OnTheDash.com went live exactly 20 years ago. That’s right, on February 12, 2003, at around 9:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time), I sent an email message to around 80 enthusiasts, with the subject, “ATTENTION Heuer Enthusiasts: New Heuer Web Site.” It was going to be a relatively simple site, presenting most of the Heuer dashboard timers in a simple “tree”, and maybe a few of the vintage Heuer chronographs and stopwatches.
Twenty years later, the site provides over 16,600 images; presents detailed information about 589 different models of Heuer chronographs; and hosts scans of over 50 Heuer and TAG Heuer catalogs. We refreshed the look of the site in 2009 (as shown below) and just about started from scratch with a complete rewrite of the site in 2018.
In the past few days, as I have looked back over the first 20 years of OnTheDash, the thing that struck me was the incredible number of collectors, enthusiasts, explorers and evaluators who have been members of our community. We communicated by email, moved over to discussion forums, participated in Facebook groups, and now Instagram and WhatsApp groups seem to be the most popular platforms for us to share images and information. Of course, many members of the community have come and gone. but there has always been a strong core of enthusiasts who have been interested in these amazing timepieces.
In 2015, to mark the 12th anniversary of OnTheDash, I published a posting describing how things had changed before and after OnTheDash – Remember the Good Old Days . . . Before OnTheDash? So have a look at that posting to see how we communicated in the days before discussion forums and social media. It’s also fun to read bout the good old days when the black Autavias were selling for $300, the white ones were $400, and if they had an extra hand, they might fetch $500. Yes, there was no real information about references or executions, we just priced them by the colors or even by the pound.
For anyone who wants to see how OnTheDash developed during its first 10 years, we can go the Internet Archive / Wayback Machine, and browse the “What’s New” page of OnTheDash. From the time we launched the site in February 2003 through September 2011, we updated this “What’s New” page whenever we added content to the site. Here is what the “What’s New” page looked like, when we posted our final update of the page in September 2011. “State of the Collection” postings were also more common in the pre-Instagram days, so here are a few of those.
While I won’t attempt to summarize how OnTheDash developed over the last 20 years, there were a few milestone in the early years that are interesting to review:
- In May 2003, we published our first version of the Master Reference Table. This table was based on work by Bruce Mackie in reviewing the vintage Heuer catalogs and the late Chuck Maddox in formatting the table.
- In July 2006, we broke the story that John Glenn had worn a Heuer stopwatch during his flight in February 1962, making it the first Swiss watch worn in space.
- In September 2007, we published our Vintage Heuer Price Guide. We decided not to keep the Price Guide up to date, but it is still interesting to see what the prices were like back in 2007.
- In May 2009, we updated the Master Reference Table by revising and expanding the Carrera Reference Table. The updated table included 102 models and executions.
To Celebrate Our 20th Anniversary
To mark the 20th anniversary of OnTheDash, rather than focusing on the watches or the website, I wanted to have a look back at some of the key events / gatherings / celebrations that our community has shared over the years. As I was looking through files and postings, I realized that it is far more interesting to see and think about the people who have made this community so special than it is to have another deep dive into the watches. The watches haven’t really changed much over the years, and they will look about the same in 2023 as they did in 2003. The people, on the other hand . . . well, you can see a little more gray hair on some of us and a little less hair on others.
Before getting into the events, let me apologize for the fact that the coverage of these events is biased toward those that I was able to attend, and the selection of photos is also somewhat random. There were fantastic events for which I have just about no photos . . . please forward some to me if you find yourself reviewing your own archives!!
January 2008 – Opening of TAG Heuer Museum
In January 2008, TAG Heuer opened the TAG-Heuer 360 Museum, in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, and a few of us made the trip to see and admire the new space and the fantastic watches that were on display. Click HERE for our report on the event.
TAG Heuer was introducing the Grand Carrera collection at this time and the hot watch at this event was the Grand Carrera chronograph in the black-coated case.
May 2008 Collectors Summit
TAG Heuer convened the first “Summit” for vintage collectors in May 2008. Eight collectors attended, Abel Court – Belgium; Arno Haslinger — Austria; Maarten van Helden — Netherlands; Fabrizio Rebella — Italy; Jasper Bitter – Germany; Jan Lund – Denmark; Ron Henselmans – Netherlands; and David Chalmers — Hong Kong & Australia.
Ron Henselmans and Abel Court published an interesting report covering the event, which you can read HERE.
December 2010 – Bonhams Sale of the Haslinger Collection
The event that brought vintage Heuer chronographs to the attention of watch collectors and media around the world was Bonham’s sale of the Haslinger collection, in December 2010. Many members of the collectors community attended the auction itself, as well as a get-together for collectors held in London, prior to the event.
Our review of the auction is HERE.
March 2012 – Five Friends Visit TAG Heuer
In March 2012, five collectors who were active on the French discussion forum, Montres Mechanique, visited TAG Heuer headquarters, in La Chaux-de-Fonds. Laurent Bouzoulouk (known to collectors as “Noodia”) was one of these collectors, and he prepared a detailed report covering the group’s visit.
January 2013 – Carrera 50th Anniversary
In January 2013, TAG Heuer celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Carrera with a special exhibition in Geneva.
A few of us from the collectors community attended the festivities in Geneva, and then spent some time at TAG Heuer headquarters in La Chaux-de-Fonds. In the year when TAG Heuer is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Carrera, it’s interesting to look back and see how they celebrated the 50th. One thing for sure — TAG Heuer has produced some amazing Carreras in the intervening 10 years!!
September 2013 – Collectors Summit
Organized by Paul Gavin, Ron Henselmans and Abel Court, the 2013 vintage Heuer collectors Summit was held in September 2013.
The number of participants grew from exactly eight participants in 2008 to approximately 30 participants in 2013. Clearly the watch collecting hobby and enthusiasm for the brand had exploded over these five years.
Click HERE for two reports covering the Summit, published OnTheDash. Noodia also posted a review of the 2013 Summit on the Montres Mechanique forum (in French), but unfortunately the images are no longer included in the posting.
It is difficult to suggest which watch or watches were the stars of this particular show, but the “Exotic” Autavia and the manual-wind Autavias from the 1960s seemed to have captured the attention of the collectors who attended the 2013 Summit. As much as the watches themselves, the collectors at the Summit also enjoyed looking at the boards of vintage dials that were on display.
September 2016 – Collectors Summit
TAG Heuer hosted a Collectors Summit in September 2016, with approximately 30 collectors participating. The media was also invited to the 2016 Summit, as a highlight of the meeting was the introduction of the new Autavia chronograph, which would be released into retail channels in Spring 2017. Our report on the 2016 Summit is published HERE. By 2016, Instagram had arrived, so have a look under the hashtag #HeuerCollectorSummit to see over 400 additional photos.
The “it” watch of the event? No doubt about this one, it was the new version of the Autavia, though collectors also enjoyed the numerous predecessors from the 1960s that were in attendance.
June 2017 – NYC GTG and Christie’s Auction
June 20 and 21, 2017 were exciting days for the community of vintage Heuer collectors. On the afternoon of June 20, Hodinkee released its limited edition of the Skipper chronograph, and that evening collectors had a get-together in Manhattan, with approximately 30 collectors attending. [Thanks to Eric Wind and Adam Golden for organizing and hosting this event.] The following day, Christie’s held its “Rare Watches and American Icons” auction, which included 34 vintage Heuer chronographs. The auction was interesting to watch and also offered a great opportunity for the collectors to share some time together!!
The “It Watch” of the event – In January 2017, an early version of the Reference 2446 Autavia, with “all lume” hands sold in the $190,000 range. There were a couple of these in attendance at the GTG and auction.
September 2017 – Globetrotter
In September 2017, TAG Heuer staged a unique style of event for the community of collectors. TAG Heuer Boutiques in 10 cities around the world were chosen to host events for collectors, with a different theme of Heuer’s heritage being assigned to each city.
The watches displayed in each city focused on the theme for that location, although other watches were also included in the displays.
In some cities, collectors loaned their watches to be included in the displays, which was a nice form of engagement for the community. Cities and their themes were as follows:
- Dubai — Sailing and Diving
- Geneva — The Great Inventions
- Hong Kong – Motor Racing and Drivers
- Miami – Design
- Munich — Military Watches
- Paris — Heuer Classics
- Singapore — Formula One
- Sydney – Multisports
- Tokyo — Design Through History
- Venice – Driving and Timing
The Globetrotter event was an interesting way to engage the worldwide community of collectors while focusing on the variety of themes captured by the vintage models.
November 2017 – Heuer Parade Auction (Geneva)
On November 11, 2017, Phillips staged the auction of 42 vintage Heuer chronographs from the collections of Richard Crosthwaite and Paul Gavin, with the auction called the “Heuer Parade”. You can see all these watches and our report on the auction HERE.
The auction was held at La Reserve, in Geneva, and represented the largest-ever gathering of vintage Heuer enthusiasts. Members of the community enjoyed a reception / panel discussion Thursday night at La Reserve and traveled to TAG Heuer headquarters during the day on Friday to see some watches from the TAG Heuer Museum and to spend some time together. Hodinkee published my review of the auction HERE.
March 2019 — Baselworld
Several vintage collectors attended the Baselworld Fair in March 2019, with the main event for TAG Heuer being the introduction of the first collection of “three-hand” Autavias (i.e., watches rather than chronographs). The collectors enjoyed a special meeting with senior officers of TAG Heuer, as well as a nice dinner together.
December 2022 – NYC Dinner
On December 8, 2022, in New York City, TAG Heuer hosted a dinner / get-together for the community of vintage collectors. This was the first gathering of U. S. collectors since the Globetrotter event in Miami, in January 2018. We have already posted a “Scrapbook” with over 60 photos from the evening, which you can browse HERE, so will will keep it brief in this posting.
With the get-together occurring in December 2022, there was considerable excitement about the upcoming 60th Anniversary of the Carrera and the group got a preview of the 60th Anniversary Carrera, which would be released a few weeks later. No doubt, Carreras old and new were the “it” watches of this particular celebration.