TAG Heuer Autavia- What went wrong?
The retro trend that kicked off in the late 1990′s must have been a dream for the marketing and product development guys. Step 1) Rifle through your brands old product catalog. Step 2) Modernise the design- a little. Step 3) Pump out a heritage based ad campaign. Step 4) Lunch.
Put yourself in the shoes of the team at TAG: the Carrera and Monaco re-editions had been a huge success for the company- how long must it have taken for someone to realise that there had not yet been a re-edition of the other famous model from the 1970′s- the Autavia?
On the face of it, the decision to introduce a re-edition Autavia must have been what the marketing guys would call a “no-brainer”- so why did the model disappear within two years of release while the Carrera and Monaco are still going strong for TAG today?
The TAG Heuer Autavia re-edition (ref. CY2111) was launched in 2003. To launch the watch, TAG also released a limited number of special collector sets that had both a dash timer as well as the watch- playing on the heritage of the Autavia as a timer, not just a Heuer wristwatch. Seventy sets of these were produced in Siffert Blue and seventy in Orange- cost was almost US$8000 for the set. Reading back through the old posts at onthedash.com, its interesting to see how favourable the reaction was to the idea of the timer/ watch combo.
So lets look at the watch itself first- below are the three versions of the TAG Heuer Autavia and the Heuer Autavia models that these re-editions were based on:
As you can see from the photo above, TAG adopted a different strategy for the Autavia re-editions, making them more modern interpretations of the key Autavia design features, rather than just copying the old design. The watch had a fixed rather than rotating bezel and initially came in the two most popular colours of the old Autavia- White with blue accents and black with Orange accents. The Rose Gold model was added later as a limited edition of 150.
TAG spent a lot of time on the bracelet for the Autavia, giving it a similar look to the original G&F “Grains of Rice” bracelet, but in a much sturdier design. The pushers moved away from the cylindrical shape of the old Heuer models to the design used on the modern Monaco re-edition- a mistake that TAG continues to make today in my opinion.
TAG also decided that it was time to drop the “Heuer” branding that it had used in the past re-edition series and instead these watches wore the TAG Heuer branding.
Overall, I think that the design is a great success- enough old design cues for the old Heuer collectors, but modern enough to look like a contemporary model.