Produced by Heuer Leonidas S.A. in the late 1960s and early 1970s for the West German Air Force (Budeswehr), these flyback chronographs using Valjoux 22/ 222/ 230 movements known as ‘Heuer Bunds’ are amongst some of the most collectible and sought after military watches.
Like some other milwatches including the 50 Fathoms, Heuer Bunds are not straightforward identitification-wise. Walter Allan Manning has written a comprehensive overview of the Heuer Bundeswehr dial iterations, with over 30 examples, and he summarises the dials as follows. For those who don’t know, the ‘3H’ refers to tritium as the luminescent.
Five general configurations of Heuer-branded dials:
• ‘classic 3H/T’ – a red 3H-symbol appears just below the dial centre, and a tiny ‘T’ appears just above ‘6’
• ‘3H-only’ – a red 3H-symbol appears just below the centre.
• ‘T-only’ – a tiny ‘T’ appears just above ‘6’
• the “clean” – no markings beyond the “Heuer” logo
• the “sternzeit” – STERNZEIT REGULIERT markings just below the dial centre
Two general configurations of Sinn-branded dials:
• ‘3H-only’ – a red 3H-symbol appears just below the centre
• the ‘clean’ – no markings beyond the ‘Heuer’ logo
In addition, he cites four variations of the ‘3H’ symbol:
• ‘standard’ 3H
• ‘big-letter’ 3H – circle is same size as standard, but the letters are larger and fill the circle more completely
• ‘small-letter’ 3H – circle is same size as standard, but the letters are smaller and there is a small dot in the centre
• ‘small-circle’ 3H – the circle is noticeably smaller
Three variations of the manufacturer logo:
• the ‘standard’ Heuer logo – fits inside :58 and :02.
• the ‘big’ Heuer logo – fits even with :58 and :02.
• the Sinn logo
Two variations of the font used for the hour-markers:
• ‘standard’ font – most noticeable because none of the numbers are cut-off.
• ‘cut-off’ font – the 10:00, 8:00, and 2:00 are cut-off by the subdials.
The best way of getting even a vague handle on this is a visual comparison of them all, especially with details such as the size of the ‘3H’, at Walter Manning’s site.
The ‘classic’ Heuer Bund chronograph is generally accepted as featuring the standard Heuer log, a classic 3-H, a T-symbol above the ‘6’, and regular font. The one featured in this post is a Bund with a standard logo, big 3-H, T-symbol and regular font. How can you tell that it’s the big ‘3H’? Well the top of the ‘H’ is at approximately the mid point for the ‘3’. There is no such ‘overlap’ for the ‘classic’ version.
This gorgeous Bund is in good condition, the bi-directional bezel is bright and without any major dings, although there are some small age related marks. At 42mm, which was large at the time, the brushed and matte stainless steel case fits contemporary size preferences.
One of the appeals of this watch has been the functional simplicity of its dial, and as you can see, this watch’s dial is still clean and bright. If you look at the view from the back, you’ll notice that the crown and pushers have long stems that can be seen and accessed more readily than many watches – this is for practical reasons, to make it easy for the gloved pilots to use.
The watch has the requisite Bundeswehr specification markings on the back and more between the lugs.
One of the interesting idiosyncracies of these watches is how the movement is ‘attached’ via a front loading two part case. The four set-screws attach the top part of the case and bezel to the back of the watch, pressing the crystal and gasket into place, while the movement is cradled inside the back. To get to it, you have to go through the following steps :
1. Undo the four screws
2. ‘Drop’ the movement out of the case, and remove the crystal and gasket, which lift off.
3. The stem should be a split type, so rotate the crown until the movement and ring show some movement
4. The movement and ring should eventually drop out from the front of the tub
In putting it back together, do in reverse, but be careful to make sure that the two halves of the stem slide together and don’t over tighten the small screws. Or perhaps just ask a professional watchmaker to do it all for you.
These are really interesting military watches, and if you want to read more about the Heuer Bunds, go to Manning’s site as linked at the beginning of this post.