Those of you who follow me on Instagram may recollect photos I posted in January 2017, before SIHH, of the new Autavia from TAG Heuer. Even by soft launch standards it was pretty low key. If you didn’t happen to make it to that area of the LVMH function then you may have missed it.
With the start of Baselworld 2017 the soft launch has now become a formal one, so for those of you were who not privy to my earlier photos, I present them to you now.
This is not just any old Autavia, but the result of an online poll (the Heuer Autavia Cup’) conducted by TAG Heuer in 2016 as to which of sixteen first generation Autavia model to revive. More than 50,000 people cast their vote, and the winner was the 1966 Autavia Ref. 2446 Mark III dial aka the watch worn by F1 champion Jochen Rindt, a watch with a ‘reverse panda’ dial with three counters, a 12-hour rotating bezel, straight hands, bevelled horns, straight hands and polished steel baton indexes with luminescent inserts.
The 2017 Autavia comes in a 42mm stainless steel case, larger than the original 39mm, and the proportions are also slightly tweaked. However, it has the reverse panda dial and old school ‘Heuer’ and ‘Autavia’ logos at 12 o’clock. The chronograph counters are 30-minute at 3 o’clock, running seconds at 6’clock (with a date window keeping it company), and a 12-hour counter at 9 o’clock. Hands and the indexes are still polished steel batons and polished steel with pale beige luminous paint as a modern replication of patina.
The key modernisation of the TAG Heuer Autavia 2017 apart from size lies inside. No more Valjoux, it is now the Calibre Heuer 02, an integrated automatic column wheel chronograph of 4Hz and eighty-hours of power reserve. Also, it now has 100m of water resistance. It is based on the original CH80.
For those who don’t know the origins of the ‘Autavia’ name, one that is now so intimately associated with the watches, it harks back to 1933, when Heuer designed the first dashboard counters for racing cars and airplanes – ‘AUT’ from ‘automobile’ and ‘AVIA’ from ‘aviation’.
Overall this is a good looking watch; vintage-inspired but still modern. Not quite as modern an update as the Monza Chronograph from last year, but both are handsome pieces. Apart from the increase in case size, about which there may have been 50,000 views expressed already, the date window is probably the other question, but this is almost a ‘given’, because this is what the market wants nowadays.
I don’t have the Australian price yet but as general guidance, the RRP is 4,800 CHF/ 4,600 EUR for the leather strap versions (black or distressed calfskin) and 4,950 CHF/ 4,900 EUR for the beads-of-rice bracelet. It should be available in Australia in April/ May 2017.