Poor Man's Heuers

Found: These Vintage Watches Are Like Costco’s Store-Brand Liquor


June 2, 2017 Watches By

Costco hasn’t confirmed it, but there are lingering rumors that its generic, low-cost Kirkland-branded liquors are actually made by brands like Grey Goose and McCallan, and in part, this is why Costco’s liquor has something of a cult-like loyalty amongst “people in the know.” The jury is still out on whether or not that’s true, but in the watch world there is, or rather was, a similar phenomenon: “poor man’s Heuers.”

During the ’60s and ’70s a variety of retailers and small brands were selling chronographs that were either made by Heuer — whose chronographs were incredibly popular at the time — or used some of the same parts but weren’t branded as such. Like Kirkland liquor, they have their own cult followings, as they’re generally less expensive than their “real” Heuer equivalents. Given that vintage Heuers are ever-increasing in value, these poor man’s Heuers are fantastic alternatives for collectors on a budget.

Le Jour Valjoux 7750 ‘Pasadena’

What we like: During the ’70s and ’80s, Heuer made a variety of larger, PVD-black chronographs that never resonated particularly well with consumers then, but are sought after now. The Pasadena was one such watch, and though an actual Heuer-branded Pasadena is fairly hard to find, the Le Jour version of the watch, which is nearly identical, is a relatively common find. The seller of this watch indicates it’s in need of a service, but given the watch is powered by the ubiquitous Valjoux 7750, it shouldn’t be too difficult or expensive.
From the seller: Watch runs 3 minutes fast per day. Chrono sec/min/hour hands do not line up perfectly. It could definitely stand to be serviced.

Benrus Ref. 73463 ‘Dato Autavia’

What we like: Benrus is probably best known for the watches it made during WWII, but it appears it sold a few Heuer-made chronographs as well. According to Wanna Buy a Watch, this Benrus case has the same reference number as the equivalent Heuer Autavia, is powered by a Valjoux 7734 movement (the same as the Autavaia) and has a dial and hands that look identical to the “Orange Boy” Heuer Autavia.
From the seller: The watch is in good operating condition, keeping good time, and with chronograph functions working properly and returning to zero. But we have not serviced the watch.

Zodiac Triple Register ‘Carrera’

What we like: Zodiac sold a number of Heuer-esque chronographs, many of which were related to the Carrera. This one, according to Analog/Shift, “is nearly indistinguishable to its Carrera cousins.” Inside ticks a Valjoux 7736, and the black-and-white “reverse-panda” dial scheme is absolutely classic.
From the seller: Stainless steel case is in very good condition with no signs of over-polishing and only minimal signs of use and wear. Dial is in very good condition with fine, even patina to the luminescent elements of the hour markers and hands.

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