CHRONOGRAPH WAS HEARTBEAT OF SWISS LUXURY MANUFACTURING COMPANY
While Heuer’s Carrera is often credited with establishing the brand’s sporting credentials, many horologists believe its Autavia wristwatch has the real sporting heritage and authenticity.
The model takes its name from a combination of its target markets – automotive and aviation, reports the website Calibre 11, which covers TAG Heuer and Vintage Heuer collectors. Unveiled in 1962, the Autavia chronograph was the first model launched under the guidance of the company’s then-CEO Jack Heuer and was the heartbeat of the collection through 1985, when Techniques d’Avant Garde (TAG) acquired the company.
It was the first watch to be fitted with Heuer’s Chronomatic Calibre 11/12 movement and while the Carrera began its life as a wristwatch, the original Autavia was actually a timing instrument, specifically a dashboard timer for rally cars, Calibre 11 reports. “Looking back, I can say that the Autavia wrist chronograph was the first real wristwatch product I personally created for the company,” Heuer, himself racing driver, notes in his autobiography, The Times of My Life.
A first-generation Heuer Autavia chronograph, circa 1963, is featured in Heritage’s timepieces auction scheduled for Dec. 10, 2019. The piece comes directly from private ownership and is offered for the first time at auction. “The First Execution Ref. 2446 is considered the ‘grail’ model of the Autavia series,” says Jim Wolf, Heritage Auctions’ director of watches and fine timepieces.
This timepiece was the first to feature contrasting registers and a highly legible rotating bezel. “Produced in the 1960s,” Wolf adds, “it is powered by the renown Valjoux 72 caliber movement. This is the same movement that is found in Rolex Daytona models of the same period. The Heuer Autavia 2446 is far rarer than the plentiful Daytona models on the market.”
In addition to the Autavia, the auction features more than 200 lots, including vintage pieces by Rolex, Cartier, Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, Tudor, Franck Muller, Chopard and Piaget.
This article appears in the Winter 2019-2020 edition of The Intelligent Collector magazine. Click here to subscribe to the print edition.