Back in December we broke the news that TAG Heuer would re-release the Autavia as part of its 2017 Heritage Collection. And to make the choice of model more interactive, TAG Heuer has launched an online competition to help whittle the list down to a final four from which the production watch will be chosen. Here’s your chance to influence next year’s Baselworld release.
If you aren’t familiar with the Heuer Autavia, then we recommend that you immediately head over to the Ultimate Guide to the Vintage Heuer Autavia to understand just why the Autavia is such an important model in the history of TAG Heuer.
The History of the Autavia Re-edition
TAG Heuer’s first Autavia re-edition came in 2003 when the classic 1970s case design was re-issued with two colour options- Black & Orange and White & Blue. Rather than being a facsimile of the old watch, the design team, influenced by the return of Jack Heuer, instead modernised the Autavia design, right down to the classic “Grains of Rice” style bracelet. This was also the first- and so far only- Autavia to carry the TAG Heuer, rather than Heuer, logo.
The TAG Heuer Autavia was short-lived, and while it was under-appreciated at the time, the watch has picked up considerably interest in the last couple of years, with values well ahead of what they were five years ago. Given that TAG Heuer has already re-issued this case design, it makes sense that the 2017 Heuer Autavia will be inspired by the 1960s.
- It should be distinct from the Carrera: See, here is the problem. Back in the 1960s, the design of the Autavia and the Carrera were quite distinct. The Autavia had a black rotating bezel, while the Carrera was both smaller and had no external bezel. As the modern Carrera has evolved, it has borrowed many of it’s big brother’s styling cues, blurring the lines between the two models. We are going to make a choice that has as many unique elements from today’s Carrera, except for one…
- It should use the Generation 1 Case: Heuer made two versions of the Autavia in the 1960s, as you can see from our Ultimate Guide to the Autavia. The second generation model, with the compressor case (and identified by reference numbers ending in “C”) is intriguing, because while the Carrera of the 1960s and 70s followed the design of the first and third generation Autavia, there was never a Carrera that used a scaled-down version of the second generation Autavia. So that’s the natural choice then if we don’t want something too close to the Carrera. But again we hit an issue, because Sinn today use an almost identical case to the second generation Autavia on their 103 Classic. We like Sinn a lot, but we don’t want our shiny new Autavia re-edition to look like something else, so the second generation case is out. That means it’s a first generation case, even if that means it’s quite close to the classic 1960s Carrera case design.
- It should be a true re-edition: Collector Paul Gavin, who produced the outstanding images of the final sixteen contenders, has included four “fantasy” models that were never made by Heuer back in the 1960s. While many of these look so good, we wish that they did, it seems to defeat the purpose of the heritage collection to be issuing models that were never made. Yes, it’s been done by TAG Heuer before, but for “our” selection, we are going to stick to choosing between models that Heuer made.
Our Choice: Autavia 2446 Steel Hands/ Large Sub-dials
- Most Carrera heritage models have two registers, so we’ve gone for three here to elevate our Autavia ahead of the Carrera pack
- Likewise, we’ve chosen the larger sub-dials- again, not a feature used on any Carrera re-edition. Any small-sub-dial choice could be too close to a Carrera
- The steel hands look great and again tick the box on being different to the Carrera. We thought about the full-lume option, but think that these simply look better
- Simple hours bezel is the best choice and avoids another tachymeter bezel model
As regular readers will know, the large sub-dial Mk 1 2446 is not our favourite vintage Autavia- that honour goes to the Mk 3 2446 with steel hands (below)- but it’s the design that we feel best represents what made the Autavia such a special watch.
There’s only one choice of movement for our Autavia Re-edition, and that’s the Calibre CH80, which slated to return into production. We’d love to have a manual-wind option, but given that’s not a practical choice, we’ll happily have the 3-register CH80. We could use the CH80 on any of the two-register models too, but as TAG Heuer has gone to the trouble of engineering a 3-6-9 Chronograph, let’s use all of those features.
We hope that TAG Heuer keeps the size of the case down to a vintage-like 40mm or below and avoids the temptation to make the Autavia re-edition too large.
Lastly, TAG Heuer should also be careful not to over-do the “fake aged lume” look that many others, including Jaeger-LeCoultre and Omega, have chosen. We wouldn’t be opposed to a little yellowing of the lume (stark white may not look so good), but it’s important not to go too far and detract from the authenticity.
Have Your Say
Starting this Thursday, 17th of March, you’ll be able to visit TAG Heuer’s dedicated Autavia Cup Website and choose between a side-by-side shootout of two models. You’ll be able to vote online before 31st March 2016 for your favourite in each pair.
Much like a tennis tournament, the second online round of 8 head-to-head challenges will follow, to determine the 4 finalists before 14th April. TAG Heuer will then choose the winner from the final four on April 18, with the watch to be launched at Baselworld 2017.
Some collectors have expressed disappointment that they don’t get to choose the final watch, but there have been plenty of brands who make the mistake of committing to be bound by the public vote. Back in 2007 Alfa Romeo had a competition to choose the name for their new city car, with “Furiosa” winning the global poll. But Alfa said “thanks but no thanks” and instead opted for MiTo, a combination of where the car was designed and where it was made (“Milan and Torino”, because while some countries really, really liked “Furiosa”, many others hated it! See this as your chance to help influence the winner, rather than your chance to make the final product decision.
Discuss on the TAG Heuer and Vintage Heuer Forums
The Final Sixteen
Autavia 2446-Mk1 N Fantasy
Autavia 2446-Mk1 SN Fantasy
Autavia 3646-Mk1 SN Fantasy
Autavia 2446-Trans-SN Fantasy
Autavia 2446 Mk4
Autavia 2446c SN
Autavia 3646 Mk3
Autavia 2446 Mk1 Steel Hands
Autavia 3646 Mk1 Steel Hands
Autavia 3646 Mk1 Lume Hands
Autavia 2446 Mk1 Lume Hands
Autavia 2446 Mk3