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

 

Movements.  All these Autavias were powered by Valjoux movements — Valjoux 72 for the three-register models (Reference 2446) and Valjoux 92 for the two-register models (Reference 3646).  Note that the earlier two-register Autavias (Ref 3646) have 30-minute capacity while the later two-register Autavias have 45-minute capacity.

Cases.  The cases for the three-register (2446) and two-register (3646) models are slightly different, with the case for the three-register being slightly deeper, to accommodate the thicker Valjoux 72 movement.

Hands.  On the first version of these Autavias, the hands were covered with luminous material. On the second version, the hands maintained their dauphine shape, but had polished steel edges, with luminous centers.

Fisrt and Second Executions of Reference 2446 Autavia

First execution Reference 2446 and 3646 Autavias have dauphine shaped hands that are all-lume hands (left); in the second execution (right), the hands had steel edges and luminous inserts.

This Registry

We have prepared this Registry for two primary purposes. First, studying a collection of these watches is a good way to learn about their elements (hands, crowns, pushers, etc.), and determine whether a particular watch is entirely original or may have had some components replaced. Second, it has been interesting to see how many of these early Autavias we can locate and what this might tell us about the quantity produced. In the world of vintage Heuers, the “big register” Autavias are something of “cult” or “grail” watches, so we will document their attributes and ownership.

Heuer’s use of Serial Numbers

Heuer did not track the serial numbers that were marked on either the cases or the movements of its chronographs. Still, today’s collectors have assembled hundreds of serial numbers for the vintage Heuer chronographs, so that we derive important information from the serial numbers. For example, when we see that this Registry includes only three samples of the earliest execution of the Autavia (luminous coated hands), and that these samples have serial numbers within a span of only 50 numbers [48655 to 48698], we may conclude that there were relatively few of this model produced (at least compared to the later models, with much broader spans of serial numbers).

Can We Sort This Into “Batches”?

Working through the first 20 serial numbers in this registry, we might sort the “Big Register” Autavias into the following batches:

Serial Numbers Batch Comments
48655 to 48842 first batch of Ref 3646 full lume hands; 30 min. recorder
48851 to 48860 two “odd” Ref 2446 . . . ? ? ?
49169 to 49291 first batch of Ref 2446 full lume hands (until 49291?)
49430 to 49498 second batch of Ref 2446 steel edged hands
52240 to 52494 second / final batch of Ref 3646 steel edged hands; 45 min. recorder
52742 to 53406 third / final batch of Ref 2446 steel edged hands

What Was the Total Production of “Big Register” Autavia Chronographs?

I will admit that I have absolutely no clue.  But I at least ask the question, so that others might attempt to answer it.

Some Notes About This Registry

Ownership Notes.  We include notes regarding the ownership of most of the chronographs included in this Registry.  We are not attempting to track the ownership of each chronograph. Instead, these notes remind us of the ownership of certain chronographs, typically at the time they were entered into the Registry.

Serial Numbers on Movements.  The Valjoux 72 movements used in the earliest Autavias have serial numbers on the movements.  This was a continuation of the approach that Heuer used during the 1940s and 1950s, but was soon discontinued.

Potter’s Field. Once upon a time, when we were young, we didn’t pay any attention to serial numbers.  (Forgive us.  We are so much smarter now.)  In our “Potter’s Field”, we show some early Autavias for which we do not have serial numbers.

Additional Photos.  To see additional photos of many of the samples included in our Registry, have a look at our OnTheDash Galleries.

Additions; Comments; Corrections; Questions

Please contact me with an questions about this Registry, if you have an Early Autavia that should be included, or to correct any of the information presented in this registry.  You can write to OnTheDash@bellsouth.net.

Jeffrey M. Stein
first published June 30, 2007; overhauled July 18, 2015; updated July 19, 2015

 

48655

  • lowest serial number for Autavia chronograph
  • earliest Reference 3646 chronograph shown in this Registry
  • Ownership notes: JS (US)

48690

  • Ownership notes: Caso (IT); sold in March 2013 for $12,500

48698

  • Ownership notes: Sold on eBay, December 2012; AC (BE) / GT (IT)

48703

  • Ownership notes: JS (US)
  • added to Registry July 2015

48727

  • Ownership notes: GT (IT)
  • added to Registry December 2015

48746

  • Ownership notes: EL (FR)

48756

  • This watch has been sold by Antiquorum in three auctions — March 2009, September 2011 and September 2013.
  • Additional information in shown in this image.

48830

  • Ownership notes: DD
  • Added to Registry — January 2017.

48842

  • Ownership notes: PB (IT)

48851

  • lowest serial number for three-register Autavia chronograph
  • uncertain why steel-edged hands precede all-lume hands
  • Ownership notes: JS (US); TAG Heuer Museum (CH)

48860

  • Ownership notes: PW
  • Note: This watch was originally included in this Registry with serial number 48360; based on the watch’s features,we assume that the “360” is actually “860”

48868

  • Ownership notes: K (US); sold in Heuer 100 (September 2016)
  • Added to Registry — January 2017

48886

  • Ownership notes: RC (UK)
  • Added to Registry — February 2016

48914

  • Has polished steel hands, with “Thin Lume” inserts, as used toward end of first execution Ref 3646 Autavias (30 minute recorder)
  • Ownership notes: PB (IT)
  • Added to Registry — February 2016

49108

  • appears to mark the beginning of the second batch of two-register Autavias, Ref 3646 (45 minute recorder)
  • Ownership notes: PG (UK)

49169

  • earliest Ref 2446 Autavia shown in this Registry
  • Made for Turler (Swiss jewelry retailer)
  • Missing the bezel
  • Ownership notes: MN (US)

49173

  • Ownership notes: RC (UK)
  • added to Registry July 2015

49176

  • Ownership notes: HS (US)

 49215

  • Movement number 456641
  • Ownership notes: JS (US)

49283

  • Movement number 456630
  • Made for Beyer (Swiss jewelry retailer)
  • Ownership notes: PB (IT)

49285

  • Sold on eBay, October 2015
  • Ownership notes: NT (HK)
  • Added to Registry — February 2016

49291

  • Movement number 456584
  • Ownership notes: PB (IT)

49293

  • Ownership notes: RC (UK)
  • added to Registry — July 2015

49345

  • Ownership notes: SW (UK)

49374

  • movement number 455741
  • Ownership notes: Listed on eBay (Jan 2016); AC (BE)
  • added to Registry — January 2016

49397

  • Ownership notes: PG (UK); TT(DE)
  • added to Registry — December 2016

49412

  • movement number 456940
  • Ownership notes: RC (UK)
  • added to Registry — February 2016

49430

  • beginning of second batch of Ref 2446 Autavias
  • Ownership notes: RB (UK)

49466

  • movement number 457036
  • Ownership notes: JB (DE) / SR (CH)
  • sold on ChronoTrader; Summer 2015
  • added to Registry — October 2015

49498

  • movement number 457056
  • Ownership notes: EL (FR)

49506

  • Ownership notes: RC (UK)
  • added to Registry — July 2015

52240

  • beginning of second batch of Ref 3646 Autavias
  • Ownership notes: JS (US); AC (BE); PB (IT); FB (US)

52244

  • Ownership notes: LE (US)

52328

  • Ownership notes: SW (UK)

52494

  • Ownership notes: RH (NL); TT (DE)

52680

  • Ownership notes: SW (UK)

52742

  • beginning of third batch of Ref 2446 Autavias
  • Ownership notes: PM (IT); TT (DE)

52819

  • Ownership notes: Sold by Watches of Knightsbridge, July 2016; JS (US)
  • Added to Registry — December 2016

52826

  • Ownership notes: Listed on eBay, January 2016
  • Added to Registry — January 2016

52862

  • Ownership notes: GGG (IT)

52917

  • Ownership notes: NC (US)
 

52988

  • Ownership notes: PG (UK)
  • added to Registry — July 2015
 

53047

  • Ownership notes: PW (SE); SC (US); MB (US); CS (US)

 53061

  • Ownership notes: MW (DE)
 

53227

  • Ownership notes: JW
  • added to Registry — July 2015

53406

  • Ownership notes: to be added

Our Potter’s Field

  • We have photographs of these watches, but do not have the serial numbers.
  • Please contact us if you have the serial number or other information about any of these watches.
 

 PF2446B01

  • Please contact us if you know the serial number for this watch
 

 PF2446B02

  • Please contact us if you know the serial number for this watch
 

 PF3646B01

  • Please contact us if you know the serial number for this watch

PF3646B02

  • Please contact us if you know the serial number for this watch

Heuer Logo (White on Black)