Sometimes even a blind squirrel finds a nut. I was wandering around an antiques dealer in Buffalo, NY last summer and happened upon TAG Heuer 1000 Submariner Diver watch for $25.

So, that happened.

I sat on it for a while, but once I moved down to Miami I decided I was going to find out if we could make it run.  I had the repairs team here pry it open and have a look. Not surprisingly, the gasket was shot, since the watch is somewhere around thirty years old. So we replaced that. TAG makes a great watch though, and once we replaced the battery, the ETA 955.114 quartz movement fired right up, and we set the time and date. (By the way, feel free to read our TAG Heuer watches brand history on site.)

Tag Heuer 980.021N ETA 955.114 Quartz Movement
Tag Heuer 980.021N ETA 955.114 Quartz Movement

I still have a lot of work to do to bring it to “display quality,” however. The crystal is fairly scratched up, but I found several online in the $25 range, so that shouldn’t be too difficult.

A bigger concern is the crown, which is chewed up significantly. I highly doubt I’ll be able to find a precise replacement, so I’ll have to get something similar and make do. Or simply consider it a war wound that adds character. We’ll see.

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I believe the bracelet is the original from pictures I’ve seen, but I’m not 100% positive. It’s loose now, so I was thinking I might grab a black and gold NATO strap and see if I like the look. I’ve seen a rare blue faced version of this watch online with a NATO strap, and it looks pretty tight, so I think that could work out.

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I wasn’t able to locate a lot of information about this watch on the internet, but there are a couple of interesting similar projects either fully or partially documented in different places.

There’s this thread at Watchuseek, as well as a great post and photos over at Heuerville. The Heuerville post actually isn’t about the N version, but it’s still very similar. I’m going to try to find out the actual differences if I can. The Heuerville post also has some of the original catalog photos, which is great. Provenance, as they say.

As for value, I’ve seen auctions for this watch online that usually end somewhere between $500 and $700, which is not a bad return on investment for me. It’s the only TAG I own though, so I won’t be in a big hurry to sell it.

I also had a very interesting discussion with the antiques dealer about why he didn’t have many watches available. Sure, it’s Buffalo and not Miami, but more so he indicated that as gold and silver prices rose, many people came in and just bought his inventory just to melt it down. One has to wonder how much of our history was lost in the last twenty years for reasons like that.

So what was your biggest watch steal at an antiques dealer? We’d love to hear the story if you’d like to share it in comments below. And I’ll post an update once the watch is ready for prime time.

UPDATE:  Calibre11 did a fantastic write up on the Tag Heuer 1000 this week (as a redo of a much older article).