Heuer Autavia, one of the iconic Racing Chronograph models of the 60s, has appeared in Baselworld 2017 with a new face selected by public vote. During our visit to the brands fair booth, we had the opportunity to shoot the new model in detail while being briefed by Mr. Olivier ROMANG from TAG Heuer.
When it comes to sports chronograph models of the 60s, there is no doubt that Heuer Autavia is one of the first models that comes to mind. Among the most famous Panda Dial chronograph models of the 60s, along with Rolex Daytona (Paul Newman's version in the period); Autavia once again took its place in the TAG Heuer catalogs, disrupting its long standing silence. The legendary product line, which takes its name from Automobile and Aviation, celebrated its 55th anniversary with a brand new model introduced in Baselworld 2017,
Designed referring to the configuration which von the public contest with more than 50,000 votes, the new model features details that are pretty similar to the version produced in 1966 and worn by the famous F1 pilot Jochen Rindt.
Vintage Tag Heuer Autavia
Unlike the 39mm diameter original version, the new Autavia is offered in a stainless steel case measuring 42mm in diameter which may be considered as standard for today’s sport chronographs. Re-proportioned with a slightly thicker measure, the new case design offers a modern and bold stance while being true to the model’s DNA.
The bezel is also re-sized according to the new case but still features 12h markings like the original version. The winding crown and chronograph pushers are also designed with retro touches. The crown is slightly bigger than the original version’s to provide a better grip while the chronograph pushers feature the classic “mushroom” shape. The case sports a curved sapphire crystal which tributes to the original version’s domed plexi crystal. The stainless steel caseback features a sapphire crystal display. The case is water resistant to 100 meters which is acceptable for a modern sports chronograph.
The new Autavia’s dial is also designed to be as faithful as possible to the original version. The dial sports the classic Heuer logo and model name Autavia at 12 o’clock. The color scheme is arranged referring to the classic timepiece of 1966 with so called Reverse Panda meaning contrasting white sub-dials over black background.
The chronograph lay-out is arranged in 3-6-9 formation. The reference of the movement inside is printed at the small seconds sub-dial at 6 o’clock which also features the date display window with black font over white background. SuperLuminova phosphor material in beige tone has been applied to the index and arms in accordance with the general retro look of the model.
Tag Heuer Autavia Jack Heuer Birthday Edition (on the left) - Tag Heuer Autavia
Let’s get to the movement, shall we..? I am sure the model's loyal fans and many watchmakers would like to see the legendary mechanism Valjoux 72 in this new version. However, TAG Heuer preferred to put the Caliber Heuer 02 inside this new model, instead of designing a hand-wound chronograph movement similar to the original Valjoux 72.
Is it possible to say that Caliber Heuer 02 is exclusively designed for the new Autavia..? Well, maybe.. Caliber Heuer 02 is, in fact, an up-to-date derivation of the movement that the brand has designed with the Caliber CH-80 reference, but has never produced it. Technically, the Caliber Heuer 02, which is a refined movement with an integrated column wheel chronograph module and a power reserve of 80 hours. Beating at 4Hz, the movement nicely suits with the retro character of the model thanks to its 3-6-9 dial lay out. The movement, which features classic Cotes de Genève decoration accompanied with a red column wheel and a blackened oscillating rotor, can be enjoyed through the sapphire crystal caseback.
It is possible to see that the new version remains faithful to the original one with strap and bracelet options. The model is offered on a brown calf leather straps with ecru stitches or the famous 7 link in a row beads type bracelet of the 60s.
Frankly speaking, I really liked the Re-Issue or Heritage concept at the beginning as the results are mostly beautiful. However, I don’t feel the same way now as there are too many brands going after that trend and launching countless models in this regard whether beautiful or not. For Autavia, it’s different. First of all, the new model is configured directly by the watch enthusiasts and second, the project ended up re-launching a discontinued legendary model. Congratulations TAG Heuer.