Heuer Camaro 7220 “Exotic”

As I write this in December 2016, the Heuer Camaro is the last of the (relatively) underappreciated 60’s Heuers. Carreras and Autavias have skyrocketed into the $40-125K price range for ultra rare models, but Camaros can still be found near the $4-6K mark in relatively good condition, and still well below $10K for the most rare variants. The Camaro shown here, a reference 7220 with the “exotic” layout, is one of the rarer and most sought-after variants, and it’s easy to see why. I had coveted one of these ever since I caught the Camaro bug and it took a long time to find an example worth pouncing on.

While I generally prefer to wait for an original owner or private collector piece to appear through more normal channels, there are certain situations where I accept that it may take a dealer to add a piece to my collection. The 7220 Exotic became one of those pieces within a few months of searching. If I saw a 7220 Exotic posted on the forums or on Instagram, I would reach out to gauge the owner’s interest in selling – always to no avail. After enough doors had been closed, it was time to consider the necessity of going through a dealer.

Many of you reading this are aware of Rare Birds, a vintage dealer in Germany. Andee seems to have a never-ending flow of gorgeous watches, and after seeing him post a great Zenith A386 on Instagram, I reached out. Unfortunately, that watch had already sold, but he mentioned that he had another great A386 coming soon and that I could hop to the front of the queue. When he eventually posted a preview of the second A386, I noticed a Camaro 7220 sharing the frame and quickly changed my game plan, asking if anyone had “dibs” on the Camaro. The answer was no, and three days later, I had the Camaro on my wrist. I guess the reality is that if you wait for every watch to have a crazy story (original owner, flea market find, eBay snipe), you’ll end up passing on a lot of fantastic watches in the process. It may not be my sexiest story, but I’m just happy to have this Camaro in the collection, regardless of how it got there.

It wouldn’t be a Bazamu story without some element of “the hunt,” however, and the bracelet that you see in the pictures here is a fun story to share. In 2016, a new poster showed up on Calibre11’s forums and asked for advice about selling a Camaro that he had inherited. The Camaro was a reference 73343 (fairly common) and was in okay shape, but what immediately drew my eye to the post was the Gay Freres double-grain “beads of rice” bracelet that was included with the watch. These bracelets are extremely rare and routinely sell for between $4,000-5,000 on their own (the ridiculousness of that sentence is not lost on me, I assure you), so the opportunity to potentially pick up a one-owner Camaro with the bracelet was extremely enticing. I fired off an email to the poster and waited…and waited…and gave up. Fast forward nearly a year later, when I was alerted that I had a new private message on the forum. Lo and behold, the seller had not sold the watch and was ready to sell ASAP at an agreeable price. As you can clearly see, the deal was struck, and the bracelet was added to my collection / outfitted on this exotic Camaro. Although I often have a hard time reconciling the prices being paid for parts in the current market (i.e. Omega Base 1000 bezels for $10K+, a double-grain GF bracelet for $5K), I consider this to be money well spent.

The Nitty Gritty

As with almost everything that Andee sells, this Camaro is a stunner. The case shows the fantastic, trademark sunburst polishing with its sharp edges. The dial and hands show terrific patina, and this variation is powered by the Valjoux 72 (which is an important distinction from the later Exotic Camaros, which were reference 73643 and came with the cam actuated Valjoux 7736).

There are a few small nits to pick, however. The sub-dial hands show a bit of flaking, the movement’s screws show definite wear, indicating frequent servicing over the years (or a couple times by a semi-competent watchmaker), and finally, I think the black stripe down the middle of the minute hand wore away (the patina is identical/original but only the hour hand has the stripe). With all of that said, these are issues that I was happy to overlook in order to have finally secured the 7220 Exotic.