I really dislike the word “unique”, especially when it’s used to describe a watch.  We see far too many unique watches, many of which are identical to each other in every respect.

Recently, however, there has been considerable interest in one of the “unique” Carreras.  Unique?  Yes, because it was made specifically for military issuance; does not have the model name “Carrera” on the dial; and has Arabic numerals, painted in lume, with pilot-style hands.  OK, readers, have I convinced you that this is a unique watch among the vintage Heuer chronographs?  Whether or not it qualifies as “unique”, it’s a great looking watch that has been the subject of some recent attention, and certainly worthy of this note.

The Look

Essential elements of this watch are the same as those of many 1960s Carreras — stainless steel, screw-back case, with angular lugs (that are unique to the Carrera); inner bezel (tension ring) between the dial and crystal, with has marks in one-fifth second increments.

The Belgian Air Force (Force Aérienne Belge) Carrera has two elements that are often associated with watches for pilots — painted Arabic numerals and white, lume-filled hands.  Both these elements improve legibility, with the use of numerals rather than plain markers [as used on most Carreras] indicating the hour, at a glance, and with no mental processing by the pilot.  While the inner bezels on most Carreras contrast with the color of the dial, this model uses the black-on-black approach.

Reference 7753

The Reference 7753 Carrera is a two-register chronograph, with a 30 minute recorder (at three o’clock) and a running seconds hand (at nine o’clock).  While other models in the Reference 7753 series have additional designations (“S” for silver dial, “D” for decimal minutes, “NT” for black dial with tachymeter, etc.), the model made for the Belgian Air Force has not additional designation.  Cases are marked with the 7753 reference number.

Movement

As all other Reference 7753 Carreras, this model is powered by the Valjoux 7730.

Military Issuance and Markings

These chronographs were issued to the Force Aérienne Belge (the Belgian Air Force).  The markings on the case-back are as follows:  “F. Ae.” is the abbreviation for “Force Aérienne Belge”; “6645-13-107-6724” is a NATO reference number, so that it will be the same on all samples of this watch; the “70/xxx” refers to the year when the watch was issued (1970), followed by a serial number, which should be unique for each sample.

These watches are also marked with standard serial number used by Heuer, in this instance a six-digit number in the series 106xxx.

While we see occasional references to the Belgian Congo, the watches were issued to the Force Aérienne Belge (Belgian Air Force), with no specific connection to the Belgian Congo.

Civilian Model

Most of the samples of this watch that we have seen are marked for military issuance, however, we have seen some “civilian” models.  The civilian model is identical to the issued model, except that the case-back is plain, with no engraving.

Scarcity

The Carrera Force Aérienne Belge is a relatively rare watch.  Over the years, the vintage Heuer collectors community has probably seen fewer than 20 of these watches, and we might expect to see two or three samples per year come onto the market.

Registry

While putting together this posting, I went ahead and started a registry of these Carreras.  So if you have one to add, please send me some photos.  Standard Heuer serial number and the military issue number will be appreciated.

Gallery

For additional photographs of these watches, visit the related OnTheDash Gallery.

Thanks

Special thanks to Abel Court for the photos included in this posting.  Abel is a watchmaker extraordinaire, a fourth generation goldsmith, and one of the outstanding members of our community.  And, yes, he is our expert in all things Belgian!!

Registry of Belgian Carreras