Otto Crocker’s Heuer
I’ve long admired Otto Crocker and have written about him many times. For the uninitiated, Otto is the godfather of modern racing timing devices found everywhere from Bonneville to your local drag strip. Essentially, he was the first to introduce light based timing to American motorsports with his incredibly accurate (even by today’s standards) “Crocker Timer.”
I’m also a watch guy. I haven’t always been serious about it, but when my dad passed away and left me his pretty intense collection, I became pretty sober about it all. And Otto has always been my excuse to tie watches and hot rods together… In fact, I’ve been talking to different watch makers for years about creating a watch comparable to what Otto would have used when he first came up with his idea for the “Crocker Timer” in the late 1940’s.
I’ve had no luck finding a proper watchmaker that shares my passion and my vision for a “Crocker Watch,” but recently got a really interesting email from a guy that has what is probably the most complete collection of “Crocker Timers” in the world. It’s a source that I trust (because of images he has sent me in the past), but not one that I know all that well. Here’s the text:
“Ryan, I know you are into Otto Crocker. I recently purchased a Heuer Chronograph at auction. While researching the numbers, I found that it was made in 1941 and first sold to Crocker Time in San Diego, CA shortly thereafter. There is no way to prove this is the watch that Otto personally wore, but it’s as close as we will ever get to it. Picture attached.”
Now… Is this Otto’s personal watch? I have no idea, but I’ve done all the research that I can do. What you see is what I believe to be a Heuer 41452 made in 1941. It’s a manual wind chronograph with a tachymeter consistent to what Otto mentions in his 1951 Popular Mechanics article. Hell even the tachymeter reads in units per hour which was pretty rare for the time. So yeah, it very well could be…
In any case, I know this isn’t entirely on topic to The Jalopy Journal but I thought you guys might get a kick out of it. Old shit is just cool…