Like many things to do with Heuer watches from the early 1980s, the story of the Autavia Diver 100 is hard to untangle. The watch is from the last of the Autavia range- the 11063V- with its distinctive over-sized case and heavily scalloped bezel. Today the watch is second only to the Chronomatic Siffert Autavia in terms of value and scarcity. Yet, there are some odd things going on
- Why are we all of a sudden seeing a relative flood (albeit a trickle in absolute terms) of these watches on the market?
- Why are many of them Mint/ NOS?
- What is the story of the Decompression bezel fitted to some of the Diver 100s?
- What happened to the Autavia 11630 Diver 100?
The first three questions are linked- and the key to unlocking them is in this TAG Heuer packet on the right
The 11063 Decompression Bezel
The Diver versions of the Heuer Autavia have always been among the scarcest and most highly regarded. There were three versions of the Autavia that were designed for the Diver market- the 1163P, the 11630P and the 11063P- the Diver 100. The first two of these watches have what is known as a decompression bezel, with a red triangle at the top of the bezel and a Red “40” at 3 o’clock. The Diver 100 has what is referred to as a “Rolex-style” bezel, without these red markers.
For more information on the differences between these three models, take a look at www.heuerautavia.com where Alex has contrasted the case and bezel designs of these three Autavia variants.
Below is a photo showing each of these watches. Note that the Diver 100 is wearing a decompression bezel similar to the 1163 and 11630. This is the bezel that is in that white TAG Heuer packet shown earlier. Sitting next to the 11063P Diver 100 on the far right is the more familiar Rolex-bezel.
But what is that decompression bezel on the 11063? It is commonly accepted that the Diver 100 did not come with a decompression bezel- so there are four options:
- Its the Bezel from a 1163 or 11630 Diver
- Its not a genuine Heuer bezel
- Its a very rare version of the Diver 100
- Its a genuine Heuer bezel, but not meant for the Diver 100
1. A 1163/ 11630 bezel?
No, this bezel can’t be for a 1163P or 11630P. While its hard to make out from the photos, the 1163 and 11630P bezels have a shiny finish, unlike the matte finish of the decompression bezel we see on the Diver 100. Secondly, the bezels themselves are not interchangeable and so would not fit a 11063 Autavia
2. So, is it Heuer?
Yes, it appears that the bezel is a genuine Heuer item. TAG Heuer have confirmed that its a genuine part, although they are unable to confirm which watch it was meant for. These bezels are still available from TAG Heuer, so we can be confident that its a genuine part.
3. So, a different version of the Diver 100?
No. In my view the Diver 100 was never sold with the decompression bezel. TAG Heuer say that there was never a decompression bezel made for the Diver 100. Secondly, these bezels seem to have only appeared in the last 2-3 years- no-one can recall seeing one of these fitted to a watch before about 2005- Given that the Diver 100 was made around 1984, surely we would have seen these before now? Thirdly, Have you ever seen one of these Diver 100 decompression bezels in anything less than mint condition? Bezels normally get beaten up fast on tool watches, especially ones that are more than 20 years old. None of the decompression Diver 100’s look to have “20 years” of wear and tear.
4. Only option left- must be for another watch
Yes, in my view this bezel was made by Heuer in the early 1980s for a Diver version of the Autavia that never saw the light of day. As the Autavia range was canceled, these bezels have been sitting dormant for 20 years. TAG Heuer have now run out of the Diver 100 Rolex bezel, and so if a watch comes in needing a new bezel they are offering the 11063 decompression bezels that have been sitting idle
Why are we seeing these bezels now?
As mentioned above, TAG Heuer are now using these parts as replacements for Diver 100 watches that need repair- there are just no more Rolex bezels left. However, there is also the danger that some of the Diver 100 watches seen on the market today are not genuine watches assembles by Heuer in the 1980s, but rather watches put together from genuine Heuer parts. Given that a Diver 100 is worth more than twice the price of other 11063 models, there is a risk that “new” Diver 100s are being assembled from spare 11063 cases and Diver 100 dials- the only part not available for these watches is the original bezel, and so the watchmaker uses the next best option.
This is not to say that an Autavaia Diver 100 that comes with the decompression bezel is not a genuine Heuer watch- a genuine watch with a damaged bezel that is sent to TAG Heuer for a new bezel will come back with one of these decompression bezels. However, there is a risk. How much of a risk? Well, that would only be a concern if there was a sudden rush of Diver 100 watches onto the market
Is there an increase in supply of Autavia Diver 100 watches?
Yes, but from a very low base. In 2007, Heuerautavia.com estimated that there were only four of these watches known to be in existence. Even allowing for significantly more watches that sit outside the collecting community, the point is clear that this is a very, very rare watch. Looking through ChronoTrader over the last two years, I would estimate that there have been up to 10 of these watches available. In addition, there have been another 2-3 on sale over at eBay. This by no means indicates a flood of watches, but it is a lot more than the volume that used to be available.
Why? It could be that because the Autavia Diver 100 is so valuable that collectors who had one have chosen to sell them to cash in on their increased value.It could be because someone is creating more Diver 100s from genuine parts. Of course, its impossible to say which reason is correct, or whether its a combination of the two.
A 11630 Diver 100?
Just when the Diver 100 story looks finished, there is another twist. Its generally accepted that the Diver 100 was released around 1984 and that there is a photo of the watch in A Heuer “Specials” catalog to confirm the authenticity of the model. But take a closer look at that Catalog photo:
A 11630? But the Autavia Diver 100 is a 11063, not a 11630. So what is this? Did Heuer make TWO versions of the Diver 100? There are two versions in the OnTheDash.com Master reference Table.
However, I suspect that they did not and that this catalog is simply mistaken. Note that the watch shown appears to have a 11063 case (the give way being the way that the case is cut away at the top of the pushers), although with a 11630 bezel. Sometimes Heuer catalogs were made with pre-production watches, or with images produced by the art department, rather than having photos of the actual watch, so its not possible to draw too many conclusions from this catalog. Oh, and the date on the Catalog? 1982- two years before we see the 11063 Diver produced.
Looks like Heuer had planned to produce a Rolex-style Autavia for some time- but that it took some time to get the watch to market.
So that is the story of the Heuer Autavia Diver 100- one of the last of the Heuer Autavia line. As has been mentioned several times, the early 1980s were a dramatic time at Heuer, and so variants of watches were produced that didn’t actually appear in catalogs. Maybe these unknowns about the Diver 100 adds to the mystique of the watch and helps to make it one of the most sought-after vintage Heuers.
Thanks: Many thanks to those who helped provide information for this post- you know who you are!! Also thanks to TAG Heuer for their assistance.