind you. They’ve enlisted the help of Jeff Stein—America's leading Heuer historian—to ensure the watches they bring in are of exceptional pedigree. Stein will also be creating a wide array of custom content documenting each watch in the auction to give bidders a thorough look at these stunning collectibles.
But let's step back for a moment here. The Heuer Watch Company began in the Swiss Jura in 1860 and soon became known for watchmaker Edouard Heuer's craftsmanship and innovation. In the decades that followed, Heuer patented several watchmaking advances, such as the oscillating pinion. The company became the official timekeeper for three Olympic games in the early 20th century and created the first dashboard clock, the Autavia, which was used in cars and planes (and eventually became a signature wristwatch line). In 1985, the TAG conglomerate bought the brand, and it became TAG Heuer.
Given the fact that TAG Heuer is still going strong, vintage Heuers are an excellent, affordable gateway drug to to the world of collecting for budding watch aficionados. Guys who recently picked up a new Carrera or Aquaracer can understand the brand’s heritage and quality, and with the 100+ watches to choose from in this upcoming auction, there will be ample opportunity for both recent and long-standing collectors to get their paws on a killer vintage timepiece.
The sale will include a few standout watches that are head-and-shoulders above the pack. One is the Heuer Monaco 74033N, also known as the Dark Lord. Two of these seldom-seen PVD-coated gems have crossed the block in the last few years, fetching between between $60,000 and $70,000 a piece. The popularity of black watches continues to rise, and we don’t doubt that a bidding field full of Heuer enthusiasts could see this prime Dark Lord be one of, if not the top lot of the auction.
The second group of watches that will likely pique a lot of interest are some of Hamilton Powell's favorites; he has always had a soft spot for the Jo Siffert, the white dialed Autavia with blue accents sported by the Swiss Formula One star back in the day. "Jo Siffert represents all that was right with the watch industry at the time. Adventure, creativity, etc," says Powell. "This is why we spent some time telling the story of the Siffert in some of the content pieces that will go live with the sale."
At the time of publishing, five different variations of the historical chronograph were listed on September’s docket.
Although the auction will be running online via Crown & Caliber’s website, New York residents will be able to see the entire collection first-hand at the Trunk Club’s New York City Clubhouse from September 19 through September 22 (the entire time the auction is live). You can bet that we’ll be there, as opportunities to see this many vintage Heuers in one sitting is a really rare treat.