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TAG Heuer - The Autavia’s big comeback

TAG Heuer The Autavia’s big comeback

The Autavia, an iconic racing chronograph created in 1962 by Jack Heuer, is back with a new model that successfully blends vintage heritage with contemporary technology.

The Autavia is making a comeback for 2017. This iconic watch, designed by Jack Heuer himself in 1962, takes its name from a contraction of AUTomobile and AVIAtion. It made watchmaking history by being the first wrist chronograph with a rotating bezel. There have been more than 80 highly successful versions, driven by 14 different movements. A number of variants remained in the catalogue until 1986, and today they are among the most sought-after chronographs by collectors (see our interview with Jeff Stein of On the Dash).
The legend of the Autavia grew up around the great Formula 1 drivers of the 1960s and ’70s, who preferred it to all the other chronographs on the market. Jo Siffert, Mario Andretti, Jochen Rindt, Derek Bell, Clay Regazzoni, Gilles Villeneuve, Jacky Ickx, Emerson Fittipaldi, Graham Hill, Björn Waldegård and even Steve McQueen wore them.

The Autavia Cup, an unprecedented project

A year ago, the Autavia returned to centre stage with an interactive operation. TAG Heuer set up a dedicated website, where 16 references – 12 vintage models and four “fantasy” watches – were entered for the “Autavia Cup”. Visitors to the website were invited to vote for the model they wanted to see as the inspiration for a forthcoming reissue. Clients, collectors and enthusiasts of the Swiss watchmaker got into the spirit, and more than 50,000 votes were registered. After two rounds and four finalists the competition produced a winner: the Autavia Ref. 2446 Mark 3, introduced in 1966 and known as the “Rindt” in honour of the Austrian world and Formula 1 champion Jochen Rindt, who used to wear one. With its slim bezel, bevelled lugs, black dial, three white counters, straight hands, matchstick indices in polished steel with luminescent inserts and manually-wound Valjoux 72 movement, the Autavia “Rindt” clearly had what it took to win this unprecedented collaborative operation.

Le grand retour de l’Autavia

Vintage appearance, contemporary performance

The latest-generation Autavia has been brought up to date without compromising its DNA and aesthetic codes, which are firmly anchored in the motor racing legends of yesteryear. But there are nevertheless two major changes. The first is the size of the steel case, which has been boosted from 39 mm to 42 mm in diameter. The second modification is the in-house engine that drives the watch, the new Heuer-02 chronograph movement, running at a frequency of 4 Hz to give an 80-hour power reserve. In terms of its design, the bi-directional knurled bezel in black aluminium frames a black dial with three perfectly balanced azuré white dials. The display is legible and superbly proportioned, with its steel hands and applied indices coated with beige Super-LumiNova®. The 2017 Autavia comes with a vintage-inspired brown aged calfskin strap with “Heuer” engraved buckle. A steel bracelet is also available.

Le grand retour de l’Autavia

Le grand retour de l’Autavia

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Over 150 years of watchmaking savoir-faire and technical innovation have made TAG Heuer a global reference in avant-garde sports watches. As it tracked the rise of sports demanding increasingly precise timekeeping, TAG Heuer continually developed its unique capabilities through a long-term vision of what watchmaking is today, and what it will look like tomorrow.

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