Last Updated on June 22, 2019 by Calibre 11
The Autavia is my favourite vintage Heuer series, in part because of the amazing diversity of the range. The Chronomatic Autavias formed the heart of the Heuer line-up from the time of their introduction in 1969, through to the last days of Heuer in 1984. During this time there were three distinct Autavia generations- 1163, 11630 and 11063.
Heuer Autavia Divers
The two watches above show two different styles of Diver Autavias- on the left, the Autavia 11630P from 1974 and on the right, the Autavia 11063P Diver 100 from 1982. While both watches are designed with the diving market in mind, they are quite different in execution.
The decompression bezel Autavia originated with the 1163P (P for “Plongeur“, the French word for Diver) model in the early 1970s, which evolved into the larger-case 11630P you see here. The diving Autavia is set apart from other models with its bright orange hands and highlights, and of course the decompression bezel. The watch itself has the same water-resistance as other Autavias- 100 meters.
This particular example is one that I owned a few years ago and can now be found at the official TAG Heuer boutique in Shanghai, where it is part of the collection of vintage Heuer Chronographs on display.
The Heuer Autavia 11063P Diver 100 is one of the most enigmatic Autavia models, and one that was probably never produced as a production model. A mock-up of a “11630 Diver 100” is shown in a 1982 Heuer Catalogue, but that watch is different to the final version you see here, which uses the 11063 case.
I suspect that Heuer planned to release this model, but given the traumatic events of 1982 (when the Swiss Banks forced Jack Heuer to “sell” Heuer to Piaget/ Lemania), it’s likely that the watch was never pushed out to dealers. We know that as part of their settlement with Heuer, several senior ex-Heuer employees were given parts and watches instead of their cash entitlements, and I suspect that this is where the Autavia 100 comes from.
What makes the Autavia Diver 100 so special is that it has a number of parts that appear on no other Autavia- the dial, hands and bezel- all very “Rolex-like”- are unique to this model. Putting aside the Chronomatic logo Autavias, the Diver 100 is the rarest Autavia model and one of the best-looking.
Autavia 11630P & Autavia 11063P Diver 100 Compared
Considering that both watches are aimed at Divers, it’s surprising how different the design concepts are. The Diver 100 is a study in Monochrome, with circular lume dots and a large Triangle marker at 12 o’clock.
The 11630P uses strips of lume (with a double-strip at 12 o’clock) to mark the hours, and features orange highlights on both the main dial and sub-dial.
This contrast in style extends to the hands, with the Autavia Diver 100 being the only Autavia model to feature the silver “Mercedes” style hands that would appear on all Heuer/ TAG Heuer watches through the 1980s and 1990s.
The 11630P uses the more traditional Autavia hands, this time painted in bright 1970s Orange.
Case and Pushers
While the two watches may appear similar, the 11630 and 11063 cases are quite different. The most obvious of these differences are the pushers- note the 11630 (above) has its pushers integrated into the case, while the case of the 11063 features a cut-away section to accommodate the pushers.
Heuer Autavia GMT
The second Autavia pair are two examples of Autavia’s that could measure a second time-zone- known as a “GMT” function. On the left is the 1630 GMT (left) from 1976 and on the right is the “11063” GMT from 1983- those inverted commas will be explained shortly.
Like the 11630P Diver, this is the second-generation of Automatic Autavia GMT watches, following on from the original 1163 GMT. These watches are instantly recognisable by their bright blue and red bezels, use to delineate between AM and PM. These bright bezels are rotated to line up against the yellow GMT hand to indicate the time in a second time-zone. Heuer referred to the GMT version of it’s Chronomatic movement as the Calibre 14.
The 11630 GMT shares a much of its dial with the 11630P- the only real difference- apart from the script- is that the GMT watch uses white hour/ minute and sub-dial hands, while the Diver version uses bright orange hour/ minute hands and black sub-dial hands.
We start to see several anomalies in the Heuer catalogs during this time. This watch, for example, is referred to in the Catalogue as a “11630 GMT” and has 11630 marked between the lugs.
However, the case shares many similarities- but is not the same as- the 11063 case, and so to distinguish between the model, this series is commonly referred to as a 11063 GMT. If you’re already confused by the jumble of Heuer reference numbers, this won’t help things.
Autavia 11630 GMT & Autavia 11063 GMT Compared
As mentioned above, even though both cases are marked 11630, they are quite different
Frustratingly, you can see that even with the correct bracelet end-pieces (above), the bracelet on the 11063 GMT is not a neat fit with the case.
The 11063 case above is larger than the 11630 case, although different in style to the “pure” 11063 case used in the Autavia Diver 100. While the normal 11063 case features a cut-out section for pushers on top of the case, that is not what we see here on the “11063” GMT.
As with the two dive Autavias, these two GMTs take a very different approach to dial design. The 11063 (above) features an all-black dial with silver raised indexes, while the 11630 also has a black dial, but with lume strips and orange 5-minute segments on the 30-minute register.
There is a second version of the 11630 GMT Autavia which has contrasting white sub-dials, with the all-black version being the rarer of the two.
The final difference you notice is the colour of the bezels- a deep blue for the 11063 (below) and a more turquoise blue for the 11630. Extra points if you noticed that the 11063 GMT loses the serif script on the word “GMT”.
As we’ve showed you before on Calibre 11, it’s possible to restore many areas of a vintage Autavia, most notably the case. Hands- while hard to restore- can generally be found, which leaves two parts- the dial and the bezel.
My approach with the dial is to either leave it alone- as I did on this 11063 GMT- or to try and replace it. You can clean a dial, but it’s never a good idea to “touch it up” with a little paint here and there. You’ll destroy the value immediately and more than 90% of “re-dials” can be instantly spotted and look terrible.
The bezels simply can’t be repaired and there are no decent generic replacements available. TAG Heuer ran out of spare bezels some time ago for most models, and so for these watches it is the bezel that is the key to value.
Part of the magic of collecting vintage watches is picking your way through the minute differences between the various models, which has to be done with an understanding that production standards were very different in the 1970s and 80s, when Heuer would simply change parts mid-stream…and without anyone on the internet noticing!
As for the Autavia, we can only hope that TAG Heuer finds the right opportunity to bring back the Autavia re-edition, as it did with the Monza in 2011. If it does, the GMT and Diver versions should be right at the front of the queue, whether they be based on the 11630 or the 11063. Either would make a fantastic addition to the modern TAG Heuer range.