The 7754 is probably the most mythical skipper watch on earth. It was commissioned in 1967 by Jack Heuer to celebrate the victory of ‘The Intrepid’ in the “America’s Cup” and winning the regatta with Heuer timekeeping equipment. The watch was made as a tribute, and therefore came with a unique dial with the Intrepid’s color references.
And if the production numbers remain a myth, it is believed only 20 of those watches were made, and to this day, the 7754 remains the only Heuer Skipper in the brand’s history to be fitted with the case of a vintage Carrera, which is why you will often see it nicknamed as the “Skipperera”.
To understand why this watch is so special, it’s always good to look a little bit further in Heuer’s history, and their ties with yacht racing. Here is how the 7754 was born…
HEUER AND YACHT RACING
Since the 1930’s, Heuer has always been close to yacht racing. Mostly known for their timers and stopwatches sailors would take in their boats, they didn’t offer a wristwatch for the racers at the time until 1964. Heuer entered an arrangement with Aquastar, a watchmaker for diving and sailing and co-branded an Aquastar “Regate” chronograph. Soon after that, Heuer started producing their own Regatta models, with the same “disappearing ball” dial design they used with the Aquastar.
A 1970's Heuer Regatta with the "disappearing ball" design
HEUER AND "THE INTREPID"
In 1967, the America’s Cup was held in Rhode Island, with US Defender “The Intrepid” representing the New York Yacht Club. The 12-meter yacht was skippered by sailor Emil “Bus” Mosbacher Jr., and the boat was considered one of the best in the Yacht Club Fleet.
At this time, it was reported that Douglas Grewer, Heuer’s US Country Manager, was very active in yachting. He therefore asked Jack Heuer a mandate to supply the intrepid with timekeeping equipment like stopwatches, timers and wristwatches.
Heuer agreed, and started producing a special edition of its Aquastar-Heuer Regate for the crew of the Intrepid. Both brands were fitted on the dial, as well as the name of the yacht “The Intrepid’ :
VICTORY OF THE INTREPID
Starting off NewPort (Rhode-Island) from September 12, the race opposed the United States against Australia. Since 1851, the trophy has always remained the property of the Yacht Club of New York, who’ve always imposed and ridiculed their adversaries.
The cup is awarded to the first competitor to win four races, each one of them measuring 24 miles. During those races, Intrepid sailed to an absolute crushing victory over their australian challenger, Dame Pattie, winning all of the four races consecutively.
THE HEUER SKIPPER, OR THE CELEBRATION OF INTREPID’S VICTORY
With this victory, Heuer marked the hit by commanding the creation of an entirely new chronograph model : The Skipper. The brand borrowed the case design of their Carrera chronograph, a watch usually made for driving, and encased a metallic blue dial with a subcounter specially made for regatta racing.
The 7754 was born.
To this day, the 7754 remains the only Skipper model made from an original 36mm Carrera case. By using the existing Carrera case and hands, and only needing to create a new dial and modify the movement, Heuer was able to accelerate the design and production process to offer the Skipper in 1968.
The production only lasted one year, and we estimate that only 20 Heuer Skipper 7754 have ever been made. There is one known historical picture with a celebrity wearing it, in the name of Lotus founder Colin Chapman :
The design of the dial comes straight out of the swinging sixties and takes inspiration from the Intrepid yacht : Inside a blue metallic dial, two sub-counters take place with a mint-green one, and another one at 3 o’clock divided in three parts : one mint-green, one green, and one orange, readable on 15 minutes.
The green of the two sub-dials match perfectly with the color of the Intrepid’s deck, as the tint was chosen because of its anti-reflective properties.
This graduation is typical of regatta watches since it allows sailors to be informed of the start of a race: When a regatta starts, four shots are fired at 15-minute intervals. The first 3 are drawn at 15, 10 and 5 minutes from the start, the 4th signifies the start.
MARK IN HISTORY
The 7754 was unique in a ton of ways : Made in the moment, it was the first coloured toolwatch, capturing its era of production beautifully. When every watch brand was releasing black and grey, “panda”, black-on-black dials, Heuer came with 4 blocks of flashy colors to put in a sailing watch a launched a trend by themselves.
And when you think about it, the history of this watch really has no equivalent : We talk about an entire watch, made in only 20 pieces with a whole new dial and modified movement, to commemorate the victory of a boat !
The prices of examples in good condition will always keep skyrocketing in auction houses (IF you manage to find one, which happens once every few years, and IF the watch is fully genuine), as the watch is still ultra relevant today as it even served as inspiration for the 2017 Tag Heuer Carrera Skipper, co-designed by HODINKEE and TAG Heuer to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Emil Mosbacher’s victory at America’s Cup…
This watch remains in the top 3 vintage Heuer grails, and will never cease to shine by its singular history and astonishing dial design, since there is still no equivalent 60 years later !