The New TAG Heuer Autavia Is A Baselworld Big-Hitter
When TAG Heuer announced its new Carrera Calibre Heuer 02T Tourbillon Nanograph earlier this year, it was clear that its new carbon-composite hairspring technology was destined to play a much larger role in its product lines.
And true to its word, Baselworld has seen the unveiling of an entirely new line of Autavia timepieces, all of which come equipped with the cutting-edge material in their Calibre 5 movements. Comprising five references in 42mm stainless steel case, and two further references in bronze, the new Autavia reanimates a dial name that goes back to the very beginnings of TAG Heuer's (then simply "Heuer") history of watchmaking.
Originally conceived as a dashboard clock ('Autavia' being a combination of automobile and aviation), but mainly deployed in the timing of rallies, it was Jack Heuer who first decided to use it in one of the company's emblematic chronograph watches in 1962. Five years later, the Monaco would launch the brand as the automotive timekeeping specialists, but the Autavia's distinctive case and bevelled lugs earned it a following of its own, until the original model was discontinued in 1985.
Following its sale to LVMH, the Autavia was 'reanimated' in 2003 and earned a no less avid following from those fascinated by its unusual combination of crown and pushers (arrayed on opposing sides of its cushion case). However, by this time the Carrera was king, closely followed by a slew of equally iconic Monacos, and the Autavia was quickly consigned to 'also-ran'.
Also-ran maybe, but horological fossil? Far from it. In 2017, following a competition amongst TAG Heuer's global congiscenti to find the one watch it would like to see revived, the winner was revealed as a 1966 Autavia once worn by the racing driver Jochen Rindt, promoted by the actor-cum-racing driver Patrick Dempsey (below).
For 2019, TAG Heuer has doubled down on the Autavia's heritage with a complete collection of three-handed models based on the first-generation Autavia case from the Sixties. A bidirectional rotating bezel with a 60-minute scale in black ceramic, blue ceramic or stainless steel speaks to the original's breakthrough timing feature for which the Autavia first became famous, while an XL crown references from the pilot’s watches and timers used in its earliest years as a dashboard choronograph.
The original Autavia was also known for being highly legible in any conditions, and this is also the case with the 2019 versions, with the hour markers and hour, minute and seconds hands all coated in SuperLuminova®.
In a nod to the new, all models feature interchangeable straps (leather calfskin comes in light or dark brown and a NATO strap is included in all models sold on a bracelet) and all can be purchased separately and fitted at home. And in a further nod to the times, in addition to the stainless-steel Autavia three-hand models, there are a further two versions in bronze. These 42 mm timepieces with bronze cases feature smoked green or brown dials with their bidirectional rotating bezel in black or brown ceramic respectively.
TAG Heuer Autavia, from $3,770. TAGHeuer.com
Via British GQ