. . . and the Orange Boy Makes Five -- TAG Heuer's New Autavias

Writing about watches (or just about anything else) can be frustrating.

In February, I was excited about the four Autavias that TAG Heuer has introduced over the past year, and have two of them in my collection.  I wanted to write a review of all four models, so I borrowed the two that I didn’t own; spent a couple of evenings with my camera; tapped out the first thousand words of a posting; and seemed ready to post the definitive review of these four TAG Heuer Autavias. It was mid-March and I was half-way done with the posting . . . this was smooth sailing, all the way.

It would be a fun posting.  Others have written detailed reviews of these four Autavias, but I was enthusiastic about publishing the first posting to cover all four of them, side-by-side.  And I couldn’t imagine that anyone else had strapped all four models to a box level, suspended them with Magic Arms, put them under 2000 watts of light, and taken the family photo.  Yes, I was excited about this posting.

The first sign of trouble came with the request from a friend at Hodinkee to borrow my vintage “Orange Boy” Autavia for a photo shoot.  Suspicion morphed into alarm when the crew at Hodinkee shared a photo showing the fifth Autavia to be introduced, on May 31, 2018 — the TAG Heuer Autavia for Hodinkee, which we all know will forever be called called the “Orange Boy”.  Just a few minutes ago, Hodinkee officially announced the availability of the new “Orange Boy” Autavia for Hodinkee.

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TAG Heuer 2017 Autavia -- Detailed Look

TAG Heuer introduced its new Autavia in March 2017, at Baselworld, and the watch is now available worldwide through TAG Heuer dealers.  I purchased my new Autavia in May, and have provided my impressions of the watch — through the first eight days on the wrist — in an interview with Stephen Pulvirent, which has been published on Hodinkee.   The posting below offers some  basic information about the new Autavia, as well as some “live” photos from my first month with the watch.


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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.

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Green Flag -- A Preview of TAG Heuer's Newest Racing Autavia

Three days from now, on March 23, 2017, TAG Heuer will introduce its new Autavia, at the Baselworld show. Today, we provide the essential background information to introduce the newest member of the TAG Heuer family. While we are confident that the new Autavia will stand on its own, it may look even better to those who appreciate the watch’s rich history.

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Jean-Claude Biver Introduces the New Autavia (and the Past and Future of TAG Heuer)

On September 11 through 13, 2016, TAG Heuer hosted its first Collectors Summit of the Jean-Claude Biver era, at company headquarters in Switzerland. To open the Summit, Mr. Biver (CEO of TAG Heuer and President of the LVMH Watch Division) welcomed the Summit participants at the Hotel Palafitte, in Nauchatel.  The following day, Summit participants would be the first to see TAG Heuer’s new Autavia and, to open the Summit, Mr. Biver provided his introduction to the watch.

More than introducing the new Autavia, Mr. Biver’s remarks describe how TAG Heuer will use its unique portfolio of historic chronographs to inspire the development of new watches for the brand. His remarks introduce the new Autavia, but more importantly they introduce a new era for the TAG Heuer brand.

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An In-Depth Look at the Early Autavias (1962 through 1969)

By Rich Crosthwaite and Jeff Stein

Images by Paul Gavin/heuerworld.com

On March 10, 2016, TAG Heuer announced that it would re-issue the Autavia in 2017, with enthusiasts selecting the model to be re-issued from among 16 choices dated 1962 through 1969.  There is great interest in these “Early Autavias”, and at the request of TAG Heuer we present this detailed look at these models. 

Fifty four years after Heuer introduced the Autavia chronograph, we can put this watch into its proper perspective.  The Autavia was Heuer’s first chronograph to have a model name, as the previous chronographs were identified only by their reference numbers.  The Autavia was Heuer’s first chronograph to incorporate a rotating bezel, a useful tool for measuring elapsed time, for determining speed over a measured distance, or for tracking time in a second time zone.  Perhaps we explain these first two attributes by the third unique aspect of the Autavia – it was the first wristwatch that Jack Heuer, the great grandson of company founder Edouard Heuer, personally created for the company, at age 30.

These 10 Autavias cover the range from the very first models, introduced in 1962, to the first automatic Autavia, introduced in 1969

These 10 Autavias cover the range from the very first models, introduced in 1962, to the first automatic Autavia, introduced in 1969

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The Match-by-Match Guide to the Autavia Cup -- Round One

Today, TAG Heuer has launched the Autavia Cup competition, a month-long event in which enthusiasts will cast votes to determine which Autavia the company will re-issue in 2017.  The competition consists of a series of head-to-head, knock-out matches, in which each winning model will advance to the next round of the competition. Sixteen Autavias are included in the competition, 12 of them being historic models produced by Heuer in the 1960s and 4 of them being newly-created, as Fantasy Autavias, for purposes of the Autavia Cup. After enthusiasts have narrowed the field to four Autavias, TAG Heuer will select the model to the re-issued.  Visit the Autavia Cup website to cast your vote!

This posting will serve as a Guide to the Autavia Cup, highlighting the key features of each of the 16 competing models.  Click on the [High Res] link at the end of each description to see high resolution photos of each of the models.  For comprehensive information about the Autavias from the 1960s (and the 1970s and 80s, as well), you will want to see the book, Heuer Autavia Chronographs 1962-85, by Richard Crosthwaite and Paul Gavin.  Paul supplied the photos for the Autavia Cup competition and also created the four “Fantasy” models. You can order the book HERE.


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The Enthusiast's Guide to the Autavia Cup

On Thursday, March 10, 2016, TAG Heuer announced that the brand would launch a social media based contest, to allow enthusiasts, collectors and customers to select the model of 1960s Autavia chronograph that TAG Heuer will re-issue in 2017. This contest, called the “Autavia Cup”, will commence on March 17, at Baselworld, with the winning watch to be announced in April 2016.


This posting will provide a Guide to the Autavia Cup competition, pulling together anything and everything enthusiasts will need to follow the action, and — more importantly — to cast their vote to determine the next Autavia to be offered by TAG Heuer.

The 16 Autavias Competing in the Autavia Cup

Click on the image below to have a closer look at the 16 Autavias that will compete in the Autavia Cup.  The top 12 are “real” models that Heuer produced in the 1960s and the four on the bottom row are “Fantasy” models produced by collector Paul Gavin, operator of HeuerWorld.


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Finishing Heuer's Unfinished Project -- Autavia 2446C with Silver Dial

Once upon a time, there was a brilliant architect, who designed residences and had also planned and built many successful communities. Many years ago, he began work on what would be his most ambitious project, a futuristic community of over 300 houses, apartments and townhouses, that would also include parks, shops and other facilities for the community. This new development would capture the essence of the Architect’s style, as well as his vision for communities of the future.

To begin the project, the Architect would build a row of townhouses, 12 units that would serve as the model for the rest of the community. The Architect had ambitious plans for the community, and he spared no energy or expense in designing and starting the work on these first 12 townhouses. He knew that in order for the Project to be successful, these first 12 homes would need to be well-received, showing potential residents and observers the style and quality that would be the essence of the new community.


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Registry of Early Autavias

The Autavia Chronograph

Heuer introduced the “Autavia” dashboard timer in 1933, with this 12-hour stopwatch designed to be mounted on the dashboard / panel of an automobile or airplane (thus the name is derived from the words “AUTomobile” and “AVIAtion”). Heuer introduced the Autavia chronograph in 1962, making it the first Heuer chronograph to have a model name on the dial; the “Carrera” was introduced one year later.

The Autavia chronograph made its first appearance in a 1962 brochure of chronographs. In this brochure, Heuer proudly declared that the “most useful feature of the new Autavia is the outside turning bezel with either a 60 minute or 12 hour division”. Indeed, the Autavia was the first Heuer chronograph with a rotating bezel, a feature that defined the Autavia throughout its production life, into the 1980s.

The First Execution of the Autavia — Key Elements

The first execution of the Autavia chronograph is defined by (a) a screw-back case, (b) larger registers than subsequent executions of the Autavia, and (c) dauphine hands. Collectors sometimes refer to these first executions of the Autavias as the “Big Register” Autavia.

First execution Reference 3646 and 2446 Autavias

First execution of Reference 3646 (two-register) and Reference 2446 (three-register) Autavia chronographs, circa 1962


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The Collector's Guide to the Heuer Autavia

Looking at the world of vintage Heuer chronographs, most of the action centers around three models — the Autavia, the Carrera and the Monaco.  Over the years from 1962 into the mid-1980s, there were over 200 executions and variations of these three models, ranging from manual-winding two-register chronographs, to more complicated GMT models, to quartz powered models with dual digital displays.  While Heuer offered many other models over these years (for example, the Camaro, Montreal, Silverstone and Monza), these other models together account for only a fraction of the production of Heuer’s “Big Three.”

Heuer's "Big Three" -- Among the most common executions of these models are the "Viceroy" Autavia (1972), the Reference 2447S Carrera (circa 1963), and the "Steve McQueen" Monaco (circa 1970)

Heuer’s “Big Three” — Among the most common executions of these models are the “Viceroy” Autavia
(1972), the Reference 2447S Carrera (circa 1963), and the “Steve McQueen” Monaco (circa 1970)

In this posting, we provide an overview of the first of Heuer’s “Big Three” models, the Autavia.  Our overview of the Autavia provides information for today’s collectors.  We focus on the versions of the Autavia that are most accessible to today’s collectors, rather than the very rare executions or prototypes that today’s collector cannot expect to find (or afford).  (For example, we will not cover the Chronomatic Autavias here; for those who may be interested in the Chronomatic Autavias, I have written a separate posting covering the “Chronomatics”.)

Three manual-wind, screw-back Autavias from the 1960s.

Three manual-wind, screw-back Autavias from the 1960s.

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Found – Heuer’s Very First Automatic Chronograph (Chronomatic Autavia)

For years, Heuer collectors have stared at the image – its shows three Heuer chronographs, each bearing only the Heuer shield at the top of the dial and the word “Chronomatic” at the bottom of the dial.  There are no model names on the dials, but the Heuer enthusiasts know exactly what they are – the Carrera, the Monaco and the Autavia that Heuer introduced in 1969, as the world’s first automatic chronographs.

Advertisement from March 1969, showing Heuer’s three automatic chronographs (Chronomatics)

This was the first image that Heuer used to market its first automatic chronographs – the Chronomatics.  The images of these three watches appeared in the March 3, 1969 press release in which Heuer introduced its first automatic chronographs and in industry publications that first presented these watches to the world, including the Swiss Watch and Jewelry Journal, the official publication of the March 1969 Basel Fair.

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Discovered: Transitional Version of 1960s Autavia

Our vintage Heuer community has been online for over a decade now.  We have assembled thousands of images, created reference tables covering hundreds of models, and written articles, blogs, books and forum postings covering the most intricate (and obscure) details of the vintage Heuers.  Sometimes, we may convince ourselves that there is little remaining to be learned, in terms of cataloging the models that Heuer produced from the 1950s through the 1980s.  Ironically, this abundance of information makes it all the more exciting when we discover a new version of a favorite watch.

Transitional Autavia -- Dial Detail

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What’s It Worth? Heuer Autavia Sold on Pawn Stars

Pawn Stars is an American “reality” television show that presents events occurring at the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Episodes typically feature customers coming into the shop with a rare or collectible item (or perhaps something entirely worthless), and negotiating with the shops owners / employees to sell or pawn the item.  Sometimes, a customer seeks to sell a valuable item, and is pleasantly surprised to discover its real value.  In other instances, the customer believes that he has an item of great value, and is disappointed when the owner suggests that the item is common or even a counterfeit.

Pawn Stars Autavia -- Header

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Vintage Heuer -- The Best of 2013

2013 was a fantastic year for the community that collects vintage Heuer chronographs.  The community had 30 members participate in a Summit in La Chaux-de-Fonds, TAG Heuer celebrated “50 Years of the Carrera”, we saw new books and websites dedicated to the vintage Heuers, and activity on our discussion forums reached an all-time high.

Heuer -- Best 0f 2013
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Satisfaction -- Mick Jagger is a Heuer Guy!

Watch freaks are . . . well, come to think of it, “freaks” is a pretty good way to describe them.  And surely one of the most bizarre habits of the watch freaks is “watch spotting”.  Watch freaks watch (and re-watch) movies and TV shows, and put their 10X loupes on the weekly issue of People magazine, all in an effort to determine the watches that the actors, actresses, celebrities, athletes and politicians are wearing.

Jagger Autavia Header

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Autavia 50th Birthday Scrapbook

Heuer introduced the Autavia chronograph in 1962, as its first 1960s chronograph to feature a model name (“Autavia” being a combination of “AUTomobile” and “AVIAtion”).  The Autavia would be followed by the legendary Carrera in 1963 and Monaco in 1969, as well as numerous new models in the 1970s (Montreal, Silverstone, Daytona, Monza, etc.).  With TAG Heuer not having an Autavia in its current model line, we could not expect that the company would celebrate the 50th Birthday of the Autavia during 2012.  Still, in this era of crowd sourcing, crowd funding, flash mobs, Facebook, Twitter and discussion forums, we realized that the community of vintage Heuer collectors should not let 2012 draw to a close without staging its own 50th Birthday Celebration for the Autavia.
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The Chronomatics -- Rarest of the Vintage Heuers

For vintage watch collectors, the difference between a “grail” watch and an ordinary watch is often a matter of small details. The texture of the paint, the length of a hash mark, the style of the serifs or the aging of the lume can all affect the collectability and value of a vintage watch. The 10x loupe has become standard equipment for examining the rare ones; sometimes, we need the extra power of a microscope, just to be sure. We showed you how little details can make a difference in the Black PVD Heuer Monaco.

It’s not so nuanced, however, for those pursuing the rarest of the vintage Heuer chronographs. There is one word — located at the top dead center of the dial — that evidences the rarest of the rare in the world of vintage Heuers. The word “Chronomatic” alerts the collector that he or she has found the ultimate vintage Heuer chronograph. In this posting, we will consider where the origins of the word “Chronomatic” and provide an overview of the four (or five) models that bear this special designation.

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Heuer Autavia GMT -- Why the Red Needles Were Changed to Black

We sometimes puzzle about the smallest details of the vintage Heuers, from the shape of the serifs to the grain in the “midnight blue” paint.  We often construct theories — or even guess — as to why certain elements were changed, from one execution of a watch to the next.  But every once in a while, we receive some rock-solid information that explains one of these changes.  Shown below is an e-mail message that I received explaining why the little red chronograph needles on one execution of the Autavia Reference 1163 GMT were changed to little black needles.

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Absolutely Everything About the Heuer Autavia Viceroy Chronograph

On August 14, 2012, Hodinkee.com published an article that I authored covering the history of the Heuer / Viceroy Autavia promotion — “How the Number Three Cigarette in America Made Heuer a Household Name“.   This posting will provide links to additional resources and information relating to the Viceroy Autavias.

Galleries of Viceroy Autavias – Our OnTheDash Galleries shows samples of the early Reference 1163 Viceroy Autavia from every angle, as well as the later Reference 11630 Viceroy Autavia.

Autavia 1163V  Heuer Autavia Reference 11630V

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Mark Moss Explores Serial Numbers and Batches of Viceroy Autavias

This post is supplementary to Jeff’s article on the Heuer / Viceroy Autavia promotion, which has been published on the Hodinkee website.  In this post, I use dates and figures from Jeff’s article and attempt to reference those against serial numbers to provide further context.

The First Three Batches of Reference 1163 Autavia Cases.  There are three clear batches of automatic Autavias before we routinely start seeing the characteristics of the watches sold through the Viceroy promotion.

At launch in 1969, ranges are clearly defined for the three launch models (Autavia, Carrera and Monaco). It is worth noting that the allocated ranges also allow for numbers of manual watches in each of the ranges too (2446s in the case of the Autavia, 73353/73453/73653 Carreras and the 73633 Monacos).

The Autavias range from 141xxx through 143xxx, Chronomatic dials only appearing in the 141xxx part of that range. White dials with black registers (aka “Sifferts”) dominate the Chronomatic dials but the  mix between these and black dialled MHs tends to even out as serials get deeper into the range, with dials now marked “Automatic Chronograph”.

Chronomatic Autavia -- SN 141206  Chronomatic Autavia -- SN 141206 (Detail)

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Detailed Review: Autavia 2446C GMTs (and Standard 2446Cs)

Heuer made two executions of its Autavia Reference 2446C (compressor) snap-back case and although these cases may — at a glance — appear to be identical, upon closer inspection we see that they are very different in their construction.  The differences between seemingly similar watches become even more numerous when the Autavia 2446C case houses the Autavia GMT chronograph, as Heuer used multiple varieties of dials and hands on the GMTs.

This posting is derived from a discussion forum posting by Paul Gavin, in which he shows us the 10 differences between two of these Autavia 2446C GMT chronographs.  Huge thanks to Paul for this discussion forum posting, as well as his assistance in preserving it in the form of this blog posting.

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Chrono Art from Paul Gavin -- Amazing Photos!!

Paul Gavin is one of our regular contributors to OnTheDash, and most of us consider Paul to be our very best photographer.  Paul displays his beautiful photographs on his website HeuerWorld.com, and you can read more about Paul over there.

Recently, during a rainy weekend in the south of England, Paul spent some time producing some “art photos”, different in style from his usual more realistic photos.  Paul posted links to these photos in a message on our discussion forum, and he has given us permission to give these art photos a more permanent home here.  Accordingly, this page shows the six art photos that Paul posted on our forum (five Heuers and one Zenith), as well as two other photos that I especially admire (both manual-wind Carreras).

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Leap Day 2012 -- Wrist-Shot Wednesday, at Last

“Leap Day” (February 29th) is a special day that only occurs every four years.  Watch guys who own perpetual calendars marvel as the “29” arrives at midnight; 24 hours, they are even more impressed when the date moves to “1”.  This year, I marked Leap Day by playing hooky from work — traveling to New York City to take care of a couple of non-work related matters.  I mean, in most years (or 75% of them, to be precise), 28 days are enough for February, so I decided to end February 2012 on the 28th and declare the 29th to be a free day . . . off the calendar.

During the course of the day, I saw a “Watch You Wearing” message on our discussion forum, so I decided to take some wrist shots, all along the way.  [I usually don’t take wrist-shots, but maybe I will make an exception every February 29th.]

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Field Guide to the Heuer Autavia, Reference 1163 (Black Dial)

Yesterday, on the TZ-UK Watch Talk discussion forum, I posted a photo showing four versions of the Heuer Autavia, Reference 1163, each with a black dial.  A reader of that forum (under the name “even neve”) posted a message, stating, “Very nice – but don’t see the point in having four watches looking all the same. Maybe you could mod some of them ?”  Well, that would be an interesting idea . . . “modding” (modifying) a vintage Autavia.  Two of the watches have the same polished steel hands, so perhaps I would replace one set with some bright orange or red hands?  Three of them have the same black Minutes / Hours (MH) bezel, so perhaps I could find a more colorful bezel for one of them, perhaps something in the “Pepsi” colors?  Four stainless steel cases?  Maybe one of them would look nice in black PVD. 

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Viceroy Advertisements from 1972, Including the Autavia Promotion

In 1972, the Brown and Williamson Tobacco Company ran a promotion through which customers could purchase a Heuer Autavia chronograph for $88, with proof of purchase of a carton of Viceroy cigarettes (which consisted of 1o packs).  At that time, Autavia chronographs were being sold for $200, through the normal dealer channel.

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Communicate Well with Your Watchmaker -- Lesson Two

A few months ago, we had a posting about a very rare Chronomatic Carrera that had been destroyed by a local jeweler.  The jeweler had the dial refinished, thinking that the customer would be pleased to have a nice fresh coat of paint, rather than the aged dial of the original watch.  I would estimate that this little surprise for the customer took the value of this watch from something like $5,000 to $7,000 to around $1,000.  [In understanding these values, I should also mention that the movement had been replaced, but we don’t know exactly when that occured . . . perhaps another little “surprise” from a jeweler!] 

Today, we see an eBay listing for an Autavia that started life (in 1970) as a 1163 MH and — through the work of a service center — the watch has ended up as nothing but a mess. 

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Heuer's Innovation -- The Rotating Tachymeter Bezel for Race Timing

Two popular versions of the Heuer Autavia from the 1970s, the Reference 1163T (known as the “Siffert” model) and the Reference 1163V (known as the “Viceroy” model), are distinctive among vintage chronographs in having rotating tachymeter bezels.  So it came as no surprise when one of our readers asked about the “functional benefit” of having a rotating tachymeter bezel on a chronograph.   He asked, “ . . . would one ever rotate the Tachy bezel?”  A simple question . . . exactly seven words.

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Summertime!! Let’s Celebrate the Skipper (Hermit Crab #2)

The Skippers bear several similarities to the Seafarers: (a) they are colorful, (b) they are intended to be worn for boating, fishing or other water-related activities, and (c) saddest of all — like the hermit crabs we see at the beach — they never had shells (cases) of their own. You see, the poor Skipper had to find a home in the case of the 1960s Carrera, as well as a progression of Autavias (borrowing from the References 7763, 1563, 11630 and 11063. [Like the hermit crab, that must seek larger shells over the course of its life, the Skipper also moved to increasingly larger cases, as it grew over the years!!]

But rather lament that the Skipper never had a case of its own, as we approach the Memorial Day weekend (in the United States) and the start of summer (anywhere in the northern hemisphere), let’s celebrate the Skipper!! I have dome some research, spoken with The Master, and used all this new information to reorganize the Skipper section of OnTheDash.

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