Ladies and gentlemen, when it comes to Heuer watches it doesn't get much better than this...
They say we’re all a product of our environment. Be it the people we work with, friends we keep, hobbies and passions we develop or where we decide to hang our hats. This age-old concept was only proven further as a recent trip to meet Jonathan Scatchard and Guy Nelson-Bolton solidified this thought process.
Jonathan and Guy are the two gentlemen behind both vintageheuer.com and vintagewatchshop.com. Both are websites that are dedicated to fine watches with the former naturally focusing its attention on some of the most recognisable, desirable and iconic Heuer watches in the world.
They surround themselves with some of the rarest vintage watches in the world, an endless amount of trinkets from their combined 60 years in the watch industry and a contact list of dealers, collectors and industry figures as long as your arm. You can find the two of them operating under the roof of the idyllic Bowcliffe Hall, Bramham.
As we walked up the grand entrance of Bowcliffe Hall our necks craned towards a gorgeous silver 1960s Alvis car with a tan leather interior to die for. Although this location is known as the ultimate wedding location, office space and conference meeting spot, it’s also a haven for the car enthusiast.
The Bowcliffe Drivers Club is the place to be if things with engines get your blood pumping. It’s jam-packed full of motorsport touches from the overhead lights, incredible artwork to fold-down armrests in the bench seats. It was exceedingly clear that this was the dream meeting spot to talk about watches; especially a brand such as Heuer.
After introductions were made Jonathan asks “Shall we head down to the wing to look at some watches then?”
Not really sure what he meant by ‘the wing’, we eagerly agreed, sharing our thoughts on the vintage watch scene along the way. It was clear after just 10 minutes of small talk that this was a man with enthusiasm, personal skills and a genuine interest in the people he meets in abundance.
As we snaked our way around the lush, fresh grounds of this 200-year-old building, it became extremely apparent that the wing was in fact nestled between huge trees overlooking lush fields.
The Blackburn Wing is a 2,000 sq ft multi-award-winning treehouse shaped like an airplane wing (now ‘The Wing’ nickname makes sense). This was created to pay tribute to aviation hero and ex-resident of Bowcliffe Hall, Robert Blackburn and provides an excellent contrast to the traditional architecture we had just left. Walking around this beautifully crafted piece of art we began to understand why Jonathan picked to locate his business here.
As promised, waiting for inside us sat a Tag Heuer watch box with 20 slots filled with all manner of Heuer watches.
The rate at which the enthusiasm from Jonathan and Guy increased drastically as we began discussing some of the most noticeable and important watches to the Heuer brand.
Let’s take a look at some of the pieces in question now...
The Heuer Monaco 1133B With Full Box And Papers
The Heuer Monaco almost doesn't need any introduction. Released in 1969 and became a legend in ‘71 thanks to an on-screen appearance via Mr Steve McQueen in Le Mans 66. The Monaco is right up there at legendary status along with the Submariner, Speedmaster and Daytona.
This particular model is as perfect as they get. The exact same reference McQueen wore (1133B) in crispy mint condition with minimal signs of ageing, along with its full box, caseback sticker and hangtag. If you’re in the market for a Monaco and you want perfection, well, you’re looking at it right here.
Alternatively, click here to take a look at it on the Vintage Heuer site.
The Heuer Carrera 1553S McLaren World Champions 1974
From a perfect example of an industry-defining creation to a watch that I can bet you’ve never seen before. Here we have a Carrera 1553S; but not just any 1553S. This particular model has dropped the mention of ‘Automatic’ on the dial at the 6 o'clock position in favour of the words “McLaren World Champions 1974”.
We won’t give away too many details on this watch as you’ll have to click here to read the full story, all we will say is this watch is one of only a handful ever created, and could possibly be one of the last remaining 1553S’ with the McLaren dial.
Vintage Heuer Triple Calendar Chronograph Gold c.1940s
The previous two watches were very special, but this is something you never see. Here we have a triple calendar chronograph from Heuer dating back to the 1940s. Something which in itself is pretty impressive to see, but this one goes a step further by being as close to NOS (new old stock) as you could ever imagine.
This barn find is 10/10 and likely has been fitted to a watch strap once in its lifetime. As you might imagine then, this watch has an equally amazing story to go with the condition of the piece.
A selection of other special Heuer’s on show…
Of course, that watch box was packed with other brilliant examples of brand-defining models from Heuer. Jonathan couldn't wait to show us what else he had; who were we to get in the way of that? Here is a selection of the other incredible watches including an elegant pre-Carrera, a stunning early Carrera, a hefty Autavia, and the awesome Monza.
As the hours passed us the stories from Jonathan and Guy about the industry continued. One minute we were talking about how Heuer’s operation has evolved over the years and the next we learnt what it was like to chat to Jack Heuer at a dinner party. It was around this time where their combined 60 years of experience and wealth of knowledge really became apparent.
Speak to any person in the industry and you’ll struggle to find people who will say they know everything there is to know about watches. Well, you might find some who say that but not many of them are telling the truth. It’s an industry where previously best practises such as archive keeping and defined regulations weren’t adhered to as it wasn't perceived to be studied and adored the way it is today; which probably adds to its appeal today.
Although I’m almost certain Jonathan wouldn’t refer to himself as someone who knows everything about Heuer, he is easily one of only a few people in the world who does so without ‘Heuer’ on his driving licence.
For as thrilled Jonathan and Guy were about their watches, interestingly they both were very office proud men. On numerous occasions they were speaking at great length about their range of Heuer trinkets, artworks and mechanical pieces of magic stowed away in their office, but when it came to us suggesting to take a look around we were met with dismissive claims of how untidy it is. After some gentle persuasion, we were through the door and it was exactly how I thought it’d be: they had nothing to be ashamed of.
Their office is a fantastic usable space that is jam-packed with horological themes throughout. With every glance around the room, you’re bound to see something to catch your eye you didn't see the first time. Name a watch brand and the likelihood is there was something in the office related to it.
There was more to this trip than just Heuer...
It was at this moment that it became abundantly clear that although Heuer is both Jonathan’s and Guy’s bread and butter, their obsession with horology doesn’t start and finish with the Heuer family.
'Vintage Watch Shop' is mainly run by Guy and is where everything other than Heuer lives. When we say everything we truly mean everything, from an example of every major era of Rolex, Universal Genève, vintage Breitling, and even a perpetual calendar split-second chronograph with moon phase...
Bowcliffe Hall - What a location to buy a watch!
As we wrap up our time with Jonathan and Guy thanking them both for their generosity and access to watches that many people can only dream of, we take our time to explore Bowcliffe Hall a little more. It was one of the first things to hit us when we entered and remained our lasting thought: this is a truly special place to be.
There is a sense of calm, character, and focus at Bowcliffe making it the perfect place to enjoy a coffee, host a meeting or even something as crazy as selling small mechanical devices people wear on their wrists. Imagine doing that?
To find out more about Vintage Heuer make sure you head over to their website here, it's a treasure trove of all things Heuer and is totally worth your attention. Likewise, if you’d also like to see what Guy has for sale away from Heuer check out Vintage Watch Shop here.
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