TAG Heuer has finally released its much-anticipated revival of the iconic Autavia chronograph. The neo-retro Autavia is a result of an innovative online campaign – the Autavia Cup – that saw collectors and enthusiasts picking their favorite Autavia model from 16 vintage references. In time for its 55th anniversary, the new Autavia is designed to channel the spirit of the golden age of motor racing.
The Autavia was introduced in 1962 and was designed by the inimitable Jack Heuer. The name is a combination of two words ‘automobile’ and ‘aviation’; a name that was used in the first dash counter for racing cars and aircraft created by Heuer in 1933. When launched, it was the first chronograph with a rotating bezel and despite its aviation DNA, its association was primarily with motorsport.
The Autavia was worn by some of the great race drivers of the Sixties and Seventies era like Jochen Rindt, Mario Andretti, Jo Siffert and Clay Regazzoni. In the catalogue until 1986, its numerous executions were extremely successful, remaining to this day among the most sought-after collector's chronographs.
The vintage design chosen for this revival via the online Autavia Cup campaign is actually inspired by the Autavia "Rindt" from 1966, worn by F1 champion Jochen Rindt. More than 50,000 votes were registered over two rounds; resulting in four finalists and one overall winner: the Autavia Ref. 2446 Mark 3. This reference was designed in 1966 and named "Rindt" in honor of the legendary driver.
While the original Autavia had a 39 mm-width case, the modern version is a more imposing 42. It has a bold 12-hour graduated black aluminum bi-directional bezel and a new Heuer-02 calibre proprietary chronograph movement. The dial is legible with applied steel indices and hands coated with beige Super-Luminova and features three white snailed chronograph counters. The chronograph uses ‘mushroom’ push-pieces, a ridge crown and that vintage Heuer logo to complete that Sixties retro look.
The only concession to modernity here is the addition of a date aperture and a sapphire caseback. The watch is paired with a distressed camel-skin leather strap that was sourced from Dubai or presented with a Sixties-inspired 7-row steel "beads of rice" bracelet.
The watch is powered by the new Heuer-02 chronograph calibre, with a balance wheel that oscillates at 4 Hz and a power reserve of 80 hours. Just 6.9 mm thick, this self-winding movement comprises 233 components, a pillar wheel and a vertical clutch.
TAG Heuer has a knack of bringing back to life its vintage Heuer chronographs. It scored big with the GPHG-winning Monza reissue last year and collectors have already been salivating over the new Autavia. Expect this to be on many a wish-list this year. The watch is priced at $4,950 when presented with the leather strap.