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Something to think about.......

Started by Ultra-Vintage, February 23, 2014, 04:14:07 PM


Like other Zodiac watch collectors I get tired of hearing people spout the supposed truths of unknowledgeable watch experts.  Heuer this, and Heuer that.  The Zodiac is a "Poor Man's Heuer".  Nonsense, that is based on nothing more than one idiot's opinion.  Heuer did not make Zodiac, and similar styles are irrelevant considering how the Swiss copy each other and use outside companies to make cases, dials and movements.  Out of curiosity, I did some searching online to try and find some ACTUAL TRUTH based opposition to their incorrect beliefs.  I found something pretty interesting.

This is a short synopsis, but the Heuer information/ads to verify this can be found all over the internet.

In late 1971/early 1972, Heuer's American watch sales were going down the tubes.  They had a steadily increasing U.S.  business in the years previous, but by 1971 they posted a loss of $154,000.  At that time, their chronographs sold for between $185 - $220.  To help them from sliding over the cliff, they teamed up with Brown and Williamson (in an effort to help each other as B&W were facing sales issues too with the smoking link to cancer and recent tv anti-smoking ads) to offer a promotional campaign.  This cross-promotional campaign advertised Viceroy cigarettes, and allowed you to buy a Heuer Viceroy chronograph.  The Viceroy chronograph had their highly touted mini-rotor automatic movement and was sold through retailers at the time for $200.  Through the ad, these watches could be bought for $88 and a Viceroy carton end flap each.  So, Heuer's regular prices were $185 -$220, but they were so desperate that they were pouring out models for $88 each?  Especially one housing their top movement at the time?

At the same time Zodiac had a very wide range of chronograph options.  Looking at the 1971 catalogs (on the site that you should all already be a member of) Zodiac offered 15 different chronograph models.  To me, that sounds like a lot for one model year.  Maybe even more than Heuer offered at the same time, but someone else would have to either confirm or deny that.  Some of those chronographs were less expensive, having Valjoux 7733 and 7734 movements, but the chronographs having nicer movements like the 72 and 72C were priced at $175 to $195.  Heuer's best were $220 and Zodiac's were $195.  That is a monumental difference?  Definitely not.  Additionally, I don't think that Zodiac had to bargain basement theirs for $88 in an attempt to save themselves from the glue factory........

So.......Poor Man's Heuer huh.......I think not.  Please, the next time you hear someone refer to a Zodiac as that, do us all a favor and punch them in the face.



I have this friend who says, "If you read it on the Internet is MUST be true.". Oh, that was you UV, sorry.

I have never seen any evidence from Zodiac that anyone else made any chrono's for them. And given the documentation around their huge factory, I have always discounted this as some clown with a website saying something that they THINK to be true. An ASSumption, as it were.

What DO we know about this? Well, from the catalogs on we find that:

- Zodiac had chrono's in the earliest 1952 catalog, and in most every other catalog after that, including 8 models in the 1975 catalog.

- We also know that Zodiac made the Clebar brand exclusively for Trauner and Sons, the North America Dist. for Zodiac.

- We also know that the Clebar catalogs showed multiple chronographs throughout the years as well.

Let me ask you this, if Heuer was so great, why were they bought by TAG? I wonder what that history was? WAIT a minute! This is not the TAG forum, there is another guy that does that!
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JDS (Ohio)

I think Ultra-Vintage might be referring to a couple older chronographs listed as "poor man's Autavia" or "poor man's Heuer" on ebay.  The model I saw did look very Heuer-esque, but I don't remember if the seller claimed it was made by Heuer forZodiac or not.

I can see that someone might be ready to believe the Heuer connection too, based on the styling similarities of the 1990s Zodiac Red Point and Silver Point divers to TAG models of a few years before.  A jeweler who was showing me one even told me that it was essentially a more affordable TAG.  Of course jewelry store salesmen are also like the internet right?  They would never tell you something inaccurate or untrue.   Considering that Monnier had been at TAG before buying Zodiac, I can now understand why those similarities existed, but didn't know that then.

That said, I still like the fact that pre-2000 Zodiacs, even if some models shared styling DNA with some TAGs, usually have their own unique look and feel.  For instance, it'd be hard to claim the Astrographic was a down market copy of anything. 

Come to think of it, there is an Astrographic shaped hole in my collection, maybe I should start looking ...


Quote from: JDS (Ohio) on February 27, 2014, 04:53:41 PM
Come to think of it, there is an Astrographic shaped hole in my collection, maybe I should start looking ...

Wait for it.... BWG promised me it would be back next week. Start counting you pennies.
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Hmmmm. I was just perusing eBay and thought occurred to me. If HEUER made all the chronographs for everyone else, does that mean that the Omega Chronos were made by Heuer as well?

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UV, you are vindicated! The Zodiacs and Clebars were NOT made by Heuer; they were made by Breitling!

OMG, I just love how all these "watch experts" do their research. Makes me look longingly at the wife's Hummels.
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It makes sense, Breitling is easy a close second to the watch gods at Heuer.  I love how they have that listed, especially their timing photo.  I would like to see that chrono be within half a second in a month.  So, not only do they know the true "secret" history of the Zodiac company, they can magically make a watch of that vintage tell better time than a new Rolex.  I bow to them......

jon p

brietling cronos were WAKMANN back in the day.


Quote from: jon p on March 03, 2014, 01:23:52 PM
brietling cronos were WAKMANN back in the day.

And Venus.

Rick "seeing lots of vintage Navitimers with Venus 175 movements" Denney


So according to this-221398152320

Ultra rare VISCONT SUPERSUB  vintage diver watch in working condition.The watch runs,date changed correct.The indexes glowes in the dark like new.Bezel turns heavy.Same model was produced by Zenith,Blancpain,Nivada,Droz,Zodiac and others.The diameter is 43mm without is screw crown.The watch is untouched and original.If you want buy it now let me know.Privat auction without warranty,return or refund.

At least Heuer didn't get a guernsey, although a few others did!

To add my two bobs worth, there was a fair amount of interchange of components back through the 50's and 60's...for instance Squale made cases for a huge number of smaller watchmakers, and in fact insisted their logo was on the dial alongside the makers name. So it wouldn't surprise if there was an interchange, after all in a lot of cases it only required a run of a different dial.



Thank you very much for your expert opinion. I really appreciate this information and agree 100% that Zodiac would not need Heuer to make their watches for them. I accidentally found that "other" site yesterday while surfing the net and browsed through the discussions about "poor man's Heuer's." I noted that the posters were quite vociferous in their demands that you accept their reasoning that if it looks like a Heuer then Heuer made it. I saw no shred of proof presented. I won't be joining that site.

Thanks again for the info.
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