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Vintage Heuer Discussion Forum
The place for discussing 1930-1985 Heuer wristwatches, chronographs and dash-mounted timepieces. Online since May 2003.
We've seen a few of these '82AF' Heuer pop up in recent times, and I kept threatening to do a write up of mine - so here it is!
Nearly 2 years, and this Mil issued Heuer is finally looking respectable... a short restoration journey...
more pics and research links are on my blog..
I’ll be honest.. when I bought this watch I originally thought it IDF issued, specifically from the Israel Air Force Helicopter Unit from the late ‘80’s. It came from a German trader who deals with contact based in Haifa who buys direct from military personnel. It turns out it was not IDF at all…
On a standard model, the main chrono hands are red-orange, and the tail end of the main sweep hands are black. Its common that the hand fade, but the black tail never fades. I’ve handled many Heuers with faded red hands and they fade to various colours - from pink to orange to yellowy, but never pure white.
It has been noted in the past, that some military issued Heuer were supplied with a different handset to the standard production models, often the handsets are white (as seen on IDF issued models). Heuer collector Arno Haslinger, who in a post on OTD, noted that often …“hands are white on IDF watches and orange on Argentina Airforce watches”.
82 AF 180 Markings
Like anyone buying a mil-watch, I wanted to find out the story behind the markings. I was optimistically confident that the military markings were genuine, but on the other hand, I couldn’t find any comparable evidence online to ‘back-up’ the markings. I mused that it’s highly unlikely that anyone would go the trouble of faking mil-markings that no one had ever seen before. If you’re going fake an IDF watch, just stamp M and 3 numbers, right?
Interestingly, I’ve seen many Lemania driven SAAF watches with the ‘AF’ marking accompanied by numbers, I guessed this proves the fact that AF is used for ‘Air Force’ in military watch marking, but I wasn’t sure..
So, I asked the Mil watch experts…
I posted up on a few forums, MWR and OTD to see if anyone could help with identification. Many suggestions and theories were put forward, including Israeli Air Force Flight Academy graduation gifts, plus other suggestions that didn’t hold water. Eventually, a break-through.. I had a theory put forward that made sense..
Thanks to ‘NetMatrix’ (aka Paul) on OTD who put me in touch with an African Mil watch expert, Neil Herbert, based in South Africa. After exchanging several emails, Neil believed that these markings could well be Kenyan Air Force (KAF).. or part of KDF (Kenyan Defence Force).. Specifically ‘Air Force 82’.. as he has seen similar '82 AF xxx' markings on other mil issue..
What is the 82 Air Force?
In 1st August 1982, there was a failed coup d'etat attempt to overthrow the Kenyan president. Lead by a group of Air Force officers (no aircrews), the failed attempt lead to the disbandment of the Air Force on 22nd Aug '82. It was reconstituted shortly after under tight Army control under the name '82 Air Force' (or 82 AF). It regained independent status beginning of 1994.
Kenyan Air Force: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenya_Air_Force
KAF Northrop F-5 Tiger II Fighter Jets. Since 1978, it is the KAF's main air defence fighter.
Kenyan AF 82 BAe Hawk Mk52, supplied around 1980, probably as a fast jet trainer.
Then, to my surprise, in January 2012, a fellow UK watch enthusiast, Dennis Davis, who had the very same model also with AF 82 markings, contacted me. Dennis’ example had a different issue no. 82 AF 163. He bought the watch several years ago, and at the time of purchase, the watchmaker thought the military markings were South African. The markings and their execution are identical to my example, with a unique number of course. This proves that the ‘82’ part is a constant, so reinforces the 82 Air Force theory. Both my example and Dennis’ have very heavily stuck markings, which was a worry with just one example, but with two, proves that they were simply struck with a rather heavy hand, as opposed to a bad ‘faking’.
Furthermore, as I type this out, there is another example on eBay, being sold by a Canadian dealer, which has the issue number 82 AF 112.
More 82 AF Heuers…
Apart from these two 510.501 Heuers, I knew of no other Heuers with 82 AF markings, then another break-through. A mil watch collector posted up 3-4 of his very rare military issued Autavias on OTD’s Heuer forum. One model, a 11063 from c82-85, also had 82 AF stamps on the caseback, very similar to those on the 510.501’s. Wonderful news, and confirmation that the Kenyan 82 Air Force were supplied with Heuers for issue.
So, many of you will be looking at the watch shouting.. it can’t be a 510.501 because that was the black PVD model. Yes, you are quite right.. it was.
The watch was in a bad way when I got it. Chipped & scratched glass that had been crudely glued in place, poorly fitted crown, that looked like it had been fitted with a monkey wrench – as there was a huge amount of PVD missing from around the crown area of the case with some gouging. The PVD was badly chipped everywhere. Now, I’m all for keeping a watch original, especially when it’s seen military service, but this one was bloody awful, so I set about doing a sympathetic restoration.
I decided to not touch the dial and hands, apart from remove the excess glue from the tachy ring (from where the crystal being glued in place). With the case, I opted to have it lightly bead-blasted, but keep it’s little dings, scrapes and ‘life history’. The crown had already been replaced with a like-for-like but in stainless steel, so I left that as it. The pushers I dismantled and painstakingly removed the PVD using very fine wet n dry paper and then polished to a high gloss with a cape code cloth.
I decided to fit a mil-style bracelet (with wider link gaps), similar to a genuine Heuer type seen on a mil Autavia I’d seen. I hunted around and found a great 22mm bracelet from Watch-band-centre. I could have fitted a straight 20mm bracelet, but these 510 series, along with many Heuers, were originally fitted with cut-in bracelets, so I custom filed the 22mm endlinks down to fit the 20mm lugged case. The bracelet was brush finished, so I sent that off with the case to get blasted. Although the case had already been blasted, it was done again to ensure a perfect match between bracelet and case. They both were treated to an ultra-sonic bath spa to get rid of all the grime.
Finally it went away to be re-assembled & have new glass and gaskets fitted (Thanks James), then sent aware to Steve at Rytetime for a full overhaul and service. It’s taken 22 months to get to this stage, and I have to say it’s looking rather good – I’ve also opted to retains its slight wonky crown (stem), which I kinda like.. it connects it to it’s story. Part of me thinks it actually looks too clean, I’ve resisted dropping the case into a jar of nuts & bolts & giving it a good shake.. but I think it’s ready for another 30 years of abuse & wabi to collect on it.
Dismantle.. dial looks nice.. with some well earned wabi...
Removing the PVD from the pushers.. a bit of wet n dry and cape cod polishing cloth made short work of it...
Both pushers looking nice...
The original PVD case was in a bad way.. so I decided to get it blasted, but keep the dings and knocks...
I bought a new military style 22mm bracelet.. but had to file 1mm off each end...
check fitment of endlinks...
Looks good.. but it's a brush finish.. so it went off for blasting too...
Tachy ring back in case..
and dropped the movement in.. ready for a well earned service at Rytetime...
The old thing came back from a well earned service Steve at Rytetime, together with a new glass fitted by James, and the freshly blasted bracelet.. and it's good to go for another 30 years....