Not so much a news flash as a panic alert, especially for fans of classic Heuer chronographs: London’s landmark retailer, Harrods, has released an exclusive, limited edition TAG Heuer Autavia. If the response to last year’s Harrods-only Tudor Black Bay Green is a measure of the store’s added appeal, this will sell out in an instant.
Demonstrating the same impeccable taste as exercised with the Tudor, Harrods has opted for a “panda” dial, white with black counters. The Autavia is part of the generation of motorsport-related Heuers of the 1960s. Vintage examples are currently among the most coveted of period Heuers, still ascending the auction price ladder.
A brand-new watch with a modern movement, the new-generation Autavia fully respects the original, which embodied motor racing in its name: Autavia is a contraction of AUTomobile and AVIAtion. First launched in 1933, it was revived in 1962 by Jack Heuer, the fourth generation head of the company, as the first sports wrist chronograph. That model was in production in various versions until 1986, a 24-year-span responsible producing some of the world’s most sought-after chronographs.
Adding to its appeal is the roster of Formula 1 drivers of the 1960s and 1970s who wore an Autavia, among them Jo Siffert, Mario Andretti, Jochen Rindt, Derek Bell, Clay Regazzoni, Gilles Villeneuve, Jacky Ickx, Emerson Fittipaldi, Graham Hill, Mario Andretti and Björn Waldegård. Adding to the mystique, Steve McQueen wore one as well.
Based on the current three-sub-dial 42mm Autavia with automatic Calibre Heuer02 movement, Harrods’ model adds a list of exclusive details. Offered in polished stainless steel, its special features include a white lacquered dial with black sub-dials, white flange with 60 second/minute scale, a black calfskin strap in addition to the period bracelet, and its three “azurage” counters are fitted with white lacquered hands. The finishing on its indices and hour/minute hands is Rhodium-plating, made luminous with beige SuperLuminova.
Further indicators of its status as a limited edition are the legend “Harrods Limited Edition xxx/150” engraved on the caseback and a special Harrods-branded presentation box. The Harrods TAG Heuer Autavia, Reference: CBE2116.EB0156, will sell for £4,500 and is limited to only 150 examples. Collectors: start your engines.