My Heuer Carrera 2447S
Fantasies of a watch hunter
I prefer my watches come directly from original owners, a member of their family or found in the wild (like a pawn shop or estate sale). Basically, just not through a dealer. I crave the challenge and drama that often comes with a barn find - or as I like to say - a drawer find. I know someday I'll turn to a dealer for help. Like when I'm ready for a Patek...
Because I'm adamant and addicted to searching and chasing watches, there's a number of scenarios I dream about... Situations I hope play out (ultimately in my favor) to acquire a watch. One of those opportunities is spotting a watch on someone's wrist, in public, and then proceeding to strike up a conversation and buying it off their wrist (yet to happen).
Another chance occurrence I've dreamt of is spotting a great watch lumped in a junkie watch lot. This would be akin to finding a gem slumming in the dollar bin at a thrift store. Who doesn't want to find something this way.
Resigning to find watches this way means I never what my next watch will be - or when I'll get one... That's O.K. I'm perfectly content wearing the watches I have in the meantime. When I do get a hit on great watch, the thrill I get from trying to reel it in is worth the wait.
When I look at my vintage watches, I love what I see. But even more, I think about the how lucky I am to own them... Although I believe in the saying luck favors the prepared/bold...
Below is the story behind my latest find. I recounting of the events, the decision-making and emotions, which come with hunting old watches.
Monday, June 4th, 8:34 AM
Mondays my son and I hang out. Our morning started out pretty typical - bottle of milk, cup of Cheerios, racing to the window every time we hear a garbage truck in the alley (he's 15 months old). I think we had come in from being outside on the back deck - probably spying on the garbage man. I checked my phone, which was charging on the kitchen counter. I saw a text message from someone - they had watches to sell...
I employ a variety of methods to get leads on watches. (like advertising on my website that I buy old watches). Most of the time I end up replying back with something like, "Thanks for your note, but unfortunately your watch isn't quite what I'm after. Please keep me in mind if you come across any old watches..."
This latest message was destined for the same gentle let down. The first watch was TIME magazine-branded (not exactly Tiffany & Co.). I swiped my iPhone screen while my son swiped alphabet magnets off the fridge. I saw more of the same. Watches with quartz hearts and gold-plated cases - the likes of ... All shot in the dark on a shellacked coffee table.
But then I saw it. "No f@$%in' way." It was the second to last photo. I instantly recognized the three button silhouette. Those long lugs. My thumb came to a screeching halt. It didn't matter that the camera flash washed out the dial. It was at least a reissue - a sweet find. At this point I lost all track of my son. He could've been eating dirt from a plant pot.
I've always admired Carreras from afar - actually from not too far away. My closest watch friends Rob @bazamu, Andrew @t_swiss_t and Justin @justinvrakas all have amazing Carreras and stories about finding them. Before me was my chance to own, to experience what Rob, and many, call, "the best sports chronograph ever made."
As I zoomed into the blinding glare I could tell this wasn't a beat up '90s reissue, it was a survivor '60s icon. All you really had to do was look at the strap to know it was fifty years old. The "rally" style strap was full of "cheese" as a good buddy of mine Greg @agedpatina likes to call grime and sweat often accompanying ....
Of course, I've learned not to get too excited - count my chickens before they hatch. The race had just begun and any number of obstacles could wreck the ... My mindset is always, "if it works out great, if not, I won't be devastated." It's just a watch at the end the of the day. But this was a Heuer Carrera - I had to get it...
I managed to resist the temptation to text right back. Instead text Rob, Andrew and Justin the photo. Hey boys, look what I found :)
It takes a village to raise a child and it takes your most-trusted watch friends to assist bringing a watch like this home. Not that I doubt my abilities, but it's nice to have extra eyes on the seeming prize. Their expertise trying to identifying details, assess originality, pointing out potential issues, advisement how to engage the seller and close deal are always welcomed. I'm glad to have these 3 in my pit crew - helping me, cheering for me. But I was the one driving - it would fall on me to take the checkered flag .. or in this case what looked like an original, unpolished 2447S
The first lap...
After conferring with my Carrera confidants, I replied back simply that I was interested in his watches and asked for photos of them taken outside (hoping for a better shot the Carrera's dial). I also asked where he was located (you can never assume based on an area code). He replied back quickly that yes he could take pics. And he was in Indiana (a state I could drive to - today!). Now came the waiting game... I wanted to see another pic. Then I'd be ready to get on the phone and see if we could make a deal.
I didn't expect him to drop everything and fire back a new round of pics. So how did I pass the time? Oh right, I have a son around here somewhere... we had some real breakfast, eggs, then hit the couch for some You Tube ABC's and reading
At least an hour had gone by and still no updated pics. I have a strong sense I'm the only one he's messaged. I just need to be patient. But as I'm making animal sounds, I can't help but make mental plans how I'm gonna orchestrate getting this watch - TODAY. Why does it have to be today? Let's just say opportunities like this don't come around ...
Of course there's one small catch - the small person on my lap... What kind of dad would I be strapping him into carseat for a six hour road trip to meet a complete stranger. The other small problem... my wife has the car. Still, I'm not deterred. For a second I'm contemplating who can watch my son this afternoon. And how I'm gonna explain all this to my wife - that I need her to come home during her lunch break so... not that she doesn't expect calls like this. "Ugh babe I found this watch and I need to get it. Can you come home for lunch..."
The fact that I haven't seen another pic, haven't talked to the seller, don't know if he can meet today, haven't talked price doesn't stop me from thinking I'm getting my first Carrera today.
As I'm reading "Dragons Love Tacos" (or was it Curious George and the Donut Delivery?) my phone vibrates. It has to be the pics... It is! My thumb ... for the shot of the Heuer. Come on! Somehow it's worse than the initial. The picture was taken on a trash bin under direct sunlight. I text it to Rob, Andrew and Justin. We can't make out new details. The case looked better. But the dial - it was anyone's guess. Is it silver? Or perhaps eggshell, which is Rob's guess. Is it damaged? Is there any lume left? So many questions remained unanswered. It was time to get on the phone...
I called the seller and was greeted by a voice younger than I expected on the other line. First thing I said was I apologize if he hears a baby making Terydactal sounds in the background. Next I asked about the watches. Like how did he get them... I learned his dad passed away and among the personal effects left to him were these watches - watches his dad inherited from his dad (Grandpa). In the end he had no use for the watches, he'd rather have the cash.
Before I knew it, we were making arrangements to meet, even before we came to terms on a price for the lot. About the rendezvous, it couldn't have worked out more perfect. I really didn't want to cut my day short with my son (to get a watch). We have a playground to go to and neighborhood puppies to pet). Turns out he worked third shift, so wouldn't be heading into work until 11pm. This timeframe meant my wife could finish her workday, come home like normal, and watch our son. Allowing me to leave the house around 5:30pm and arriving at our meeting place about 3 hours later - enough time to complete the deal and for the seller to not be late for work. Everything was falling into place. We just needed to talk price...
I asked him how much he wanted for them all. He turned the question around and asked how much would I pay... I had a number in mind, made my offer, and he said something like, "yeah I can do it for that..."
Soon after he text me the address of a Starbucks near his job.
Mama's home from work. Time to kiss the fam goodbye and head out! I'm three hours from getting my first Heuer (although I have idea what exactly I'm getting).
Once I'm settled into the driver's seat of our Su-baby-ru, I texted the seller that I was en route and gave him my ETA. The whole way there my mind is racing. I was imagining what it would look like in person. Remember, making the arragements, making my offer was based on what I saw, which wasn't much. I could see enough to make an offer taking the best case and worst case into account. I wasn't setting my expectations too high. I was totally prepared for a silver, sunburst dial with decayed, dark green lume. I really hoped the dial wasn't ... hoping not a flip I wanted it to be a keeper.
9:16 PM EST
I've been tolerating FM Radio for over two hours, constantly scanning for stations playing a decent tune or that even come in (much of the haul I'm surrounded by farmland and wind turbines). The sun has set and it's about to get real. I text the seller that I'm on schedule. Google Maps says I'm an hour away from the Starbucks. He's texts back to let him know he's on his way there now.
Pretty soon they'll be no camera flash between me and this Heuer. I'll see it for myself. The wonder and mystery of the past twelve hours will become reality.
As I'm exiting the Interstate I call my wife to find out if our son is knocked out or bouncing off the walls. Really I call her to be on the lookout for a text shortly - that everything went fine. This isn't my first rodeo meeting someone at a Starbucks to exchange an envelope of cash for a watches.
10:20 PM EST
I've come to a red light, my left blinker is on, I'm waiting for the light to turn green... When it does I turn left and aim the family Outback for a Starbucks in the corner of a strip mall. I'm looking for tan Ford Escort. I don't see it...
I park the car and look in my rear view mirror. The little hatchback isn't jumping out at me, so I call. The seller picks up and says he saw me pull into the lot. Next thing I know I'm grabbing my satchel from the passenger seat and shaking the hand of a guy in his late twenties/early thirties wearing an orange, mesh safety vest. I make small talk as we head into the Starbucks.
The door is locked - closed. With no table to sit down at, where do we turn... the hood of his car. That's where it happened. He pulled out a dusty Ziploc bag with the six watches clanging together inside. He proceeded to sprawl them out, showing me that each watch was there - just like in the pictures. Of course I was interested in only one. When the Heuer first came out it was caseback up, so I still couldn't see the dial... Then he flipped it and I laid eyes on it in the metal. This time the light shining on it was from the light pole directly overhead.
In the ambiance of the lamp I saw what the harsh flash and sun concealed - a dial that was good. Now I didn't hold it close (or dare pull out a loupe) to examine the lume or anything. My next move was hand over the dough, bag everything up as he counted it and get ready to B line to my car.
In the car, with the doors locked, is where I first really looked at it. I texted Rob, Andrew and Justin, "Damn it looks amazing, Yellow lume!"
Next stop was McDonald's across the street for some betting lighting to take quick pics (and a Crispy Chicken Sandwich and Fries). While in the parking lot, I played with it a little. I wound the crown gently. After hearing and feeling a few smooth micro clicks the sub dial seconds hand came to life. Next I pulled the crown and set the time. Then I tried the chronograph... The start/stop pusher actuated crisply and the chrono second hand sprang into action and stopped on a dime ...
11:19 PM EST
I just filled up my tank and about to start the drive home. After literally ripping that decayed rally strap off right off the spring bars, I'm wearing it on a black nato. I can't take my eyes off it under the florescent lights at the pump. My phone is vibrating like crazy as the boys chime in on my find (I'm glad I could provide them some entertainment for the evening - It's a Monday night after all).
Of all the chatter that went back and forth between the four of us that night, what best were their words of congratulations to me. Watches have...
Rob: "Damn man, that's an unbelievable example. Insane. It's a keeper."
Andrew: "Looks amazing dude!!"
Justin: "Sick. Looks completely unpolished and all original. So happy you got a Carrera"
1:33 AM (CST)
I'm finally home (and my luck continues as I actually find street parking next to our place). The trek back was mostly pitch black, so I couldn't ogle my Heuer the whole way home. I did however glance from time to time to check the time. And each time I searched out that curved minute hand, it was dead on to the time my iPhone said. I had a beauty and it was working! Well almost... The only issue I encountered so far was when it came to reseting the chronograph. The minute and hour sundials would reset, but not with one press - and not always to zero. And the chrono sweep second hand didn't fly back to zero at all. Not the end of the world. I'd get to the bottom of this with the help of Justin ...
When I woke up in the morning I grabbed my Heuer and took it out to the back deck. As any WIS knows, natural light is best to check out and appreciate a watch. Even through a heavily scratched crystal, I could see the dial was 99.5% flawless. Only three tiny specs of debris need to be dabbed off (lume?, dust?). The biggest "flaw" is some missing lume in minute hand (which I'm planning to leave that way).
Despite the wonky chrono, and partially flaked-out minute hand, there was no debate my watch was a gem... The debate that raged on was whether my dial is silver or "eggshell." I think the main reason it's up for debate is the dial has no "sunburst" pattern. It's more matte/semi-gloss. I think most silver dials have a distinct sunburst pattern. That's why several commenters proclaimed it an eggshell (also depending on how the picture is taken it can look more white than silver). I believe it's a silver dial.
I'll say this, I have a lot to learn about vintage Carreras. And now that I own one, you best believe I'll be studying up! What I do know is that the very first three-register Carreras had eggshell dials (I highly recommend reading Eric Wind's article on Hodinkee...). The serial numbers on these early examples are in the low 50XXX range putting production around 1963. Also, the dials were stamped only "SWISS" in the hour totalizer subdial. In my very limited research, I've found out ...
I've only worn my Carrera once since getting it. Why? Well let's just saying I became a little paranoid... You see I haven't done anything to it at this point. No Polywatch, no chiseling dirt and sweat off the case. I kinda enjoying the state its in... which includes of haven't been wearing - why. haven't done anything to - why? go see Justin
probably serviced once
wrist ready until .. issues addressed.