A couple of months back, Ben Clymer published a Reference Points article and video focused on the Heuer Carrera, a vintage model that is very much core to Hodinkee. With the help of TAG Heuer’s Heritage Director Nicholas Biebuyck, the project detailed 56 unique Carrera variants. Today we add a new variant to that list and to all of Heuer collecting. Confirmed by Biebuyck, this is the very first Heuer Carrera with a Car and Driver double-signed dial known to the vintage best replica watches world.
This 1967 Heuer Carrera reference 3647S comes directly to Hodinkee from the original owner, former Car and Driver Associate Editor and former US Army Green Beret, Bill Fishburne.
As the first two-register UK cheap fake TAG Heuer Carrera watches, the ref. 3647 was first offered in either 1963 or 1964, just a short time after the first three-register ref. 2447. The lack of a third register at six o’clock made way for some creativity as it’s this reference we find with most of the double-signed or logo dials. Under the clearly-used original crystal of this Carrera is a nearly blemish-free silver dial stamped with the three-color Car and Driver logo.
Overall, the watch is in outstanding condition having never been polished or, likely, serviced over the years. The tritium luminous material in the hands and at each hour marker is full, having aged to a pleasing creamy tone. When vintage Heuer collectors lay their heads at night, this is exactly the condition they dream about – untouched and original. The sharp lines of the iconic Carrera case really sing when found unpolished, taking the high quality replica watches to truly another level visually. The caseback is engraved with “Bill Fishburne 1967.”
Double-Signed 1960s Heuer Carreras
As described in Reference Points, one of Jack Heuer’s first goals after joining the company officially in 1958 was to establish a presence in the U.S. Rather than using a third-party distributor as many competitors did at the time, Jack cut out the middleman, establishing Heuer Time Corporation – a fully-owned American subsidiary. As a part of this larger effort to grow the U.S. business, Heuer selectively partnered with clients here in the States to create special double-stamped dials. Each has a unique story of how they came to be some more obvious such as those stamped with MG logos and driver names or the “Wing and Wheel” of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway while others are a bit of a mystery to uncover like those made for Arcola Country Club in New Jersey.
Luckily, the newest addition to the world of double-signed luxury TAG Heuer Carrera copy watches comes to the collecting world straight from the source, the original owner, taking out a lot of the guesswork.
The Man and The Story
In late 1965, Bill Fishburne found himself nearing the end of his undergraduate degree at North Carolina State University where he served as Co-Editor of NC State’s student newspaper, theTechnician. On the other side of this story was David E. Davis Jr., the editor of the well-known auto enthusiast magazine Car and Driver. Leading a small team of journalists who had a penchant for “telling it like it is” with just enough pithy commentary to enthrall a growing community of car enthusiasts, Davis was described by the New York Times as a “combative swashbuckler who encouraged criticism of the cars tested, even at the risk of losing advertising.”
With graduation on the horizon and as an avid reader of Car and Driver, Fishburne “punched off” a letter with his accomplishments and mailed it up to Car and Driver’s office at One Park Avenue in New York City. This initial letter ended: “As you have noted, I have very little modesty. Further bulletins concerning my progress, and examples of my writing will be forwarded to you at irregular intervals.”
That shot in the dark began a months-long typewritten letter correspondence between young Fishburne and the legendary Davis, trading technical chops, a heavy mix of quips very much in the style of 1960s C+D, and ending with Davis extending an invite to the “pagan metropolis” for “Thanksgiving with the Davises (Mr., Mrs. and three children) plus various halt and lame enthusiasts, journalists, un-public figures, and like that.” By the August 1966 issue, Fishburne was listed as Associate Editor of Car and Driver.
Concurrently, as described in his autobiography The Times of My Life, Jack Heuer was amidst his push into the U.S. market. In 1963, Heuer hired its first ad agency in New York and ironed out a strategy to buy out beautiful full-page color ads in magazines, “publications such as Sports Illustrated and Car and Driver.” That game plan eventually put Heuer’s first ad in Car and Driver’s December 1966 issue, as confirmed by our friend Nick Federowicz of Ad Patina.
Fishburne’s time at the magazine was ultimately short-lived. From mid-1966 until March of 1967, he worked on every issue, editing for technical accuracy and ghost-writing most of the non-bylined “Road Test” features. Notably, Fishburne was tasked as Managing Editor for the 1967 C+D Yearbook, penning the “Road Test” feature on Shelby American’s Mustang GT-500. He was honored as 1967’s Outstanding Young Writer by Autovisie, a dutch automotive publication. Sometime between Heuer’s first advertisement and his departure, Fishburne recalls Davis presenting him with this now exceptionally rare perfect replica TAG Heuer Carrera watches.
Given the backstory of other double-signed Heuers from this period, we know that most trace a history directly through Jack Heuer himself. Fishburne remembers Heuer and Davis having a friendship – the Swiss made super clone watches is likely a result. Through research done by Jeff Stein of On The Dash and Biebuyck, we also know that these special dials were commonly produced in batches of about ten. Fishburne did let me know that a few other examples were worn around the C+D office so this is likely not the only one, but the first known.
In March of ’67, Fishburne accepted a position with Philip Morris installing hydraulic machinery in Melbourne, Australia, then was hired on at British American Tobacco in Napier, New Zealand to do similar work. All the while, the 2023 fake TAG Heuer Carrera watches was on his wrist. His stint in Oceania was cut short in May by a telegram from his father that he had four days to return to his hometown of Asheville, North Carolina. His number had been called and on June 1, 1967, Fishburne was sworn into the United States Army.
The Heuer remained Fishburne’s daily China replica watches throughout his time in the Army, only leaving his wrist when necessary, replaced by a standard issue field watch. He completed Basic Training, Officer Candidate School, Mortar Gunner School, Airborne School, and, eventually, became a Special Forces soldier or a “Green Beret.” Fishburne served as Officer in Charge of the U.S. Army Southern Operations (USARSO) Parachute Team, a detachment of the 8th Special Forces Group in Panama. Over most of his 500 exhibitions and jumps, the Carrera was on his wrist. Fishburne was discharged from the Army in 1971 as a First Lieutenant.
After his service, Fishburne returned to the States and resumed a career in motorsports as the director of public relations for The International Motor Sports Association, or IMSA, helping to put on races all over the east coast. A year later he took a position with BF Goodrich and in 1973, traveled to Le Mans to support the company’s sponsorship of John Greenwood’s Corvette C3. Fishburne timed laps at Le Mans with his TAG Heuer Carrera fake watches online as “it was a working chronograph for me at that point, not a showpiece.”
Following his time with BF Goodrich, Fishburne did some racing of his own while living and working in Chicago. Still in PR professionally, weekend racing was his main hobby – getting behind the wheel of a Saab across the midwest sponsored by the brand’s US subsidiary, Saab-Scania of America. The Carrera with his former employer’s logo stamped on the dial served as a worthy companion.
Getting to know Fishburne, his story, and, in tandem, the story of this rare Heuer has been one of the joys of my time at Hodinkee. Vintage replica watches for men are just as much about the life or possible life that the object has lived as they are tools or pieces of design. I will never pass up an opportunity to uncover and maintain these stories.
At some point after his time racing, Fishburne’s Carrera stopped working. He took it off and forgot about it until now. After seeing Reference Points on Hodinkee and not seeing his replica watches shop on the table, he reached out. Fishburne’s “Car and Driver” Carrera in as-found condition will eventually make its way to the TAG Heuer Museum.