Shortly before and after TAG's takeover of Heuer in the mid-1980s, it produced a line of legendary divers, first in Monin, France, with automatic movements, and subsequently in Switzerland with Swiss quartz movements - the example here is one of those latter divers, a mid-1980s TAG Heuer 2000 Ref. 972.013 Professional dive watch, on its original Heuer-signed bracelet.
This quintessential no-nonsense Heuer tool watch was produced between circa 1981-4, but in some important way it continued to be made throughout the 1990s (more on this below). For a brief history of these amazing Heuer divers, as noted in a fascinating Hodinkee article, “A Personal Note: Marking Time With A Humble Heuer” - “In 1980, Heuer decided it was time to build a proper dive watch. Sure, years earlier, it had fitted its "Automotive-Aviation" Autavia chronograph with a diving bezel, but the brand was largely focused on motorsports watches, which is where it had built its reputation."
But in the late 1970s, as Jack Heuer tells it in his autobiography, “The Times Of My Life,” Heuer was at a sporting goods trade show in Europe and was approached by a diving equipment company having trouble finding quality dive watches.
Before that fateful show, Heuer was not doing well as a company and its situation had begun deteriorating as early as late 1974 (along with most of the Swiss watchmaking industry, badly hit by the quartz crisis caused by Seiko). Quartz watches were more technically advanced than mechanical watches, and at a lower price point too, making them fierce competitors for the traditional Swiss companies.
It is in this grim context Heuer saw an opportunity at that 1979 trade show. Heuer got the idea to address a recurrent complaint voiced regarding the difficulty in finding reliable private label watches for underwater sports – Heuer’s expertise at this time was racing chronographs, but it took the challenge regardless, and teamed up with French supplier G. Monnin. Per Heuer, “To our great surprise our new diving watches were very well received by the market,” he said. So much so, in fact, that the following year Heuer began offering the Diver Professional in four different sizes and a multitude of dial configurations.
After a year of outsourcing to Monnin, Heuer took over the manufacturing of the Ref. 844, re-named the 980.XXX, and sold in a myriad of versions, with different case sizes in gold or steel (even two-tone), a PVD version (both black and camo green), and orange, black, and full-lume dials, all with bracelet or rubber strap. Most came in four different sizes (28mm, 32mm, 38mm, and 42mm, with different finishes – and yes, even a full lume dial variant.
But did Heuer’s overall efforts help the company?
As Hodinkee tells it, “When it comes to vintage Heuer, it's the historic chronographs that constantly grab the headlines. I mean, who hasn't recently read a story about some uber-rare, record-breaking Autavia, Carrera, or Monaco? Yet, there's one watch that played a critical role in Heuer’s history that remains almost entirely overlooked. Its stunning success was unexpected and came at the best possible time for the company. In Jack Heuer’s own words: “We could not imagine that this model would be the very watch that was to help the company recover.” Surprisingly, this glorious hero was not a chronograph – hell, most of the time it's powered by a quartz movement. This is the Heuer Diver Professional…”
The Heuer diver “…immediately sold very well for Heuer, and continued to do so even after Heuer became TAG Heuer in 1985. After the merger, the line was kept as is, and quickly expanded… [and] eventually became the Aquaracer in 2004. Looking at the history, the real impact of the Heuer Professional is striking: In some form or another, these dive watches have been a best-seller for (TAG) Heuer since 1979! There was no formal endorsement, although it was recently discovered that Timothy Dalton wore two examples in the James Bond film "The Living Daylights." If you have read Jack Heuer’s biography you might also remember the actress Bo Derek sporting a ladies’ piece, naked on a beach (you won’t find the picture here, but it's page 258 of Jack’s biography).”
The Heuer Professional diver line represents an excellent example of a watch value proposition: a tool watch from a respectable brand that you can wear with confidence, at a good price.
This Heuer 962.013 diver comes on its original Heuer-signed bracelet, and with nylon strap, rugged travel case, and springbar tool.
1985 TAG Heuer 2000 Ref. 972.013 Dive Watch, w/Original Bracelet
DIAL: Signed grey Heuer dial with matching black “church” hour, minute, and second hands; lume shines.
CASE: Pewter case measures 34mm (38mm w/crown) x 40mm, with matching caseback. Bezel remains in good condition, and rotates counter-clockwise - with a solid rachet - as designed. Lume triangle in bezel insert remains intact, and insert is in overall great condition.
CRYSTAL: Crystal is crack and deep scratch-free.
BAND: This Heuer comes on its original Heuer-signed bracelet, which will fit up to an approx. 7.25 inch wrist (or 8.25 inch if the wetsuit extension is utilized). This diver also comes with a blue, white, and red nylon strap.
MOVEMENT: Heuer quartz movement.
CROWN: Signed stainless-steel screw-down crown.