Timeline Watch
1972

Heuer stopwatch Yacht Timer

President Nixon makes unprecedented eight-day visit to Communist China and meets with Mao Zedong

1972 Heuer Yacht Timer wrist stopwatch ref. 503.512.

52.5mm. base metal case, manual wind cal. 7710, white dial with outer blue Arabic numeral seconds countdown track, multi-colored countdown inner minute scale.

Yacht timers are also known as yachting chronographs, sailing watchers or regatta timers and they were designed for the countdown before the start of a sailing race. The start of a regatta is quite different from a race on the ground: the sailboats are positioned before the starting buoy and when the gun goes off, the countdown begins and the competing boats cross the start line 15 minutes later. So, yacht timers are used on the countdown and they also denote the remaining time of the race.

It all started in 1860, with Edouard Heuer setting up a workshop in Bernese, a predominantly French-speaking area of Switzerland close to the French border, a small town even now with a population under 5000. However, it is no stranger to watch companies, having also been where Breitling was founded and having been home to Longines. Of course those companies were artisan workshops producing small numbers of mostly silver-cased pocket watches.

In 1914 Heuer made the first wristwatch for men, they used pocket-watch movements and reflected demand for wristwatches that would only increase during the First World War and after.

1920 was the first time in 12 years that an Olympic Games had been held, following the cancellations of the 1912 Stockholm and 1916 Berlin events. Heuer had some prominence as a sports timing company by this point and was pleased to be selected as the official timer of the Antwerp games. This was subsequently extended to the 1924 games in Paris and 1928 in Amsterdam: this cemented the brand marriage between timing and sports.

For todays collectors, the heyday for Heuer really began in the mid-1930s. I think that’s also probably true for many other brands. Heuer began making pilots chronographs in 35. These were used by Air Force pilots primarily, a lot of them in the German Air Force. For most Heuer collectors, these pilot chronographs from around 1935 are the first real survivors that regularly can be found in the market today.

In the 1960s and 1970s, no brand was more prominent in motorsports timing than Heuer.