Vintage watches have the ability to bring the OCD out of everyone, and the watch before you is a great example of how one small change can make all the difference to a keen collector. The Carrera has been the centerpiece of Heuer since 1963, beginning with the reference 2447N, which featured a perfectly balanced and restrained all-black dial with long, thin applied hour markers and bright white accents. The 2447N was produced continuously throughout the 1960’s, eventually switching to a “second-execution” dial (which can be found here) that made subtle tweaks to the applied hour markers and hands, but retained the same basic dial layout. Sandwiched in between the two batches of 2447N’s, however, there exists a truly rare variation that squeaked out of the Heuer factory for a (very) short time: the reference 2447NT. The dial was similar to the first execution 2447N dial, in that it featured applied, thin indices and non-striped hour hands, but this version incorporated a base-200 tachymeter scale on the perimeter of the dial. The total number of 2447NTs originally produced is a mystery, though there are presently only five examples of the 2447NT that have surfaced publicly, with one residing in the Tag Heuer Museum. As far as rare Heuers go, this tiny dial addition elevates the NT into the upper echelon.
Like some of my other pieces, this was the combination of timing and luck. Calibre11.com and Jeff Stein (onthedash.com) had combined to write a piece on the rarity of the 2447NT (one of which Jeff bought at a Christies auction and subsequently sent to the museum), and one random night, I happened to stumble on it. In the comment section of the article, there was month-old comment that said “Great article… turns out I inherited one from my late father…Any thoughts on what it may be worth? I have considered selling.” I mentally accepted that someone else had likely beaten me to the punch some weeks ago, but figuring it was worthwhile to at least respond to the commenter – hope springs eternal, right? I quickly created a profile on Disqus and left a reply to the comment saying that I’d be happy to discuss the watch with him. Amazingly, the next morning I had a response.
More than anything, my focus was to make sure the owner appreciated what he had. Of course I would have loved to buy the watch, but if it was indeed an NT, the owner had a right to know just how special the inheritance had been. Over the course of a few emails, the owner revealed that his father had purchased the Carrera new in the 1960’s, but preferring gold dress watches, didn’t wear it often and ended up throwing it in a drawer. When Brendan (the son) got his first job after college, his father gave him the watch, as it was a proper timepiece that would match the suits his son would be wearing daily into the office. Brendan wore the watch for a little while until it started losing time and required a servicing – something that was quite the costly proposition for a fresh college graduate – and ultimately relegated the Carrera to “drawer duty” just like his father had.
After telling me about the watch’s history, Brendan mentioned that he had just dropped it off at a jeweler in order to get it serviced, and the jeweler wanted to “replace a few parts.” I snapped to DEFCON 1 (that’s the most extreme, right? If not, I went to whatever the highest DEFCON level is) and coached him through the entire servicing process, which started with not taking an extremely valuable vintage watch to a run of the mill jeweler. Thankfully, he was able to retrieve the watch from the jeweler before anything was done, and I was able to get him in touch with a legitimate watchmaker.
It didn’t end up mattering, though. A month later he reached back out and said that after thinking about it, he wanted to sell the watch and had appreciated the advice and guidance that I had provided to him. The opportunity to purchase a remarkably rare reference of my favorite watch (ever) was a dream come true for me, and I asked Brendan to name a price and promised that I’d meet it with no strings attached. He did. I did. And soon thereafter, I had this rare, rare bird strapped on my wrist.
The Fine Print
You’ve made it this far, but you may be wondering – why is this so special? Remember the OCD thing from up above? Well, that’s part of it, and I acknowledge that some may not care about the differences relative to a normal 2447N. For me, the base-200 tachymeter scale adds a dimension that is unique to black-dialed Carreras and visually separates this model from its contemporary Carreras (the most commonly-seen combination is the 2447NST, which combines a black dial with white sub-dials and a base-1000 tachy track on the outside). Then there’s the feeling of knowing this isn’t an artificially “rare” watch, like so many hyped vintage watches. The 2447NT is truly, stupidly rare. The only way to buy one is to track down one of the handful of owners and start pleading, because there simply is not an example on the market in a dealer’s hands. You can’t wear that aspect, and to brag about it openly borders on hubris (or at a minimum a lack of self-awareness), but it makes the watch undeniably cooler for anyone who is able to secure a well preserved example.
Thankfully, this example has wonderful patina that matches perfectly between the dial and the handset. The case has likely been polished once, but remains thick and the original lines are sharply intact. Like all other 2447’s, this is powered by the venerable Valjoux 72, which also happens to be in fantastic shape.