For some years, there have been rumors that Bo Derek wore a Heuer dive watch, and now OnTheDash is happy to share the story and some photos.

We begin with a profile of Bo Derek, then describe how Jack Heuer (then CEO of Heuer) received a special photo of her, and close with information about the Heuer dive watch that she wore in some famous photos.

Bo Derek – The Perfect 10

Bo Derek was born “Mary Cathleen Collins” in 1956, in Long Beach California. At age 16, she began a romantic relationship with Hollywood director John Derek (who was then 46 years old), and the couple soon moved to Germany. They were married when she was 19 and she came to be known professionally as “Bo Derek”, an amalgam of her former stage name “Bo Shane” and the name of her husband.

In 1979, at age 22, Bo Derek starred with Dudley Moore in the romantic comedy 10. In the movie, 42 year-old George Webber (Dudley Moore) and his girlfriend Samantha Taylor (Julie Andrews) vacation in Mexico, but he finds himself attracted to the younger Jenny Hanley (Bo Derek), who he imagines to be the perfect woman (i.e., the “perfect 10”).

In the movie’s most well-known scene, in a dream sequence, Derek runs on the beach toward Moore; she has her hair in cornrows and is wearing a tight-fitting, nude-colored, one-piece swimsuit, while he is wearing his customary gray sweat suit. The movie 10 was released in October 1979, and was a box office success, being one of the top grossing films of the year.

Although she was on the screen for less than 10 minutes, with the release of the movie 10, Bo Derek instantly became a global sex symbol, the first pin-up girl of the 1980s. She appeared in Playboy magazine in March 1980, photographed by her husband John, and she was also featured in the magazine in 1981, 1984 and 1994.

After the success of 10, Bo Derek would later have roles in additional films directed by her husband, John Derek — “Tarzan, the Ape Man” (1981), “Bolero” (1984) and “Ghosts Can’t Do It” (1989). Bo and John Derek remained together until John Derek died in 1998, at age 71.

A Christmas Card to Remember

Jack Heuer tells the story:

“I met Bo Derek’s father, Paul Collins in 1979, at Hobert “Hobie” Alter’s home in Southern California. Hobie Alter was the inventor of the “Hobie Cat” catamaran, and Paul was working for him at the time.

After the meeting, Paul kindly offered to drive me back to the Los Angeles Airport, and during the long drive we got to know each other much better. At the airport he asked me if I could get him one of our Ladies Heuer skindiving watches, which he wanted to give his daughter as a present for her 23rd birthday.

I sent him shortly thereafter from our office in New Jersey a catalog and he chose the smallest model we made, which I delivered him as promised with a nice discount in the fall of 1979.

Shortly before Christmas, I received from Paul a Christmas card thanking me for the favor. Enclosed with the Christmas card was a color slide of Bo Derek — wearing only our watch!  I later learnt that John Derek had taken the photos of his wife at Lake Powell in Utah where they had gone camping for a week to escape the paparazzi camped outside their home in Los Angeles. We could not use these pictures publicly but we displayed them discretely at our stand at the 1980 Basel Watch Fair – much to the delight of our male clients, many of whom asked for copies.”

In the photograph that Paul Collins sent to Jack Heuer with the Christmas card, Bo Derek is wearing the same Heuer dive watch that she would wear in the March 1980 photo-shoot for Playboy magazine, described above.

In an 2013 interview with Watchonista, Bo Derek described the background of this photo shoot:

“1979 was a big year for me. It was the year my first major film “10” was made. And my life–because of the huge success of the film–would never be the same. Suddenly, having paparazzi camped outside my door was such a disruption that my husband, and I decided to skip town. John Derek was considered one of the best photographers of women and we ended up in Lake Powell, Utah for our own photo shoot. We camped on the lake for 7 days with only two sleeping bags, a 14’ speedboat, a 16’ Hobie Cat and three dogs. I wore a leather bikini that he made for me and my Aquaracer watch with a lovely soft, chamois watchband with beads that he crafted to match the bikini. The photos from that trip would later be on the covers of magazines around the world.”

Bo Derek’s Dive Watch — Heuer Reference 756

As described in our posting, TAG Heuer Dive Watches – The Oldest, the Newest and 25 of the Years in Between, after producing chronographs and stopwatches for over 100 years, Heuer introduced its first dive watches in 1978. Two of the “launch models” were the Reference 844, a 42 millimeter watch (shown below, on the left) and the Reference 756, a 28 millimeter watch (shown below, on the right).  Bo Derek’s dive watch is the Reference 756.

Heuer’s early dive watches were made in France by G. Monnin, a contract manufacturer that made watches for several other brands.  Monnin was based in Charquemont, France, close to the Swiss border (and its watchmaking region) and located only 25 kilometers from TAG Heuer’s current headquarters, in La Chaux-de-Fonds.

The movements on Heuer’s early dive watches were also French made, with the automatic FE 4611A being made by France Ebauches, at the time the largest French manufacturer of ebauche movements. Cases for Heuer’s first dive watches were supplied by MRP SA, a Swiss company that held the patent for the ratcheted, unidirectional rotating bezel used in the Reference 844.  MRP supplied cases to many manufacturers of dive watches, and remains in business to this day.

Heuer’s first dive watches met with good success, and by 1980 Heuer had moved production of the watches from France to Switzerland.  This second generation of Heuer dive watches is marked with the familiar “Swiss Made” text on the dial.

The Reference 756 is an automatic dive watch, with a distinctive red / black unidirectional bezel, marked in minutes.  Once production of the Reference 756 dive watch had moved to Switzerland, Heuer began using the ETA Calibre 2671, a small movement (7-3/4 ligne) that was popular for women’s automatic watches.  The Reference 756 watch measures 28 millimeters across the dial, with a thickness of 11.5 millimeters, and a lug-to-lug measurement of 35 millimeters.  The Reference 756 uses a 14 millimeter strap, being sold originally on a “tropic” style rubber strap.

Heuer’s first dive watches marked the “extremes” of sizing, with a 42 millimeter “jumbo” watch and a 28 millimeter “ladies” watch.  With the success of these first dive watches, by 1981 / 1982 Heuer significantly expanded the selection sizes, with the catalog soon including dive watches having the following dimensions:

  • Full size (or jumbo) — 42 mm
  • Men’s size — 38 mm
  • Mid-size (or boys size) — 32 mm
  • Lady’s size — 28 mm

Heuer continued this approach for many years, offering a full range of sizes, with all the watches in the collection having the same style and features.  For example, the catalog image below shows four models of the Series 2000 dive watch, in four different sizes.

For additional information about the early dive watches produced by Heuer, see our Dive Watch Reference Table.

An Aquaracer for Bo Derek

In Spring 2013, TAG Heuer introduced a new version of its Lady Aquaracer (Reference WAP1452).  Measuring 27 millimeters across the dial, the stainless steel case of the new Aquaracer was decorated with rose gold and diamonds, with the mother of pearl dial also using diamonds to mark the hours.  The central area of the dial has horizontal lines, evoking the motion of waves.

In introducing the new Aquaracer, TAG Heuer told the story of Bo Derek and her Reference 765 dive watch, as these early dive watches were predecessors of the Aquaracer collection.  Shown below is a photo of Bo Derek, wearing the new Lady Aquaracer, at the launch event (London, 2013).  Bo Derek tells the story of her Heuer dive watch in this interview in The Jewellery Editor.


Special thanks to Jack Heuer for sharing the story of Bo Derek’s dive watch and the very special photo that was included with his 1979 Christmas card, from Bo Derek’s father.  One thing is for sure — that was a Christmas card to remember!!

Jeff Stein
April 30, 2013
updated July 2022