Racers Wearing Heuers

Once upon a time, racers wore chronographs. In this era, the racers wore chronographs — not because they were under contract with a watch manufacturer or were serving as “ambassadors” — but because they enjoyed wearing them. Chronographs were part of their “uniform”, part of their equipment, part of their mystique, part of the romance of men and their machines. The racers compared their chronographs, competing for the “cool factor” or showing off a newly acquired model.

More than any other brand, the chronographs that the racers wore in the 1960s and 1970s were the Heuers. Talk to racers from this era, and they will tell you that having a Heuer chronograph was the “in thing”. There were less expensive watches, but they weren’t as good as the Heuers. And there were the higher-priced, more elegant watches — sometimes given as prizes or promotions — but these were not the watches that the racers were wearing for their work. The racers identified with the Heuers; these were the real racers’ watches of the 1960s and 1970s.

In creating a section of OnTheDash about the racers and their chronographs, one thing quickly became clear: some racers wore a watch at all times; other racers didn’t wear watches at all.

Ground rules of this webpage — we post photos of drivers and their watches, if the watch can be identified. While most of the watches shown are Heuers, we post photos regardless of the brand.  We post watches being worn “in the wild”, not watches that the racers were being paid to wear.

All photos are used with permission of the owners of the photos; many of the photos are available for purchase through the agency credited for the photo.

Emerson Fittipaldi

Born in Brazil in 1946, Fittipalid became the youngest Fomrula One world champion in history, when he won the 1972 championship, driving a Lotus 72-Ford in the black-and-gold colors of the John Player Special team. Fittipaldi moved to the Marlboro McLaren team in 1974, winning his second world championship in the McLaren M23-Ford, three points ahead of Ferrari’s Clay Regazzoni. 

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Arturo Merzario

Arturo Merzario (born in 1942) made his Formula One debut in 1972, driving for Scuderia Ferrari, and earning a single point in the British Grand Prix.  The 1973 season with Ferrari brought Merzario a sixth place finish for the season, with fourth place finishes in Brazil and South Africa.  Merzario moved to the Williams team in 1974,

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Ronnie Peterson

Ronnie Peterson was the fastest driver of his generation. Perhaps he lacked the consistency, mechanical sympathy, finesse or just plain luck to win the world championship but no one could touch him over a single lap or on his day. He was quite simply fast and spectacular. His rise to Formula 1 energized a nation not previously known for circuit racing and his death was a bitter blow to the sport as a whole for Ronnie was F1’s most popular star. 

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Mario Andretti

If we were to create “Heuer Hero Index” capturing how often each racing champion wore a watch, the variety of Heuer chronographs worn by the racer, and the success that each racer enjoyed on the track, the clear number one Heuer Hero from the 1960s and 70s would be Mario Andretti.  Andretti wore watches throughout his career —

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Jochen Rindt

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Jody Scheckter

Jody Scheckter’s Formula One career can be summarized by reference to the four teams that he drove for over the period from 1972 to 1980.  Scheckter drove for Yardley Team McLaren in the 1972 and 1973 seasons; for Elf Team Tyrrell from 1974 through 1976; for Walter Wolf Racing in 1977 and 1978; and for Scuderia Ferrari in 1979 and 1980. 

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Jacky Ickx

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Jacky Ickx’s Heuers

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References

Motorsport Magazine — Jacky Ickx  racing biography

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John Morton

John Morton was an American racer, who competed in SCCA Club races, as well as Formula 5000, the Can-Am series, and the IMSA series.  Driving for the BRE team (Brock Racing Enterprises), Morton won the SCCA C Production class with the Datsun 240Z (National Championships in 1970-71) and the under 2.5 liter Trans-Am with the Datsun 510 (Championships in 1971-72).

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Denny Hulme

Denny Hulme’s Autavia

Shown below is a photo of Denny Hulme, from 1974, in which he is wearing an automatic Autavia.   The watch appears to be a Reference 11630.

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Gilles Villeneuve

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Clay Regazzoni

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Niki Lauda

References

Motor Sport Hall of Fame — Niki Luada racing biography

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Images of Racers


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Next: Celebrities
In this section, we cover celebrities who wore Heuers, not because they were under contract as ambassadors, but because of their own choosing. From time to time, we cover celebrities…
See Celebrities