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Gallery of Fakes

To create a gallery of "fakes" is to raise the controversial question of just what is (and is not) a "fake". Webster's Dictionary tells us that a fake is something that is "not what it purports to be". Let me use this simple definition as a frame of reference in this attempt to describe the types of "fakes" that are displayed on this page.

A first point to note is that we are talking about the watches themselves -- the case, dial, hands, movement, etc., that are assembled to create a watch. We look at the watch itself to determine whether it is "what it purports to be" or whether it is a "fake". This Gallery is not about the people who make the fakes, it's not about the people who sell them, and it's not about the representations that are made in connection with the sale (which may turn a fake into a fraud). Rather, we look at the watch itself, and only the watch. Someone selling a fake may describe it accurately (as a fake); in this instance, the seller is being honest. Still, the watch itself is a fake, so it belongs in the Gallery.

In defining what ia and is not a "fake", let's start with the easiest case -- the "pure fake". Someone takes an inexpensive chronograph, made by another manufacturer under another brand name, has the dial refinished to indicate "Heuer Silverstone", and adds the name "Heuer" to the movement. It purports to be a Heuer Silverstone; but is it not a Heuer and it is not a Silverstone, so all would agree that it is a "fake".

A second variety of fake is a watch that began life as one type of Heuer, but has been altered to purport to be some other type of Heuer. For example, a watchmaker can take a Reference 404 chronograph (made by Heuer, with no model name on the dial), and refinish the dial to add the more valuable "Carrera" name. It purports to be a Heuer Carrera, but it is not. Yes, it might be a Heuer, on a physical level, but it is definitely not a "Carrera". It is a Heuer Reference 404 chronograph with a (badly) refinished dial; it purports to be a Carrera, so it is a "fake".

Now we get to one of the most difficult situations -- a watchmaker takes parts from genuine Heuer chronographs (or from supplies of genuine Heuer parts), and creates a watch from the parts. The parts are all from the correct model, but the chronograph, as such, was created by the watchmaker, and not actually made by Heuer. "Made by Heuer" means just that -- this watch was assembled / made / created by Heuer. Can a watchmaker disassemble and re-assemble a genuine Heuer, in performing an overhaul? Of course. Can this watchmaker replace worn or damaged parts? Sure, this is an accepted practice in the industry. Can he replace the original hands with new hands that were made by Heuer, for this exact model? Yes -- at this point, the watch will no longer be 100% "original", but I don't think collectors would call it a fake.

Going further, let's consider the example of someone taking the major components from two or more timepieces (all of them the same model) and putting them together to create a working chronograph. For example, a collector may combine the case and movement from an Autavia 11630 GMT, with the dial and hands from another Autavia 11630 GMT, to produce a complete watch. In my experience, most would think of the resulting chronograph as "rebuilt" or "salvaged"; few would call it a "fake"; all would agree that, if its history is known, it will be worth something less than a fully original Autavia 11630 GMT, as produced by Heuer. What we decide to call these watches is largely "academic -- they will look absolutely "correct" and will usually go undetected.

Last on our list of categories are the so-called "Frankens" -- when someone has taken various parts from different Heuer models, and combined them to create a working watch. Have a look in the Gallery (below), and you will see a Carrera dial in a Camaro case, and a Daytona dial in a Carrera case. Are they genuine Heuer parts? Yes. Is the resulting piece a genuine Heuer Carrera or Daytona? No. It is not what it purports to be (a Carrera or a Daytona), so I classify it as a "fake".

I realize that this is a controversial topic, but readers consistently confirm that this Gallery of Fakes and this information is extremely useful. Accordingly, I present it for what it is -- one collector's opinion based on his own definition of what is and is not a fake. My view of "fakes" may be parallel to Supreme Court Justice Stewart's view of "obscenity" -- I don't know how to define it, but I know it when I see it.

I would welcome your e-mail with any comments on the watches shown in this Gallery, including additional information about how and where they were made. If anyone can present further information to authenticate any of these watches, as genuine Heuer chronographs, the watch will be removed from the Gallery. In two years of maintainig this Gallery, noone has demonstrated that any watch shown in this Gallery has been genuine.

Jeffrey M. Stein
January 14, 2004
Updated -- May 18, 2006

AUTAVIA's

See Note (1) re dial and case; hands and needles from Elgin or Breitling

See Note (1) re dial and case; hands and needles from Elgin or Breitling

See Note (1) re dial and case; main hands from Autavia GMT; sold for $920 (04/04)

see Note (1) about the dial; case and hands from Autavia (Reference 1163V)

this one is a mystery -- beautiful dial and case (but likely not by Heuer); pristine movement

unique dial (with numerals); unique bezel; hands and case may be genuine

wrong dial; bezel; hands; crown; and movement (marked Cal 15) . . . otherwise OK

case-back seems genuine (case isn't); dial may be OK; all else from elsewhere

case, hands, bracelet and case-back from four different models of the Autavia

fake Autavia dial in Montreal case = AutReal; sold for 826 euro (04/04)

rotating inner bezel and 2nd crown (never used by Heuer); dial and hands from Autavia

probably the ugliest thing ever to wear the Heuer name; nothing genuine here

Notes regarding Autavias

  1. During 2003, several sets of these dials and cases were offered by a parts dealer in Australia. It appears that neither the dials nor the cases were ever used by Heuer in any chronograph. Some claim that these dials and cases were to be used in a model that never actually made it into production. Others claim that the dials and cases are pure fakes -- never made for Heuer. Wherever the truth lies about the origin of the dials and cases, it is clear that at individuals in North America bought the dials and cases, and then made chronographs by adding hands and movements.

Last Updated: 2004.10.31 - JMS

CARRERA's

probably began its life as Heuer Ref 404; then someone made it into a Carrera

if this were a genuine Heuer Carrera, it would be among the rarest and most valuable

maybe the worst fake on the entire page; I can't find any Heuer component

the very rare "Camarerra": a Carrera dial in a Camaro case

the case and hands might be from Autavia; dial and bezel are from some other parts bin

looks like a Carrera case; too bad about the dial, hands and inner bezel

awful refinished dial; not a Carrera case; not Carrera hands

pretty colors, but look at those teeny, tiny little hands . . . how would you read the time?

the "Brassarera" -- short hands; brassy case; unmarked movement

described as "one-of-a-kind" . . . can't argue with that!! this inner bezel not used by Heuer

the CarreTina -- Carrera dial; Cortina case and bracelet; hands of unknown origin

Carrera dial + Autavia case = beautiful fake; if only Heuer had made this one!!

coming soon

wrong hands (from Autavia -- ??); wrong dial for this case; dial re-touched with "white out"??

nice MG logo, but this one has wrong dial, case and movement; made in Italy

something between a Carrera and a Camaro, but not quite; made in Italy

Last Updated: 2006.05.15 - JMS

CALCULATOR

coming soon

coming soon

Last Updated: 2005.04.18 -JMS

MONTREAL

There seems to be an abundant supply of fake dials for the blue Montreals. Shown across the top row in the following table, a telltale of the fake dials is the absence of the "frame" around the date window. All genuine Montreal dials, whether blue, black, white or gold, have this window. While the fake dials may be abundant, genuine hands for the Montreal are scarce, so those assembling the fakes have used a wide variety of hands, as shown in the table. The Montreal is a large watch, so these franken hands often come up a little short. Not surprisingly, those who have compared the fake dials with the real ones report that the fakes are far inferior in quality.

Click here to view a genuine Montreal dial.

fake dial; wrong hands; also, Heuer never used the blue dial in the black case.

fake dial; wrong hands and chrono needles

fake dial; wrong hands and chrono needles

fake dial; wrong hands (way too short); wrong movement (bridge).

dial from Montreal; case from late Autavia GMT; hands from Viceroy Autavia

the very rare Montrera -- Montreal dial and hands, in a Carrera case

fake dial (as per usual); wrong hands; wrong bezel (from white Montreal)

Last Updated: 2006.04.04 - JMS

SILVERSTONE

Heuer never made a manual-wind Silverstone; this fake likely from a "Mondia" brand chrono.

another "Mondia" that became a fake Heuer

the world's only Silverstone GMT; but how do you read the second timezone?

wrong hands and wrong movement (Cal 11) earn this one a place in the Gallery

Last Updated: 2004.01.07.10.12.32 - CM3

DAYTONA

a Carrera, through and through, except for the dial and hands

the unique DayMontErona, consisting of Daytona dial, Montreal hands and Verona back

Last Updated: 2004.01.07.10.12.32 - CM3

MONZA

offered on Italian ebay (08/04)

Last Updated: 2004.08.16 - JMS

FLYGRAF 

Heuer never produced a "Flygraf" chronograph, but that hasn't stopped others from creating them. These seem to be derived from the LeJour Flygraph or the Renis Flygraph.

 

nasty looking mark on the case-back is from a Yema

orange chronograph needles

notable for its nasty looking mark on the case-back, from a Yema, and "Ebauche Suisse" at bottom of dial

poor man's fake Flygraf; 7734 instead of 7736; same case and bezel as fake Flygrafs

"Yachtingraf", the poor cousin of the Flygraf; rarely seen among the yachting crowd

first cousin of the Flygraf; same dial, but they left off the extra art-work; awful looking movement

Last Updated: 2004.07.27 - JMS

OTHERS

looking good!! until they stamped "Heuer & Leonidas Co." inside the case-back and added those long hands

Heuer and Leonidas on the dial, many years before the merger; awful marks on movement and inside case-back

styling from the 30's or 40's; marked with the "Heuer" and the "Leonidas" (merged in 1964)

another "Heuer Leonidas" dial; the usual crude "Heuer" marking on the movement

an unusual attempt, with no genuine Heuer elements; crazy-looking case

described as "solid gold"; definitely a "solid fake"

OTHERS -- 1960's Style

spanning three decades: dial from the 50's; case / bezel from the 60's; pushers from the 70's

probably began its life as a Zodiac; became a "Heuer"; sold for $1145 (01/04)

a unique fake -- the only "Heuer" to give jewel count on the dial??

sure, Heuer made "Monte Carlos", but never in the form of a wristwatch

coming soon

coming soon

OTHERS -- 1970's and later

the only "bullhead" bearing the Heuer name?

trying to pass as a Camaro; GMT inner bezel; jewel count on dial; silly looking mark on movement

wrong case; wrong dial; wrong hands . . . movement may be OK??

main hands may be by Heuer, but that's all

no Heuer components; awful marking on movement

not a single element from a Heuer (hands, dial, case, movement, etc.)

this style case commonly used on the fakes; never used by Heuer

if you are tired of Heuer-Leonidas, then try this Leonidas-Heuer!!

big bezel + big hands = big mess

Ike Turner, then Tina Turner, now Heuer + CerTina + Eterna = HeuerTinaTerna

awful paint on the hands; awful marks on the movement; awful mess of a watch

buy this one and the one to the left, and you will have the complete set

and the beat goes on -- another awful fake

Take a Pasadena dial, put it in a Flieger style case, and we have the very rare "PasaFlieger"

. . . and so we must call this one the "Poor Man's PasaFlieger"

the crown looks OK, the rest is fake; note Ed. Heuer markings on bridge and case

the famous "Le Mans" . . . if only McQueen had worn this beauty in the movie, Le Mans

think of this one as the "Poor Man's Le Mans" . . . nasty looking thing

Last Updated: 2006.09.28 - JMS

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