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What are these Dashboard Timers Worth??OnTheDash is a non-commercial web site, published in order to provide information to those interested in dash-mounted Heuer timepieces. None of the timepieces shown on this site are for sale, and we have avoided any references to values. Still, "What are they worth?" is definitely a Frequently Asked Question. Prices of the dash-mounted Heuers fluctuate from time to time, and the market for watches, collectibles and racing memorabilia is affected by many factors. Accordingly, we present the following "ranking of relative values" as a way of describing the value of the dash-mounted Heuers relative to each other (if not relative to the US dollar or any other unit of currency). This discussion is based on our observations of the market, as of December 2002. The value of a particular Heuer timepiece can be determined by answering two basic questions:
Part One: Ranking the Relative Values of the Models and VersionsIn order to provide some frame of reference, in many instances we will compare the value of a particular model or variation to the value of a three-button (early) Monte Carlo. These Monte Carlos stand toward the middle of the price range, and with the Master Time, the Monte Carlos represent the "classic" dash-mounted Heuers. In this section, we refer to a "Relative Value Scale", which suggests the value of a particular model relative to a three-button Monte Carlo in comparable condition. With that introduction, the following is a ranking of the values of the dash-mounted Heuers, from most expensive to least expensive:
Super Autavia is the "ultimate" Heuer, a full chronograph built to be attached to the dashboard of an automobile or airplane. It is the only dash-mounted Heuer providing both time-of-day and time-of-trip (stopwatch) functions. That is the good news and the basis for its position as the most expensive dash-mounted Heuer. Factors that detract from value include the lack of a "real" racing heritage and a scarcity of parts for the older movement; some parts are scarce, even for the newer movement. The lack of a racing heritage is easily explained -- the stopwatch is hard to read even sitting on a desk or table. The thought of taking a reading in a rally-car, in the dark of night, explains why the Super Autavias were left in the pits or back at the office.
Early ones, with thin chrome cases and the Valjoux 76 movement, are extremely rare and score the highest points for aesthetics and rarity; scarcity of parts is a concern; the later models are more common, more legible, and more accurate as timepieces, but lose some points for their "chunky" aesthetics; putting it all together, Super Autavias from the middle years often seem to attract the highest prices. Expect to see Super Autavias changing hands at a 50% to 60% premium to the price of a comparable three-button Monte Carlo.
On average, we give the Super Autavia a 1.5 on the Relative Value Scale.Master Time values is that they vary considerably. The best example of an early model (3-6-9-12 on the dial) may sell for three or four times the price of a poor example of the very same model. The Master Times were never great timekeepers, and somehow their dials tend to show their age more dramatically than other models. Thus, the Master Time that keeps good time and survives in near-mint condition is a real rarity, and prices beginning alongside the nicest Super Autavia (at a 50 to 80% premium to a comparable three-button Monte Carlo). By contrast, a Master Time that has lived a hard life and shows its age is the least expensive of the Heuers, selling for even less than a decent Auto-Rallye. Though they are rarer, prices of the 24-hour Master Times are generally in line with those of the more common 1-through-12 version of the Master Time. Some collectors appreciate the true-24 hour indication, others find it difficult to read.
So on the Relative Value Scale, the Master Time scores a 1.8 for the best early models and a 1.3 to 1.5 for the more common 1-through-12 or 24-hour models.Monte Carlos, there is one simple question "Does it have two buttons or three?" Three-button / early models seem to fetch a consistent premium (approx. 20%) above the later two-button models. As with the Super Autavias, the early ones score points for their better aesthetics / cleaner lines, while the shortage of certain parts does raise concerns that an early Monte Carlo may be one part away from becoming an expensive paperweight. Dials and hands on the early Monte Carlos also tend to turn toward brown over the years.
On our Relative Value Scale, the three-button Monte Carlo is - by definition -- set at 1.0 and the two-button Monte Carlo comes in at 0.8.Sebring occupies a curious position in the Heuer food-chain. Sure they were sometimes used in rallying, and sure the split-second function is a neat bit of watchmaking technology, but many rallying enthusiasts continue to end the discussion with the phrase, " . . . but it's not a Monte Carlo". Other detractors deride it for being "too American", and in fact the Sebrings were less popular in Europe. That said, the split-second function / hand is breathtaking to observe, there was some mighty good racing down in Sebring, Florida, and these are great looking timepieces.
Taking all this into account, expect to see the Sebrings changing hands at a slight (5%) to moderate (15%) discount to comparable (three-button) Monte Carlos, resulting in a 0.9 on the Relative Value Scale.Autavia seems to be something of a "white elephant" among many Heuer enthusiasts. Based on its 25-year production history, its full 12-hour capability, the clean lines of its dial, case and movement, and its unquestioned racing heritage, the Autavia should be highly desirable. Still, at best, they seem to match the prices of comparable early Monte Carlos, and at worst, they struggle to sell at a 30% discount to these Monte Carlos. Factors detracting from their value seem to be the relative scarcity of people wanting to put them on the dashboards of their 1933 through 1957 race / rally cars, some scarcity of spare parts, and a preference for the Monte Carlo's jumping hour disc arrangement. In addition, the Autavia hands tend to discolor to the point of being almost black.
We give the Autavia a 0.7 on the Relative Value Scale.Auto Rallye!! With no 12-hour capability, no time of day indication and no split-second capability, it is often derided as being "just a stopwatch". As such, the Auto Rallye ranks sixth in value among the dash-mounted Heuers, often struggling to fetch half the price of a comparable Monte Carlo. One footnote, however, is that the early Auto Rallyes may be the rarest and among the most valuable of the dash-mounted Heuers. These early ones are also difficult to find and identify, in that they do not bear the "Auto Rallye" name on their dials. Bottom line - if you can live without the 12-hour disc, the Auto Rallye is the real bargain among the dash-mounted Heuers.
The Auto Rallye earns a 0.6 on our Relative Value Scale.Rally-Master pair. (Interestingly, even before the creation of the Rally-Master pair in the late 1950's, Heuer marketed the Hervue Junior (8-day clock) and the Autavia (12-hour stopwatch) as a "Hervue" pair.) Proper Rally-Master pairs are the most valuable of all the Heuers, commanding prices for a pair that are often well beyond the combined prices of the Master Time and Monte Carlo. When we refer to a "proper" Rally-Master pair, we mean either (a) a pair that was sold as such, from the factory (and, in fact, Heuer put the two timepieces together and sold them in a double-wide box) or (b) a pair that is perfectly matched, in terms of color and condition, even if "put together" well after they were produced.
Values of the Rally-Master pairs parallel the values of the Master Time and Monte Carlo that constitute the pair - thus we assign the highest ranking to the early pairs (3-6-9-12 on the dial of the Master Time and three buttons on the Monte Carlo). If a top early Master Time would earn 1.7 on the Relative Value Scale and a top three-button Monte Carlo would - by definition -- be set at 1.0, then a properly matched Rally-Master pair would be worth 3.0 to 3.6 on this scale. This extra value derives from the increasing scarcity of proper pairs, as well as the value of a genuine Heuer double back-plate (which may itself sell for $300).
Yes - the pair is indeed worth considerably more than the sum of the parts.
Many rally cars of the 1940's, 1950's and 1960's were actually fitted with a pair of Autavias on a double back-plate, rather than the classic Rally-Master pair. For example, study photographs of the works Mini that won the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally, and you will find a pair of Autavias on the dash. A properly matched pair of Autavias, in good condition, is both rare and authentic to vintage rally cars. We give such a pair a 2.0 on the Relative Value Scale, well beyond the combined value of two similar Autavias.
The Abercrombies have at least two factors supporting their values - the current resurgence of the Abercrombie & Fitch brand and the presence of the "Heuer" logo on the dial and "Heuer" markings on the movements. Heuer also produced an excellent line of chronographs under the Abercrombie name. Putting all this together, the dashboard Abercrombies generally sell on parity with or even at a slight premium to the "plain" Heuers.
By contrast, the Allstates suffer from a brand name that - at its best -- represented solid reliability and value, and has suffered from a steady erosion over the years. The Sears / Allstate names certainly never evoked the style or prestige of Abercrombie & Fitch. To make matters worse, the Allstates did not have the "Heuer" name on the dial, most did not have the "Heuer" markings on the movements, and some of the materials used were of lower quality than the Heuers. Putting all this into the calculator, the Allstates often sell at a 30 to 40 percent discount to the comparable Heuers.
Part Two: Evaluating a Particular TimepieceNow that we have explored the relative values of the various models, we can proceed to discuss the factors that will affect the value of a particular timepiece. For example, if, at a particular time, the early Master Times are selling in a range between $XXXX and $YYYY, how much is this one worth??
First Things First -- The Dial
The single most important factor affecting the value of any particular timepiece is the condition of the dial. A timepiece with a "mint" dial can command a premium of 50 to 80 percent over the value of the same timepiece with an "average" or "worn" dial. Movements can be overhauled, hands can be repainted, crystals can be polished, cases can be replaced -- all without too much trouble or affect on value -- but the dial is generally yours forever. Spare dials are scarce; retouching is virtually impossible; and the dials tend to degrade or become discolored over the years. So when you shop for a dashboard Heuer, you are shopping for the dial.
Additional Notes regarding ValuesIn addition to the factors that drive the values of any particular model, there are certain factors that significantly affect the value of any particular timepiece. To some extent, these characteristics define what we mean by a "top" or "prime" example. In other instances, these factors may add value to any particular timepieces. These factors that increase values above the normal scale include:
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