Augustman

THE LOWDOWN

The new Autavia watch is less ove ly motorspo s inclined and feels more like a blend of the aviation and automobile roots that originally gave it its name. Note, however, that this also distances the new watch away from its predecesso­rs that were made fro

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TAG HEUER HAS REVIVED the historic Autavia as a collection in itself, with the inaugural time-only model coming in seven references featuring various colourways and materials. The watches are priced between $4,900 and $6,050 ‒ a compelling value propositio­n considerin­g the proprietar­y, cutting-edge hairspring that’s beating inside each of these timepieces.

The Timing Instrument Of Yore

The Autavia started out not as a wristwatch, but as a chronograp­h that was mounted on car dashboards and cockpit instrument panels. Its very name, a contractio­n of AUTomobile and AVIAtion, alluded to its intended markets. These dashboard/cockpit instrument­s were produced from 1933 to 1957 by Heuer; the TAG Group would only purchase the company to form TAG Heuer in 1985, before the brand’s takeover by LVMH in 1999.

Although the Autavia was discontinu­ed in 1957, its trademark remained available. Because of this, Heuer’s then CEO Jack Heuer, incidental­ly the great-grandson of its founder Edouard Heuer, decided to introduce a wristwatch bearing the Autavia moniker. To that end, he designed a chronograp­h with a heavy emphasis on legibility while also giving it two defining features: a rotating bezel and snailed subdials. These establishe­d the design codes of the Autavia that remain today.

The new Autavia watch was released in 1962 and coincided with the golden age of motor racing, when legends like Jacky Ickx pushed the boundaries of what man and machine were each capable of ‒ both individual­ly and in tandem. This saw the watch pivot away from its aviation roots towards a focus on motorsport­s. The Autavia quickly grew to become an important pillar for Heuer, and its production lasted over two decades before ceasing in 1985. Wellpreser­ved examples from this period are becoming increasing­ly sought-after, if pre-owned and auction prices are anything to go by.

The Icon Returns?

The renewed interest in the Autavia didn’t go unnoticed. TAG Heuer decided to reissue the watch in 2016 by using online voting to narrow down the exact reference to reproduce from an initial selection of

16. Over 50,000 votes were casted, as a testament to the attention that the process was getting. The winner: the Autavia Ref. 2446 Mark 3 ‘Rindt’ nicknamed after Formula One champion Jochen Rindt, who was often spotted wearing it.

Unveiled in 2017 and officially named the Heuer Heritage Calibre Heuer 02, the ‘Autavia 2017 reissue’ belongs to TAG Heuer’s Heritage collection, and remains in production today. It created quite a buzz, to put mildly. Barring a couple of limited edition timepieces based on this watch, however, it seemed like the Autavia’s return would be limited to this single model.

Thankfully, the overwhelmi­ng response to the reissue didn’t go unnoticed either, as TAG Heuer’s reintroduc­tion of the Autavia as a standalone collection in 2019 showed.

A New Chapter

As mentioned, the new Autavia line consists of a single time-only model with seven variants. The watches haven’t just lost the chronograp­h complicati­on ‒ in lieu of reproducin­g or modifying vintage references, TAG Heuer has opted to revamp the watch’s design and technical features to invoke the original’s traits of legibility, ruggedness and precision.

The new timepieces begin with a

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Vintage Autavia
RIGHT
Heuer Heritage Calibre Heuer 02 (2017)
LEFT Vintage Autavia RIGHT Heuer Heritage Calibre Heuer 02 (2017)
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