Since its relaunch in 1962 as a wrist-worn chronograph, following its initial introduction in 1933 as a cockpit instrument for automobiles and aircraft, the Autavia has played a crucial role in the success and prominence of the Heuer — now TAG Heuer— brand. While lesser known than the iconic Carrera and likely less recognizable than the famed Monaco, the Autavia has nonetheless long served as one of the Swiss chronograph specialist’s hardiest offerings, defined by action-ready styles featuring sturdy case construction and outer rotating bezels.
This year, TAG Heuer celebrates the 60th anniversary of the initial introduction of the Autavia wristwatch, and as one would expect is paying tribute to it by releasing a series of new timepieces. Dubbed the Autavia 60th Anniversary series, it’s made up of a trio of watches, including two flyback chronographs and a three-hand GMT model; the former duo notably represents the first use of a flyback mechanism within the Autavia line, and the latter, the first GMT-only watch within the historical family.
Leading the celebratory launch is a pair of flyback chronographs, one in a traditional steel case with a silver and black colorway — a nod to the popular “panda” style, as seen in the vintage Ref. 73663 — and the other in a black DLC-coated case with a black dial and highly luminous accents in homage to TAG Heuer’s past as a provider to military units, as exemplified by a flyback chronograph watch it issued to the the German Bundeswehr in the 1960s, the Ref. 1550 SG.
Outside of the different color options, the two watches use the same 42-mm case design, both sporting the modernized Autavia look, complete with a double-knurled crown, screw-down pushers, and the black ceramic, bidirectional rotating bezel that has long served as the collection’s signature.
A vintage-informed style is at play on the dial, with details like the crown and the distinctly shaped pushers taking inspiration from historical TAG Heuer dashboard timers. Applied, Super-LumiNova-filled Arabic indices are used for the hour positions, with a pair of matching wide, aviation-style hour and minute hands at the center. Indented sub-dials on the left and right side of the dial punctuate the look with their chronograph displays, while a subtler small seconds counter with an integrated date window rests towards the bottom in parallel to the watch’s various descriptive elements just below the 12 o’clock position.
Inside the chronograph models is TAG Heuer’s latest update to its Caliber Heuer 02, with the automatic movement now featuring a chronometer certification by COSC in addition to a flyback functionality. The manufacture movement is visible with its fine finishing and skeletonized rotor via a sapphire exhibition caseback.
Rounding out the anniversary series is a novel GMT-equipped timepiece named the TAG Heuer Autavia 60th Anniversary GMT 3 Hands. Featuring the same sharp, 42-mm steel case shape as its stopwatch-equipped siblings, this model dispenses with the Autavia’s traditional chronograph pushers for a more streamlined, simpler silhouette. Simpler, however, does not mean boring: the double-knurled crown is essentially a solo act on the case’s side and has accordingly been sized larger. Meanwhile, a blue-and-black ceramic, 24-hour, bidirectional bezel tops the case and assists the user in tracking an additional timezone.
Underneath the sapphire crystal lies a blue sunray-brushed dial. Here, applied Arabic numerals and hands feature a historically influenced shape similar to those seen on the chronographs, while a 6 o’clock date window prominently displays the date and a railroad-track minute ring occupies the outer border. Touches of orange provide some bright accents, including an orange-colored GMT hand and matching “Autavia” script.
For the first GMT-only watch within the venerable Autavia collection, TAG Heuer selected the Caliber 7 COSC, a reliable movement based upon the ETA 2895-2. As in the flyback chronographs, Caliber 7 features chronometer-grade accuracy, though in this model it is hidden behind a solid commemorative caseback engraved with the frontal image of propeller-equipped plane.
Each watch within the Autavia 60th Anniversary series is available now through TAG Heuer and its authorized retailers on a non-limited basis. The non-DLC steel Autavia 60th Anniversary Flyback Chronograph is marked at $6,300, while the DLC option is priced somewhat higher at $6,950, and the Autavia 60th Anniversary GMT 3 Hands will retail for $4,200.