The story of the Heuer Skipper…

I have collected information about the inspiration and origin of this sports watch. The is very little published information and even Jack Heuer could not give me more insight other than confirming (with an old colleague)  that they are produced in small batches of 50 pieces. It was clearly not a mainstream product line like the Carrera and Autavia.

The following is based on the review of the Heuer Skipperera published on PuristsPro by Laurent (noodia) and I thank Laurent for for sharing this with me. I have added to the original body of work to complete the story.

Yachting Stopwatches photocredit: onthedash.com

Yachting Stopwatches
credit: onthedash.com

Heuer starts at the 60s with the production of Stopwatches for sailboat races with the Heuer Yacht Timer Ref 912/X with different register to measure starting times and racing times.

In 1967 the ship “Intrepid” sailed by the Skipper Emil “Bus” Mobacher win the 20th America´s Cup defeating the Australian “Dame Pattie” (more here). They had Heuer chronographs on board.

Intrepid 1967

Intrepid 1967
credit: Tag Heuer

Emil Mobacher credit: Argenta Images

Emil Mosbacher
credit: Argenta Images

The proof of using a Heuer watch for the regattas seems to be the find of an Aquastar Heuer Regate “Intrepid” on eBay in 11/2014. The serial on the back are in line with other known Heuer Aquastars, the main hands may be changed but the seller said: <<According to the person I bought this from: “He confirmed that his father received the watch as a gift from Heuer.  His father was one of the crew members on the trial horse for the Intrepid.  His father was a skipper on the 1967 Constellation.>>

Possibly based on that success and the interest for timekeeping in different kind of sport activities so the Heuer Skipper were produced.

Heuer introduced the first Heuer Skipper in 1968, the 7754 in a Carrera 7753 case.

Catalogprint for the first Heuer Skipper - Carrera Case 7754 aka Skipperera

Catalogprint for the first Heuer Skipper – Carrera Case 7754 aka Skipperera
credit: onthedash.com

This first Heuer Skipper in Carrera case (collectors nickname: Skipperera) is powered by a modified Valjoux 7730 to offer a 15 minute register. The dial is wonderful deep metalic blue, the right register is multicolored to make the 3×5 minute segments of the starting procedure and the sweep hand is bright orange.

The Skipperera Dial credits: noodia

The Skipperera Dial
credit: noodia

Production time of the Heuer Skipperera is estimated 1 year and today there are less then 20 pieces known.

There is just one known historical picture of the founder of Lotus Cars, Colin Chapman with a Skipperera, here with Jochen and Nina Rindt.

Colin Chapman with Skipperera, Jochen and Nina Rindt credit: Djayrom

Colin Chapman with Skipperera, Jochen and Nina Rindt
credit: Rainer W. Schlegelmilch

The main feature of the Heuer Skipper is the 15-minute chronograph recorder with colour coded markings on the recorder that makes it much easier for the yachtsman to read. At the first signal all the boats of the regatta muster in an area behind the starting line, sailing around in small circles. The skipper of the boat needs a tactical plan depending on the wind to be heading for the start line and ultimatly crossing it with the signal to start the race. That is the real skill, not to waste length and pace in the race.

The Heuer Skipper was produced until the mid of the 80s with different cases from the Heuer Autavia.

The second execution that came after the Skipperera was the Heuer Skipper in the Heuer Autavia 2446 snap-back case with reference 7764.

Heuer Skipper 7764 in 2446 Autavia Case credit: onthedash.com

Heuer Skipper 7764 in 2446 Autavia Case
credit: onthedash.com

The right subdial is bigger then the left and so the dial has an asymmetrical look. It usually comes with the MH bezel (Minute Hour).

Heuer Skipper 7764 in Autavia 2446 Case credit: noodia

Heuer Skipper 7764 in Autavia 2446 Case
credit: noodia

After the first execution Heuer Skipper in the carrera case, all further executions came in the Autavia case contemporary for its time. This trend started with the manual wind 7764 (7763 case) compression case, and was followed by the manual wind 73464 (73463 case) and then the automatics 1564 (1163V case),  the early 15640 (15630 case) and finally the last execution Heuer Skipper 15640 (11063V case). Note that the referce numbers in brackets are the Autavia case references that were used for the Skipper. Heuer did not produce a unique batch of cases for the Heuer Skippers but „borrowed“ Autavia cases for the production.

As discussed elsewhere production was in small batches so dial variations are also found. The early 15640 can be found with both a blue and a black dial. The last example made also had the black dial.

As with many of the stories and history of the vintage Heuer products there are always anomolies. In the early 1970’s Heuer produced a low cost product range known as the Leonidas Easy-Rider and it so happened that they made a  Skipper version of this watch. The cost at the time was around $50 and this range was produced to compete with the cheaper Japanes quartz-watches. It came on the Leonidas label to protect the Heuer name. Leonidas was bought by Heuer in the earlier 60s.

Informations to be continued… stay tuned!

 

See all editions in the gallery.

 

 


For people wants to know all details:

Here are the results for “Intrepid” at the America´s Cup Race 1967

When Intrepid was launched it was a big surprise for all.
As with the 1937 Ranger performance, Intrepid dominated all the other defense candidates, Constellation, American Eagle and Columbia, and lost only one race, becoming the undisputed 1967 America’s Cup defender.

America’s Cup races: September 12 to 18, 1967 in Newport, Rhode Island –
Best four out of seven races.
Dame Pattie vs. Intrepid

America’s Cup Course:
Olympic Course – total distance: 24.3 miles – Start at a buoy anchored 7 miles, SSE (magnetic) towards the Brenton Reef Light Tower.
First leg is directly into the wind (windward leg). Second leg is a reaching leg as the third one, fourth leg to windward, fifth leg is a running leg, then the sixth and last leg is a windward one to the finish.

Races: four sailed.

Results:

Intrepid beat Dame Pattie by four wins to nil.

– September 12, first race. Wind at start: E by N ¼ N, 18 knots. Wind at finish: E by N ¼ N, 15 knots. Intrepid beat Dame Pattie by 5 minutes 58 sec.
– September 13, second race. Wind at start: E by N ¼ N, 7 knots. Wind at finish: E by N ¼ N, 11-14 knots. . Intrepid beat Dame Pattie by 3 minutes 36 sec.
– September 14, third race. Wind at start: NE by E, 12 knots. Wind at finish: NE ½ E, 16 knots. . Intrepid beat Dame Pattie by 4 minutes 41 sec.
– September 18, fourth race. Wind at start: SW, 12 knots. Wind at finish: SW by W, 8 knots. . Intrepid beat Dame Pattie by 3 minutes 35 sec.

In 1967, Intrepid crushed Dame Pattie.