Over the past decade, TAG Heuer has offered numerous models of the Carrera, Monaco, Monza and Silverstone that paid tribute to their predecessors. Whether labelled as re-issues, homages or classics, with each visit to the portfolio of historic models, vintage Heuer collectors asked: “Why not the Autavia?”

Finally, in November 2015, TAG Heuer CEO Jean-Claude Biver issued a challenge to the vintage community: “Tell us exactly which Autavia you want, and we will offer it in 2017.” There were only two restrictions on the choices. First, the new Autavia had to be housed in a traditional round case of the 1960s rather than the C-shaped case used in the 1970s. Second, the new Autavia would be a modern-sized watch, rather than copying the sub-40mm case sizes from the 1960s.

In December 2015, the social media team at TAG Heuer began to plot out a novel approach through which enthusiasts would select the historic model that would serve as the basis for the new Autavia. Announced in March 2016, the “Autavia Cup” was a head-to-head competition between 16 models from the 1960s, with enthusiasts voting on their favourites in three rounds. The first round narrowed the field to eight watches, the second round took it to four, and TAG Heuer then selected the winner based on the voting in the third and final round.

With the Autavia Cup, TAG Heuer employed a unique approach to choosing the historical precedent that would inspire a modern watch, and the competition was an overwhelming success, with over 55,000 votes being cast through the dedicated Autavia Cup website.

The winner? A three-register Autavia, in the second execution screw-back case (circa 1966), as worn by Formula 1 world champion Jochen Rindt.

TAG Heuer’s 2017 Autavia

Officially unveiled at Baselworld in March, TAG Heuer demonstrated unusual transparency in sharing prototypes of the new Autavia with the community of enthusiasts. In January 2017, they displayed a prototype with the following features:

Inspired by the Rindt Autavia
Taking cues from the Autavia worn by the Formula 1 World Champion, the new watch is a three-register chronograph with a black dial and white registers. Applied metal indices mark the hours and match the polished matchstick hands, both having warm luminous inserts. Providing a date on the new Autavia was controversial as the Autavias of the mid-1960s did not offer this feature, so TAG Heuer uses a subtle window, quietly incorporated into the running seconds register at 6 o’clock.

Rotating Hour Bezel
The 1960s Autavias offered bezels marked in minutes, hours, decimal minutes and a tachymeter scale, among others. TAG Heuer will use an hours bezel for the new Autavia, with this bezel allowing the user to track a second time zone or monitor elapsed hours.

With the Heuer 02 Movement
TAG Heuer’s new Heuer 02 movement, manufactured by TAG Heuer at its Chevenez facility, will make its debut in the new Autavia. The automatic calibre has a power reserve of over three days. The movement has a classic column wheel design and is modular, which should allow the addition of complications in later versions. The movement beats at 4 Hz (28,800 vph), and the hash-marks on the dial of the divide the second into four parts.

Vintage-inspired Case
The new Autavia measures 42mm across the dial, with a thickness of approximately 15.5mm. In a clever tribute to its 1960s predecessors, the caseback is marked “Waterproof – Guaranteed 330 Feet Under Water”. The case is manufactured by TAG Heuer, at its Cornol case-making facility.

On a Double Grains of Rice Bracelet
In the mid-1960s, Heuer offered its Autavia and Carrera chronographs on grains-of-rice bracelets made by the esteemed Swiss company, Gay Frères. The new Autavia will come on either a tan leather strap or a double grains-of-rice bracelet, styled after the ones from the mid-1960s.

*The new watch is not a limited model and should be available from March 2017. Pricing is £4,000 on the grains-of-rice bracelet and £3,900 on the leather strap.

TAG Heuer’s 2017 Autavia

Also Read