One of Heuer's great claims to fame was making watches with a specific purpose in mind. The company had ingrained itself with automobile racing, offering timing instruments to both race organizers and drivers alike. This partnership led to the racing-inspired Heuer Carrera chronograph, named after the Carrera Panamericana, a dangerous endurance race through Mexico. Similarly, the Heuer Autavia was also made with a purpose in mind, the name itself being a portmanteau of Auto and Aviation.
Jack Heuer had a passion for racing in many forms, including yacht racing. Heuer started in the sport by making stopwatches specifically for sailboat racing, and this extended to the first Skipper introduced by Heuer in 1968, the reference 7754 which was essentially a modified Carrera 7753, and has been coined the "Skippererra" by collectors.
The second iteration of the Skipper changed to using an Autavia case, enlarging the specialized 15 minute register for increased visibility, and adding a rotating bezel. This Skipper was given reference 7764, and served as a design blueprint for the future Skipper model.
As the Autavia changed shape with the cushion cased versions of the 1970s, so did the Skipper, being offered in the various cushion-cased Autavia styles as references 1564, and 15640, the focus of this article.
Note: We're excluding the Heuer Regatta in this post which was a watch also offered by Aquastar in partnership with Heuer from the 60s through the 80s. While a functional yachting timer, it was not part of the Skipper family.
The 15640 was the final iteration of the Skipper before Heuer was acquired by Tag, changing the landscape of the company. The Skipper was essentially a modified Autavia, borrowing many of the components from that model from the case and bezel down to the basic layout of the dial.
Mechanically, the Skipper uses a modified version of the automatic caliber 15 movement, found in some Autavias of the period, most notably the rare "exotic" dial versions. The caliber 15 relocates the running seconds register to an offset position above the 9 o'clock marker, with the Skipper branding beneath the register. The modifications come into play with the chronograph, which has been reworked for the oversized regatta timing register designed for the 15 minutes precluding the start of a boat race. The subdial hand advances every 30 seconds to keep timing accurate while sailors could only manage a quick glance at their timer while preparing for a race start.
he 15640 borrows the 11063V case, one of the more dramatic cushion-cased Autavia models. The shape features a more pronounced arch than previous models that fits well on the natural curve of the wrist, and is a bit thicker at 15mm, even with a flat mineral glass crystal. The rotating bezel is retained, in a minutes/hours configuration rather than the tachymeter bezel found on some Autavias.
The case design of the 70s and 80s Autavias has always been a favorite of mine. They are quite chunky but don't wear too large, and have wonderful finishing when you can find an unpolished example. The case tops are finished with a radial sunburst brushing that abruptly stops and is met by these wide, mirror polished chamfers that contrasts the coarse finish on the case surface and gives off a gleam in the right light.
The dial of the 15640 is where the watch really stands out, with that oversized "big eye" regatta register brightly contrasting in white, blue, and red over the rest of the glossy black dial. The hands and hour markers are white with tritium inlays, and the date window is outlined in a polished steel frame.
This last version of the skipper was offered in both a black and blue dial/bezel combination, with both models being quite scarce as production was very limited throughout the Skipper's life with it being such a specialized model. While not impossible to find, excellent examples have become hard to come by as time continues to pass.
The photographs featured in this article are of our very own Skipper, which is currently offered in the store which you can see here. What do you think of the Skipper? Do you have any favorite quirky purpose-built watches of your own? Leave a comment below!
My 105.002 Speedmaster is hands down my favorite watch. It's been through a lot in just a short time, been on my wrist for milestones in my life, and it has one heck of a story behind it.
I was browsing a watch forum in March 2014 when a post popped up about a vintage Speedmaster going up for auction. It was old, beat up, and had only three small photos and essentially no description to go off of other than it was part of the estate of a wealthy California man. I was immediately intrigued and was able to track the watch down to a small auction house in sleepy little Selmer, Tennessee.
I got in touch with the auction house and asked about the watch but there wasn't much to go off, the auction house was a small family-run operation that knew a lot more about antiques than anything else. I registered to bid over the phone for the auction and waited anxiously for the day of the auction, reviewing the photos daily.
I still have those auction house photos, and this was all there was to go on:
All the signature traits of an earlier Speedmaster were there. The straight lug case, DON bezel, spear-tipped chrono hand, double stepped caseback, and Swiss Made only dial. I had no photos of inside the caseback or the movement which was a a huge gamble, but I could tell that those traits along with baton hands meant the watch had to be a 105.002.
The 105.002 was a bridge between model number naming conventions for Omega. The company used four-digit numbering for models through the early 60s, with the first Speedmaster being the 2915 and then the 2998. The 2998 saw a number of evolutions until its final iteration, the 2998-62, all of which had alpha hands. In 1962, Omega revised to the six digit model reference nomenclature, the first Speedmaster being the 105.002-62. Early 105.002s were identical to the 2998-62 in everything except the model number, and later in the run Omega made the switch to the baton hands we still see today. The 105.002 was only produced for one year in 1962, as in 1963 the 105.003 "Ed White" was born. As such, the model is rather rare and an interesting transition in the history of the Speedmaster.
I thought I was going to get a great bargain on this watch since the auction had essentially zero exposure and the average estate auction attendee wasn't going to be familiar with the nuances of vintage Speedmasters. It's just an old, beat up watch with a scratched crystal and missing parts to 99% of the world.
The day had finally come, and I remember pacing outside in my driveway on a sunny late March morning on the phone with an auction house employee on the other end while the lots previous to the Speedy hammered away. The time came and the bidding was lightning fast, catching me off guard at first, and the price climbed pretty quickly. Someone else must have known about the hidden gem because it quickly evolved into a bidding war between myself and another phone bidder. I emerged victorious. I later found out the guy I beat out for the watch was furious, and thought he was only one who knew what it was.
Even though the hammer price was an amazing bargain, the watch was still a gamble, especially with the chance for moisture (and rust) in the movement through the missing pusher hole. Or the movement was missing parts, or maybe even wasn't original. I still hadn't seen it.
It arrived and I was relieved to find the movement was correct and all there. I set out on a hunt to find the right watchmaker to get the job done, so naturally I headed to the Omega Forums and found a member there who was also an enthusiast and knew the proper way to care for and service a vintage 321-powered Speedmaster. I sent him the watch, along with another pre-moon Speedy I owned at the time in April, and was quoted a two month lead time.
Unfortunately, this proved to be a mistake. I was patient for those two months, only checking in once that time had passed for an update. What I received was complete silence. No response for months. I started to get anxious and thought that something had happened, or that this guy had run off with my watches.
I eventually posted on the Omega forums asking if anyone had heard from him lately, and another member local to him got in touch for me and eventually had the watches returned, unserviced and untouched. It had been six months.
After that experience, I honestly just tucked the watch away and was going to wait until I found a watchmaker I trusted to take care of it. I got in touch with Al Archer, but he had a waiting list over a year long.
I ended up finding someone who lived near Houston, Texas to take on the job. After sending him a couple other watches as a trial, I sent my Speedy down in May 2015.
In May 2015, the watch was sent via insured USPS registered mail (a note to those reading: don't ship watches USPS, and not because of this story) to the watchmaker. Well, May 2015 saw historic flooding in Houston. And as luck would have it, my package stopped updating the tracking, with the last update being leaving the Houston distribution center but not arriving anywhere else.
For a week.
Once again, I'm panicking that my watch is gone, floating down a flooded street somewhere in Texas. I went so far as to start looking up other 105.002s for replacement values to justify my insurance claim when the time came, because I thought the watch was gone.
I got a hold of someone at the distribution center for USPS in Houston through some internet detective work, and they ended up thankfully finding my Speedy, and it eventually arrived in one piece.
The service went smooth enough, although the hour hand did lose a small chunk of paint near the base when being re-installed. The movement was complete and incredibly clean despite the missing pusher leaving it open to the elements. The watch received new pushers, gaskets, and a crystal, but all of the key original components remained. I waited patiently while the service took nearly six months, and the watch was finally returned to me in November 2015.
Ever since getting it back, I wear it as often as I can. I see so many collectors that just stuff their expensive vintage watches away, afraid to scratch or damage their "investments" that only get taken out for Instagram pictures.
Watches are meant to be worn. They were used as tools before everyone carried around a supercomputer in their pocket. Every mark or nick just adds to the character that a vintage watch carries with it, and this watch has 55 years of character. I feel connected to this watch because of the hunt for it, my love for Speedmasters and all the servicing nightmares. I remember everything in this article like it was yesterday. I remember events in my life that happened with this watch on my wrist. It's important to me.
Is my 105.002 perfect? Not even close. In fact, it will just get more nicks and scratches.
And that's the way I like it.
If you have a good story about one of your watches, get in touch with us because we'd love to hear your story. If you're after your own vintage Speedmaster, be sure to check out the shop.
Thanks for reading and happy hunting.
Here's a watch that's very seldom seen and most people don't even know exists - the two tone Omega Speedmaster Professional. Marked as reference DD145.022, this two tone Speedmaster was produced in a very short run in the mid 80s. It is not a numbered edition or even believed to be a "limited edition" but was produced in extremely small numbers and as such does not surface often.
The DD145.022 has a unique dial with stepped, polished applied markers with a black insert instead of the standard luminous hour markers on the standard Moonwatch. The dial also has a substantial step, more pronounced than the 145.022-71 and earlier dials, and also closer to the edge. Printed on the lower surface are your standard minute and 1/5 second marks as well as small tritium luminous dots at the end of the hour markers. The subdials are finished in silver which provides a killer contrast to all the gold.
The hands are the standard Speedy shape, except black with exposed gold bases. The example pictured above has all-black service hands as the original configuration is no longer produced by Omega so it's something to keep an eye out for if you're in the market for this reference.
Speaking of no longer produced by Omega, look at that bracelet. If it looks familiar, that's because it is the 1171 bracelet found on the Speedmaster for nearly two decades, but in gold and steel. The gold center links are brushed just like on the steel version which keeps a tool-watch feel and the bling factor down a bit, which is a welcome departure from the vast majority of gold in watches.
The two-tone version of the 1171 is no longer produced and is essentially impossible to find on its own, so if you're on the hunt for this watch make sure it has the bracelet, and make sure it will fit your wrist because spare links are out of the question. Also pay careful attention to the end links, which are also marked 633, the same as the steel version, but are also bi-metal. I've seen examples with replaced all steel end links and it just doesn't look right.
Omega could have really upped the bling factor with a polished bracelet, or even gold pushers or a gold crown, but they kept this model about as reserved as possible for a 1980s two tone watch and it's got a special place in my heart as both a Speedmaster junkie and a lover of oddball watches. If you're looking for a Speedmaster or your next watch, be sure to check out the shop.
HIDDEN GEM: THE SEIKO 6138-3000 JUMBO
What if you could find a watch housing one of the world's first automatic chronographs? What if that automatic chronograph was a completely in-house developed, column wheel, quick-set day AND date, reliable workhorse of a movement?
And lastly, what if said watch was readily available for well under a thousand dollars?
You're either foaming at the mouth or thinking I'm pulling your leg. But this watch exists, and it's manufactured by none other than legendary Seiko.
Seiko debuted the 6139 movement in 1969 along two other legendary movements, the Heuer/Buren Caliber 11 and the Zenith/Movado El Primero. It's still debated who was actually "first" but that's not what we're here for. Shortly after the debut of the 6139, Seiko developed the 21 jewel 6138, which featured two chronograph registers and is housed inside the 6138-300X series of watches. I say 300X because this model came in different flavors, the 6138-3000, 6138-3002, 3003, 3005, 3008, and 3009.
Seiko made a plethora of 6138-powered watches in the 1970s and unfortunately many of them had strange case shapes, dial configurations and colors that really kept them static in the time period. Very few (mainly the -300X series, sometimes called the Jumbo, and the -8020 "Panda) have stood the test of time.
There are really only subtle differences between the -300X models and were often differentiated for different markets throughout the world. The watches came in either a black or rarer "petrol green" dial, and the models have very slightly different case shapes which affects the crystal/bezel assembly and the bracelet end links. There's also a very rare 23 jewel version only produced for one year that collectors should be on the prowl for.
Besides the excellent history and design of the movement inside, why is the 6138-3000 series of watches so underrated? Personally I think (unfounded) Swiss Made snobbery has kept these watches affordable despite being an absolute home run and everything you could look for in a vintage sports chronograph.
The case comes in at 42mm, massive for its time and still a very modern wearable size. It's finished in a mix of polishing and deep, coarse, almost industrial brushing that gives the watch a vintage charm. When looking for one of these references, it's important to find one that has seen minimal polishing as those original lines are easy to turn to mush and completely ruin the look of the case.
The dial is very sporty and fits right in with its contemporaries, but the details really set it apart from many other watches. There is an insane depth to this dial that can really only be appreciated in the flesh. The chronograph subdials are recessed, with sloping rings housing the printed indices. The minute and hour markers are printed on a raised portion of the dial with cutouts around the chronograph totalizers and a substantial step between the surfaces. And even further, the sharper sloping chapter ring marries the dial seamlessly to the case. That's an insane amount of depth and it somehow manages to never be too busy. There's also a small polished applied metal Seiko logo at 9 O'clock, and a simple boast of "Chronograph Automatic" beneath.
The hands are simple, but functional and intuitive. Painted white with black bases for timekeeping, and bright yellow for the chronograph operations. Everything you need, and nothing you don't.
The watch pictured here is one from my personal collection that I've had for the better part of a decade, and ever since discovering this model I've been singing its praises as one of the best values in the vintage watch market, hands down. Good examples can be had for well under $1,000, and even under $500 if you know how to find the right one.
Unfortunately, many of these models were produced which means they were shipped all around the world and many of them have degraded into poor condition or were fitted with aftermarket reproduction parts. Originality is really what makes this watch special, and it's important to find one in good condition to really appreciate it and consider adding one to your watch box.
If you're on the hunt for a Seiko "Jumbo", it's important to keep the following things in mind:
So what are you waiting for? Get hunting for this killer vintage Seiko chronograph and discover one of the best hidden gems in vintage watches.
Leave a comment below and tell us your thoughts on the 6138-300x series, other vintage hidden gems, and be sure to check out the shop for our latest watches.
Today, we're proud to be launching the Luxuwrist blog. Here you'll find anything that comes to our mind. Be on the lookout for collector's tips and insights, reviews, watch care, market commentary, and everything in between.
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