It is impossible to deny the fascination that surrounds watches worn by famous people. Just think about the “Paul Newman” Rolex Daytona, the “Ed White” Omega Speedmaster, or any of the great missing watches that we compiled. The Heuer Carrera worn by actor James Garner obviously belongs in this category, so you can imagine what a big deal it was when the tag heuer carrera nismo calibre 16 recently reemerged – especially since this allowed us to finally solve a long-standing mystery surrounding its custom dial.
This whole story started with a single tweet from two vintage Heuer enthusiasts. The pair shared a picture showing actor James Garner wearing a vintage Heuer Carrera in the classic TV show The Rockford Files. In an unexpected turn of events, Garner’s daughter liked the mention, and got in touch with the two collectors to show them the watch, and to provide additional insights into this very special chronograph.
James Garner wearing the Heuer Carrera on The Rockford Files (Photo: Courtesy Calibre 11)
James Garner is not only famous for his roles in Maverick, The Great Escape, Space Cowboys, and more recently The Notebook – he is also admired by vintage watch collectors for his excellent taste in watches. In particular, the two Heuer Carreras that he wore in many of his movies stand out. The black Heuer reference 3647N spotted on his wrist in The Rockford Files gets most of the attention.
Heuer enthusiasts are as passionate and detail-oriented as you can imagine, and some had indeed noticed that the dial bore an unusual line of text at the bottom. But, previously, they had not been able to make out exactly what it said, despite many screen caps and some intense sleuthing. James Garner’s daughter bringing the watch forward, though, blew the case wide open, so to speak.
The custom printing on the dial is finally revealed. (Photo: Courtesy Calibre 11)
That additional line of white text turns out to be the name of the actor. Something similar has also seen on some Carreras with MG branding, as a point of reference. It might sound like a small detail, but for many Heuer enthusiasts it is a crucial discovery, silencing much speculation on what this unusually long line could have been. While the specific reason behind this printing is unknown, the condition of the watch itself shows that this Carrera was a daily wearer for James Garner, not a piece that he only wore on screen.
This chronograph takes on additional meaning when considering James Garner’s involvement in motorsports too. Much like Steve McQueen or Paul Newman, Garner did not only play a racer on-screen in the movie Grand Prix (1966), he also owned a racing team that competed at LeMans, Daytona, and Sebring from 1967 to 1969. In that setting, his Heuers played significant roles, including a stopwatch that his daughter also unveiled.
The Carrera was not the only Heuer toolwatch owned by James Garner. (Image courtesy of Calibre 11)
The Aquaracer is now accessible in either a NATO inspired blue camouflage search or perhaps a khaki print. Both designs characteristic Tag Heuer’s automatic Calibre five movement with date in the 43mm sandblasted titanium situation and also a sapphire crystal with anti-reflection coating. The robust lightweight timepiece is water resistant as much as 300 meters, and features a ceramic bezel by using a minute track.
Check out the full story about this exceptionally interesting Heuer chrongraph on Calibre 11.