Heuer introduced the Autavia chronograph in 1962, as its first 1960s chronograph to feature a model name (“Autavia” being a combination of “AUTomobile” and “AVIAtion”). The Autavia would be followed by the legendary Carrera in 1963 and Monaco in 1969, as well as numerous new models in the 1970s (Montreal, Silverstone, Daytona, Monza, etc.). With TAG Heuer not having an Autavia in its current model line, we could not expect that the company would celebrate the 50th Birthday of the Autavia during 2012. Still, in this era of crowd sourcing, crowd funding, flash mobs, Facebook, Twitter and discussion forums, we realized that the community of vintage Heuer collectors should not let 2012 draw to a close without staging its own 50th Birthday Celebration for the Autavia.
On November 25th, we posted a message on our OnTheDash Discussion Forum, announcing that the community would celebrate the 50th birthday of the Autavia, on December 6, 2012. The December 6 date was inspired by the dial of the early two-register Autavia, with its prominent “12” and “6”.
This blog posting is a “scrapbook” of the Autavia’s 50th Birthday Celebration, as we have taken postings from a variety of sources and collected them in this posting. The “Scrapbook” motif is perfect for this posting, as we are assembling it quickly, without too much attention to precision or completeness. [You can click any of the thumbnail images in this Scrapbook to see a high-resolution version.]
The OnTheDash vintage Heuer Discussion Forum was the main venue for the Birthday Celebration, and most of these images and postings have been pulled from the discussion forum.
Countdown to the Celebration
Shaun Wainstein, a long-time contributor from England, led our community in a 10-day “countdown” to the celebration, posting a different Autavia each day prior to the celebration. Shaun seems to like the Autavia GMT models, and he showed us some beautiful samples. Here are three or Shaun’s manual-wind versions, including the super rare 2446 GMT screw-back model (on the left).
Of course, Shaun was also kind enough to share a couple of the automatic (Caliber 14) Autavia GMTs, with the Reference 1163 (on the left) and the Reference 11630 (on the right).
But Shaun didn’t limit himself to these five Autavia GMTs, posting a beautiful “Siffert” model (Reference 1163T) and an amazing silver-dialed Reference 11630.
And if you were worried that Shaun didn’t have any manual-wind Autavias (other than his GMTs), he posted this Reference 73663 military-style three register model and this Reference 73463 that was actually issued by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
Shaun wasn’t the only enthusiast counting down the days to the celebration. Rich Crosthwaite responded to a couple of Shaun’s postings, with Autavias of his own. Here we see one of Rich’s automatic GMTs (Reference 11630) and one of his military-style Autavias, Reference 73663. Rich also posted a photo of one of the rarest Autavias, which has a tachymeter scale printed on the dial.
Autavia Registry Update
As we were preparing for the 50th Birthday celebration, it seemed like a good time to focus on the very first Autavias, specifically the Reference 2446 and Reference 3646 models with the larger registers. We updated our Registry of First Execution Autavias, to include some recently-discovered samples, and now have over 20 of these Autavias in the Registry.
In the process of updating the Registry, we received some photos of amazing early Autavias, including this two register model from Paul Gavin and the three register model from Nic Green (our own “Heuer Boy”), with the rare decimal minutes bezel. We have seen a fair number of these decimal minutes bezels used as replacements for the original bezels, but not many of the bezels that appear to be original to the watches. The aging on Nic’s sample is nothing short of amazing!
The Autavias Are Everywhere
In the days immediately before the celebration:
- In a posting on December 3rd, Christie’s Watch Blog, “Longitude” recommended the Viceroy Autavia as one of the icons that might be good in any collection.
- In its January 2013 issue, Road & Track, one of the most respected watch magazines in America, ran a short feature on the Siffert Autavia, written by Heuer enthusiast Allen St. John.
Peter’s Amazing Display — 11 Autavias; 11 Movements
On the eve of the celebration, Peter Moller posted an amazing image. Yes, there are 11 Autavias, but if you read the labels on each of the Autavias, you will see that they are powered by 11 different movements. That’s right, Peter starts with the Valjoux 72 (on the left) and takes us all the way to the Caliber 15 (on the right). What an amazing photo!!
Let the Celebration Begin!
All the entries in this Scrapbook so far cover postings and articles that were published prior to the actual birthday celebration, on December 6th. We can fairly say that if we only had this countdown to the celebration, and did not have the celebration itself, we would have seen some amazing Autavias. But when December 6th arrived, we saw that members of our community had been preparing for days, and that the real celebration was about to begin.
The Celebration — December 6, 2012
TAG Heuer featured the Autavia’s 50th Birthday Celebration on Facebook . . . Shaun’s image generated over 10,800 “Likes” in its first 15 hours on Facebook. Nice that TAG Heuer selected Shaun’s image for it Facebook banner!!
Simon Fox posted a message on our discusson forum telling us about his first Autavia
Shaun brought the Countdown to its conclusion by posting an amazing early two-register Autavia.
In recent traffic statistics for OnTheDash, I have been noticing a lot of readers in the Phillipines, and I had been wondering whether there might be some new passion for the old Heuers over there. During the Autavia’s 50th Birthday Celebration, Chris and Ditoy posted messages showing us an absolutely amazing celebration that had occurred in Manila, with a get together of five enthusiasts. The display of Autavias and other Heuers was nothing short of breathtaking. We start with a couple of the group photos. Be sure to study the photo on the right, showing three dozen Autavias!!
We can’t possibly show all the Autavias that were on display at the Manila celebration, but we will choose a handful of the highlights. On the top row (below) we start with a pair of the “Divers”, with the colorful 11630P on the left and the 11063P on the right. On the second row, we show the most common of the Autavias, the “Viceroy”, along with one of the rarest of the Autavias, which we call the “Exotic”. You can see more high resolution photos of the Manila Autavias in this posting on the discussion forum. You will also see some Silverstones, Monacos, Carreras and even a Temporada!!
In this day and age, you would expect there to be some action on Facebook, and there were several celebratory posts in the International Vintage Heuer Owners Club group page, including these two photos from Arno Haslinger — new old stock 11630 GMT (on the left) and the Diver 100 and rare gold-plated Autavia (on the right).
We also saw a couple of great wrist shots on Facebook, with Patrice showing his 741.603 Autavia GMT and John showing us his Reference 3646 Autavia, on location at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Andrew showed us a fantastic looking 2nd execution 2446H. Could it be that this is the prettiest of all the Autavias that we have seen today?
And if you thought that this 50th Birthday Celebration wasn’t exciting enough, Rich Crosthwaite gave the day a huge boost of energy when he announced that he would soon be publishing a new book covering the Autavias. The book will feature approximately 50 models of the Autavia, with Paul Gavin handling the photography.
Stewart posted his line-up of “Lil’ Beauties”, including this pair of 11630s.
Darren showed us his “random mix” of Autavias
George posted groups photos of his collection, including the five shown in the photo on the left. Jason sent in a photo showing his five Autavias (on the right).
Shaun told us the story of his three “Shauntavias”. While we might have expected Shaun to post a “Shauntavia” (or two), who could have imagined that he would show us these three rare watches, issued by the Kenyan Air Force, each one in its “as found” condition. [For the newcomers here, the “Shauntavias” are distinguished by their Arabic numerals, placed radially, as popularized by our own Shaun Wainstein.] I mean, how many of us even knew that Kenya had an Air Force or that their pilots were using these distinctive looking Autavias!!
Paolo showed eight amazing Autavias, including these three beauties . . . of course, we needed to see a Chronomatic, sometime during the day!!
Amer proved that no celebration of the Autavia can be complete until the arrival of the “Orange Boy”, Reference 1163.
What a day . . . what a celebration . . . so when can we begin the celebration of the 50th Birthday of the Carrera?