Heuer Autavia’s 50th birthday

When Evan told me he wanted to write about a collector’s meeting in Manila, dedicated to the 50th birthday of the Heuer Autavia, I just had to say yes. A vintage Heuer Autavia was my first ‘expensive’ watch and I’m still the proud owner of a piece of history. Monochrome is usually dedicated to pure Haute Horlogerie, however I also have a weak spot for certain vintage watches, especially vintage Heuer chronographs!

Earlier this month, we celebrated what was known to be the 50th birthday of the very first automatic chronograph ever made, depending on how you want to define “first” in this context. But festivity aside, we are in actuality celebrating the milestone event of a Heuer watch that never was embelished with the “Tag” prefix – the Autavia.

Heuer Autavia 11630P

Heuer Autavia ref.11630P Decompression bezel

The Autavia, an icon in its own right had become the quintessential Heuer piece to own. Autavia, an amalgamation of the words “Automobile and Aviation” gave rise to other iconic pieces such as the Carrera and Monaco. Fortunately for the aforementioned, they are still included in Tag Heuer’s current lineup of timepieces. Unfortunately, the Autavia did not get the same treatment. But suffice to say, the notion of it being discontinued has been the reason for its grasping state in the world of vintage Heuer.

Heuer Autavia 1163T Jo Siffert

Heuer Autavia ref. 1163T – nickname: Jo Siffert

There will be no 50th anniversary this year, nor there will be a new re-issue, but regardless, it doesn’t stop a group of enthusiasts in my country to celebrate this key milestone. Henceforth, on Dec 6, 2012, Heuer Mania in Manila ensued. A gathering that took place in one of the country’s go to places for your horological passion. A place where vintage collecting is the king of conversations, a place where the sense of timepiece appreciation is heightened by its sheer magnitude of technicalities, a place where vices are unique, a place called “Unique Bisyo“.

Heuer Autavia table shot

Heuer Autavia “table shot”

The premise of limiting one’s Heuer piece to be free from the Tag namesake has never been more apparent. In such a way that it entails that Heuer of the past are above the Tag Heuer of today. But then again, as far as vintage timepieces are concerned, such snobbery towards newer models is the norm. Despite such sentiments, all Heuer, new and old were welcomed in the said event, and it may perhaps be the one of the largest Heuer gathering in the country to date.

Heuer Autavia ref. 11630 Diver 100

Heuer Autavia ref. 11630 Diver 100

It goes without saying that the Autavia was king in this event, from the supposedly uncommon Viceroy models, to the Diver 100 series, and all the way to the rare Jo Siffert model. Fans of said models could easily know the sheer magnitude in the presence of these Autavia pieces. Spanning a product life spans of 11 different models and astonishingly, all of which have unique movements of their own. From the very basic Valjoux movements, all the way to the calibre 15, the Autavia truly is a collectors dream.

Heuer Autavia calibre 15

Heuer Autavia calibre 15

The event also wasn’t limited to Autavias, we also see the likes of the original Carrera, and even the Le Mans Steve McQueen Monaco in excellent condition. Other notable pieces were present, such as the likes of the Silverstone, the Temporada, and the list goes on. It goes without saying that the Heuer craze here in Manila has yet to subside, in such a way that the fetish for chronographs will never fade and will remain so that in such a way that the word timeless from a horological standpoint has never been this convincing.

Soon Heuer expert Jeff Stein will share his knowledge about the history of the Heuer Autavia in a series of articles. Jeff runs Onthedash, the most complete source of information about vintage Heuer watches and of of our favorite places to search for information. 

This article is written by Evan Yeung, contributing editor for Monochrome Watches.

 

Evan Yeung

Evan started out with just a simple appreciation on mechanical devices particularly on timepieces. A former consultant turned business school student, his appreciation heightened when he got his first vintage watch courtesy of his first paycheck. Before he knows it, his little appreciation has evolved to become his passion. Scouring the world for timepieces worth owning, may it be from the golden age of horology (vintage) or from the innovations of the watchmakers of today. His desire to share his passion is what drives him to write articles on timepieces of value. His taste for wristwatches may be unorthodox at times, but his principle in selecting remains the same - that is to find a timepiece that is genuinely good.

View all articles by Evan Yeung

3 Responses to “Heuer Autavia’s 50th birthday”

  1. Evan says:

    Special thanks to Ditoy Aguila for the stunning macro photographs of the Autavias.

  2. Akchar says:

    Bonjour j’ai une heuer autavia cal 12 ref 150511 monza je n’ai pratiquement aucune imformation sur le mouvement de cette montre et je n’ai jamais trouver la même en cal 12 sur internet ou aillieur le cal 12 que j’ai une une variante du cal 12 originel il ressemble au cal 15 cordialement

  3. Frank Geelen says:

    Calibre 12 is a newer version of calibre 11. Your watch has a different sub-dial layout and has a calibre 15 movement.
    It is a strange mix of the Autavia with a Monza case back.

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