TAG Heuer Autavia Watches
All About Tag Heuer Autavia Watches
The TAG Heuer Autavia was one of the first models in the TAG Heuer line of chronographs. It has since then outlived all its famous siblings, including the Carrera and Monaco. For more than 30 years, it has remained the heart and soul of the Heuer range. The name of the watch was a portmanteau of the words automotive and aviation. It was borrowed from a dashboard clock that was produced by Heuer in 1933 for fitting into automobiles and aircraft instrument panels. The watches have seen significant technological and design improvements since then, which can be classified into three generations. The TAG Heuer Autavia still continues to be a favorite among collectors.
TAG Hauer is considered to be a reference point in today’s world when we think of luxury watch brands. The brand’s history can be traced back to the 1860s, when Edouard Heuer, at the young age of 20, opened his first watchmaking shop in Saint-Imier, Switzerland. Initially, the brand was named Ed. Heuer & Co. and it was in 1985 that it was changed to TAG Heuer. The leadership and innovative technology have played a key role in taking this brand to exceptional levels of performance and accuracy. TAG Heuer offers a robust catalog of luxury modern watches, which include models like Monaco, the Aquaracer, the Carrera and the most famous of all, the Autavia.
History of TAG Heuer Autavia
The creation of the first Heuer Autavia watch can be traced back to 1962, after which it soon acquired the status of the most appreciated chronograph watch of that era. The model was first designed in 1933, as a dash counter for racing cars, aircraft and boats rather than a wristwatch. This is also the reason behind the name of this model, which was made by the contraction of the two words, AUTomobile and AVIAtion.
The great-grandson of Edouard Heuer, Jack Heuer, took over the family business in 1961. He has explained in his autobiography how the design of the Autavia watch was conceived. He recounts one race from his rallying days when he misread the Autavia dashboard timer’s dial by approximately one minute. This resulted in him coming on the third position rather than first. This incident led him to realize that the dial of the Autavia stopwatch was quite difficult to read. As a result, two new timers called the Autorallye and Monte Carlo were developed, and the Autavia consequently retired.
Jack Heuer had always loved the name Autavia and decided to re-use it for a new range of chronographs the brand came out with. It featured a neat design and was the first Heuer chronograph to have a turning bezel. Almost 12 months went into its development, after which the TAG Heuer Autavia Chronograph was launched in 1961. Soon after the launch, it gained iconic status in the automotive world. Many of the greatest Formula 1 race car drivers like Jo Siffert, Derek Bell, Jochen Rindt, Jacky Ickx and Mario Andretti were the brand ambassadors for Autavia. There are very strong ties between motorsport and Heuer, with the brand being one of the first sponsors of Formula 1 racing.
The most recognizable features of an Autavia consist of its rotating bezel, its black and white dial and large-snailed counters. Heuer came out with many variants of the Autavia range, which are usually classified into generations.
The first-generation Autavia
The first generation Autavia models came in 1962, which had certain characteristic features like a classic 38 mm steel case with flowing lugs, besides a straightforward black dial. There were luminescent hour markers on the dial, besides dauphine hands and white sub-dials.
Following the same case design and bezels, the models from 1966 onwards feature white sub-dials, which were slightly smaller in size. Standard hour markers and hands were used to replace the dauphine hands.
All the first-generation Autavia models were powered by Valjoux’s hand-wound chronograph movements. The Ref. 2446 models used a Valjoux 72 movement, while the Ref. 3445 used the Valjoux 92 movement. The GMT version of Autavia used a variation of the Calibre 72, which was known as Valjoux 724.
The second-generation Autavia
The second generation of the Autavia was introduced in 1968 with a drastically different design. The characteristic features of this design consisted of a larger bezel and new lugs with square edges. The models in the period were mostly equipped with Valjoux 7730 and 7732 movements. In the years that followed, this movement evolved into the Valjoux 7750 movement in the following years.
The third-generation Autavia
The third generation Autavias were launched in 1969, and were powered by a movement called the Chronomatic Calibre 11. This revolutionary movement gave birth to the first automatic chronograph the world saw. This milestone was achieved by partnership Heuer forged with Dubois Depraz, Breitling and Buren. While Dubois Depraz and Breitling were famous chronograph manufacturers at the time, Buren's specialization was manufacturing thin automatic movements. The partnership worked on the project, which was code-named Project 99. The resultant modular automatic chronograph was built on the movements provided by Buren and the chronograph module provided by Dubois Depraz. The watch boasted of a power reserve of up to 42 hours and would beat at 19,800 vibrations per hour.
The third-generation models feature a completely new case with integrated lugs. The crown was positioned on the left strategically so as to signify that the watch did not need winding. These watches remained in the catalog until 1986.
The third generation Autavia models were a re-edition of the 1970 classic Autavias. They were launched in 2003 and were the first Autavia to feature the TAG Heuer logo. This new generation of Autavias had a 42 mm steel case with a fixed bezel. They were powered by a self-winding Calibre 11. It turned out to be a huge hit among the collectors at the time
Thereafter in 2017, TAG Heuer Autavia special edition was launched in Baselworld to celebrate the 55th anniversary of the brand. This model had updated features besides a new Heuer-02 calibre chronograph movement. Ever since its release, the brand has continuously updated the overall functions and incorporated many design improvisations.
The TAG Heuer Autavia watch with 3 hands was released in 2019. It was the first-ever watch in the Autavia line, which was non-chronograph. This model was promoted as an aviation watch. This new Autavia featured a fixed bezel and came in the color options of blue and accents of orange.
The best-selling Autavia watches make for a fine collection of modern watches. These watches feature innovative tools while still capturing some vintage aesthetics of the classic models. They are a cross between motorsport and an aviation watch, and a blend of the sporty and the sophisticated. There is a range of colors to choose from, besides interchangeable straps. All of these features combined make the TAG Heuer Autavia a versatile and new-age watch.