The 1970s

The 1970s stands as probably the most dynamic and disruptive decade in Heuer’s history. It was a decade that saw the wider roll out of Heuer’s Chronomatic mechanical movement, as well as the decade where electronic watches went from high-tech premium positioning to low-cost commodity. While the walls began to close in on the traditional Swiss watch industry, Heuer responded by launching some of its boldest watches and by forging pioneering relationships with sponsorship in Formula 1.

1975-Lauda MCHeuer’s relationship with Ferrari began in 1971 and led to Heuer’s shield being added to the nose of the Scuderia’s Formula 1 cars. In exchange, Heuer provided timing equipment and gave a Solid Gold Carrera 1158 to each Ferrari driver, with the drivers name and blood type engraved on the back.

These watches confirmed the link between the Carrera and motor racing which continues today.

The Carrera was at its highest point in the mid-1970s, with Generation 2 and 3 watches being on sale simultaneously, with a variety of automatic and manual-wind movements being offered.

IMG_2498As the decade drew to a close, so too did production of Heuer’s mechanical movements- victims of the price war with the quartz movements. Heuer was an early pioneer in quartz, offering both battery-powered analogue Carreras and a combination analogue-digital Carrera Twin Time.

Third Generation: 1974- 1978

Heuer Carrera_1970s

The third generation Carreras are known as the “Barrel” case Carreras, due to the stout design of the Case. Offered with either a Calibre 12 or Calibre 15 movement, the Blue, Gold and “Fume” versions had a distinctive Cotes de Geneve dial.

The Barrel Carrera is a significant departure from the refined and pretty styling of the original Carrera and could be from no decade other than the 1970s.

Fourth Generation: 1978- 1981

Heuer Carrera_quartzHeuer was a pioneer in electronic watches, with the 1975 Microsplit, and launched a range of quartz-powered Carreras in the late 1970s. While the design of the 4th generation was relatively conservative (borrowing the case of the 2nd Generation models), they were the first Carrera to be a conventional 3-hand watch rather than being a Chronograph.

Heuer did offer a quartz Chronograph, but this was a combination analogue-digital watch.

Three of the Best from the 1970s

1553N Calibre 15

1553 Carrera

The first of the Calibre 15 Carreras appeared in 1972 with a brilliant blue dial featuring a broad silver panel running from the 3 o’clock sub-dial to the 9 o’clock position.

The Calibre 15 also introduced the “rifle-target” running seconds design that TAG Heuer reintroduced for the 2010 Carrera 1887.



A beautiful solid Yellow Gold case, this Calibre 12 Carrera which was the watch worn by Ferrari Formula 1 drivers.

Available either with a “Champagne” or Silver dial, the 1158 Carrera is among the most coveted today and commands premium prices.

110.573 F Barrel

Heuer Carrera Barrel

It’s the Cotes de Geneve pattern on the dial that is the calling card of the Barrel Carrera, giving the watch what appears to be a striped dial. A Brown dial with Orange hands? Of course.

The Barrel case is beautifully finished with an applied sunburst pattern.

Influence / Movement

All about colour

Colour Blocks

“The 1970s watches are all about colour- bright blues contrasted with white and red, gold watches with gold dials and even traditional silver dials had splashes of contrasting colours. Bright. Bold. Very 1970s.”

From Chronomatic to Quartz

Calibre 12 with chronograph

The original Chronomatic movement was quickly upgraded, with new Calibre 12 and low-cost Calibre 15 variants added, as well as the manual wind Valjoux 7733, 7736 and 7734 (all descendent of  the Venus 188) movements

The quartz movements were supplied by ESA, which was later re-named ETA. In addition to consuming ESA, Valjoux was also part of the ETA empire.

All Photos courtesy of TAG Heuer, except as noted:

– Manual Carrera dial: Abel Court