It's Here -- TAG Heuer Introduces the 2017 Autavia

On March 10, 2016, TAG Heuer announced that it would re-issue the Autavia in 2017, and that it would stage the “Autavia Cup” competition for enthusiasts to select the vintage Autavia that would inspire the new model.  This morning, 377 days after this announcement, TAG Heuer has released the first images of the new Autavia, along with full details about the watch.

The winner of the Autavia Cup, the “Jochen Rindt” Autavia, circa 1966, alongside the new 2017 Autavia. Images sized to scale, with the Rindt being 39 millimeters and the new Autavia being 42 millimeters.

The very first deliveries of the 2017 Autavia will be made in Basel, to some folks who pre-ordered the watch.  It should be available through the normal retail channels very quickly after the Basel show.  The 2017 Autavia will be offered on the leather strap at around $4,950 (4,600 euro) or on a newly-designed beads-of-rice bracelet, described below, at a slight premium.

This posting will present a few of the first images released by TAG Heuer, and also serve as a place to follow news about the release and coverage of the new Autavia, as it unfolds at Baselworld.

Reviews of the New Autavia

Here are some of the first reviews of the new Autavia:

Day Two (Thursday, March 23, 2017)

Presentation of the 2017 Autavia.  The new Autavia was presented by Jan-Claude Biver, Jack Heuer and Patrick Dempsey, and the presentation was available “Live” on Instagram.  Here are a couple of highlights relating to the new Autavia.

  • The new Autavia will be available in retail channels within three weeks . . . so let’s assume the middle of April
  • In his remarks, Jean-Claude Biver spoke of the importance of the collectors community to the TAG Heuer brand.  Yes, it was this community that demanded (requested?) and then selected the new Autavia.  With prices of the vintage models going so high, the new 2017 Autavia will make one of the classics available to today’s collectors and enthusiasts.
  • Jean-Claude Biver announced that TAG Heuer would offer a Limited Edition of the Autavia in November 2017, to celebrate Jack Heuer’s 85th birthday.  The watch will be limited to 1932 pieces, and although Mr. Biver would not describe the watch, the (loud) whispers and (widespread) rumors suggest that the Jack Heuer Limited Edition will have a silver / white dial, with a solid back (marked to commemorate Jack Heuer’s 85th birthday).  We expect the bezel to be marked for Minutes / Hours, rather than only the hours.  We will likely have more on this Limited Edition Autavia, in the near term.

Vintage Autavia, Reference 2446C SN (silver dial)

Collectors in Paradise.  Several members of the vintage Heuer collectors community are in Basel, and they will take delivery of some of the first Autavias (pre-paid, at the retail price, I might add).  This photo from Abel Court shows the similarity of the 2017 Autavia and the “Transitional” Autavia from the 1960s.  Just amazing!!

And It’s in the Catalog — Pricing.  Got to say that, after living with this new Autavia, or at least the concept of this new Autavia, for over a year, it almost seemed surreal to go to TAGHeuer.com and see the 2017 Autavia in the line-up of TAG Heuer watches.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that the bracelet adds only $150 to the price of the Autavia, making it $5,300 compared with $5,150 for the Autavia on the leather strap.  At least for the vintage enthusiasts, who see the original double grains-of-rice bracelets selling for up to $5,000, this will be an easy decision.

Day One (Wednesday, March 22, 2017)The 2017 Autavia made its debut on several of the discussion forums where the Heuer guys hang out, and the new watch received an excellent reception. Some of the more active discussions were on WatchProsite, TimeZone and OnTheDash.  As you might imagine, the new Autavia was the center of the discussion on the Facebook Group — International Vintage Heuer Owner’s Club.

The new Autavias on display and being delivered at Baselworld were shown on a lot of wrists.  Get a sense of what it looks like on the wrist, via the Instagram hashtag — #Autavia.

First Photos of the 2017 Autavia

The first photos released by TAG Heuer confirm that the new Autavia will have a vintage look, especially with the look of aged lume on the dial and hands. The brown leather strap is consistent with this look, with an aged finish.

The registers are consistent with what we saw on the two previous prototypes — sunken construction, with concentric circles all around (referred to as “snailed” or “azurage”).  The polished steel hands and markers are consistent with the historic predecessor, the Rindt Autavia.  The hour bezel, as favored by enthusiasts, is the one selected by TAG Heuer for the new Autavia.

The date is presented quietly, in a small window in the running seconds register, at 6 o’clock.  The minute register, at 3 o’clock on the dial, is marked only for 10-20-30, rather than having hash-marks for each minute.

There has been great excitement about TAG Heuer offering the new Autavia on a grains-of-rice bracelet, in the style that Heuer used from the mid-1960s into the 1980s.  These bracelets are cherished by collectors, with the rarest among the vintage bracelets sometimes changing hands for prices in the $5,000 range (that’s the bracelet, not the watch).

The new bracelet looks great, and it’s interesting to see the “Heuer” on the clasp, which matches the Heuer logo on the dial.

No doubt, the vintage enthusiasts will be filing and grinding these new bracelets, to fit onto the 1960s and 1970s models, or perhaps someone will offer the required end-links.

The 2017 Autavia will be the first model to be powered by the new Heuer 02 movement.  In a previous posting, we covered the history of this movement, which was first mentioned by TAG Heuer in 2013.  To answer the most common questions — the movement is a column wheel design, with a vertical clutch.  It has an 80-hour power reserve, and beats at 28,800 VPH (which explains why the hash marks on the dial have 1/4 second spacing).

Some have questioned placing the “Heuer 02” on the dial, but I like it.  The new movement is a point of pride for the TAG Heuer brand, and a worthy companion of the Calibre 1887.  With this being the first watch to be powered by the movement, it seems appropriate to mark it on the dial.  It’s interesting that TAG Heuer still marks the dials of the Calibre 1887 Carreras with the movement reference, an interesting way of letting prospective customers see that this one is powered by one of the brand’s premium movements.

This new Heuer 02 movement is relatively simple, in its construction, and is expected to provide the base movement to support a variety of complications.  Having been successful in their demands for a re-issue of the Autavia, expect to soon begin hearing the drum beat for a GMT version, which should be feasible by modifying the Heuer 02 movement.

Technical details (from TAG Heuer’s press release announcing the 2017 Autavia)

References

  • CBE2110.FC8226 with brown strap
  • CBE2110.BA0687 with 7-row steel “Grains of rice” bracelet

Movement

  • Heuer 02 Manufacture – automatic chronograph with date
  • 80-hour power reserve

Case

  • Diameter 42 mm – in polished steel
  • Polished steel horns with 2 facets
  • Notched black aluminium bezel with hour gradations, bidirectional rotation
  • Scratch-resistant sapphire crystal with anti-reflection coating and fluted steel crown
  • Polished steel mushroom push-buttons and sapphire case-back

Dial

  • Black opaline – date window at 6 o’clock
  • Three white snailed counters:
    – Chronograph minute counter at 3 o’clock
    – Chronograph hour counter at 9 o’clock
    – Small seconds counter at 6 o’clock
  • Rhodium-plated applique indices, with polished and satin-finished top, with beige SuperLuminova™ highlights and minute track
  • Rhodium-plated beige SuperLuminova™ hour and minute hands
  • Black varnished chronograph hands
  • White varnished chronograph seconds hand
  • “Heuer” logo and “AUTAVIA” inscription at 12 o’clock, “HEUER-02” inscription at 6 o’clock

Water-resistance

  • 100 metres

Strap

  • In vintage brown calfskin leather with ecru top-stitching
  • Polished pin buckle with Heuer logo

Jeff Stein
March 22, 2017

Heuer Logo (White on Black)