Belgian race car driver Jacky Ickx launched his own watch in the early 1970's, with the help of Jack Heuer and his Heuer watch brand. The Jacky Ickx Easy Rider watch was released for the first time circa 1971 and would remain in production until 1975, and it proved popular with a younger clientele and the now classic 1970s design have left the Easy Rider highly collectible commodities in the vintage watch market to this day. The Sears-signed dial variant of the Easy Rider here – which recently received a full service – is a confirmed model in the Heuer range, being an equivalent to the Jacky Ickx-signed variant in all but dial.
It is impossible to discuss this model without giving some background information to the Heuer Easy Rider and its close relative the Easy Rider Jacky Ickx - in 1972 Jack Heuer had the idea of launching a new Heuer model that would appeal to a fashionable younger audience. Heuer was a major sponsor of the Ferrari Formula 1 team, so it was a natural progression to have its new chronograph – the Easy Rider – endorsed by Ferrari driver Jacky Ickx. Youthful and dashing, the Belgian possessed the perfect image to market to promote this product to Heuer’s target audience. Jacky Ickx was one of the biggest figures in global motorsport by 1971, and he had already won the 24 Hours of Le Mans once 1969, behind the wheel of the legendary Ford GT, and would go on to win the endurance classic five more times in 1975-77, and 1981-82. Meanwhile, in his Formula One career, he’d come runner-up in the 1970 world championship standings for Scuderia Ferrari after doing the same the previous year for Brabham, and was the odds-on favorite to win the championship for the Scuderia in 1971 after 1970 world champion Jochen Rindt’s tragic death at the 1970 Italian Grand Prix.
What makes the watch for sale here so interesting is that it is, and equally isn’t, a Heuer Easy Rider. In every respect other than the dial, this model is an Easy-Rider, but the dial is actually signed “Sears, Chronograph, Swiss Made” and features no reference to either Easy Rider or Jacky Ickx whatsoever. Regardless, this is a true Heuer watch, despite the Sears dial. The most common story regarding the Sears variant is Heuer produced a run of Easy Riders for Sears at the same time Heuer offered the same watch, but with the standard Easy Rider dial signature, to its dealer network. This would scarecely be unique for Heuer, as it followed this example in other instances – like the Traditions, Mathey Prevot, and others lines like it. Another possibility if is that when Jacky Ickx suddenly left Ferrari for McLaren in mid-1973, Heuer was left with a considerable number of its Easy Rider-signed dial variants, which, still being a Ferrari sponsor, it couldn’t sell without causing at embarrassment. Selling these at a loss to Sears, sans any reference to Jacky Ickx or Easy Rider, would have resolved the matter, though certainly at a heavy financial loss to Heuer.
The dials on these vintage Heuer chronographs are some of the most eye catching that have ever been made. Even fifteen years ago, characteristically 1970s styling was something of a guilty pleasure, with its combination of bright colors set in horizontal bands running across the dial. Close comparison between the Jackie Ickx and Sears Easy Rider variants side by side confirms, other than wording, the two dials are identical, even to the extent Heuer used the same typeface for “Sears” as for its mainstream counterpart. The white outer band, the “Swiss Made” around the bottom edge and every other detail are also identical.
This Easy Rider comes with a leather rally strap, premium ZULU strap, pelican travel case, and springbar tool. For more on the Easy Rider and its fascinating heritage, see Calibre11’s authoritative history at https://www.calibre11.com/heuer-easy-rider/
1970s Heuer Easy Rider Mechanical Watch, Sears Variant
DIAL: Beautiful original Sears-signed dial, with no patina evident. Original sun hour, moon minute, and second hands. The dial and hands couldn’t be more representative of the 1970s, with the distinctive red stripes on the hour and minute hands mirroring the lines running across the dial, evocative of the famous Heuer Autavia. Oddly, despite this reference being heavily featured in Heuer advertising at the time, the Heuer name was never printed on the dial. Instead, it prominently displayed the Jacky Ickx signature and the Easy-Rider wording on the version with a date feature – several other variants were also sold, to include the Sear-branded one here.
CASE: Original 45.5mm (46mm w/crown) x 40mm steel monoblack oval lugless case (it’s one-piece nature means it has no caseback, and the movement is accessed via the front of the watch, akin to the Omega Dynamic of the same era); chromium plating remains complete, with little wear. Of note, most of these Heuer Easy Rider cases were made of fiberglass resin – the variant here is the more highly sought-after chromium plated version.
CRYSTAL: Domed crystal is scratch-free.
BAND: Dark brown leather rally strap, with cream-colored accent stitching and stainless-steel hardware. This Easy Rider comes with a red and cream-colored premium ZULU strap.
MOVEMENT: Ebauches Bettlach of Soleure Calibre EB8420 pin lever manual wind mechanical movement, with a running speed of 18,000bph – this movement received a full service in late September 2019.
CROWN: Original unsigned crown.
CHRONOGRAPH PUSHERS: Pushers depress with satisfying click. Chronograph hands snap back and reset to zero with no issue.