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During the golden age of sports car racing, a chronograph watch was an essential piece of kit, and the Heuer Autavia is the watch that was worn by many of the greats. These were the days of Bell, Elford, and McQueen. The days of Porsche 917s with no traction control. The glory days of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
This was a special time in history, and Heuer chronographs were used to mark it, track it and record it. The Monaco is probably the best-known Heuer chronograph of the era, but for collectors like us, the Autavia is the one to own. Rolex has its Submariner, Breitling its Navitimer. Blancpain has its Fifty Fathoms and Audemars Piguet its Royal Oak. As far as we’re concerned, the Autavia is Heuer’s monolith, its pièce de résistance. The name "Autavia" comes from a combination of two words: Automotive & Aviation. The first Autavias were dashboard clocks and instrumentation used in automobiles and aircraft, and Heuer recycled the name and applied to their line of professional racing wrist chronographs.
The earliest Autavias were introduced in the mid-1960s and housed manually-wound chronograph movements, featuring a variety of dial and bezel configurations that have lately become incredibly desirable on the collector market. In 1969, these early manual-winders made way for the world's first automatic chronograph movement, the now-famous Calibre 11. The Autavia was one of the first models to receive the new Calibre 11 movements, and a new cushion case design was introduced simultaneously, heralding the change into a new era of design--the 1970s.
You’ll find more than a few cushion-case Autavias of varying executions in our archives, but this is a special find--the rare Reference 73663. This relatively obscure reference combined the best of the old: a robust, manual-winding Valjoux chronograph movement, with the best of the new: Heuer's brilliant new cushion case design. Although most of the Autavias manufactured after 1969 housed the new Calibre 11 automatic movements, there were a relatively small number produced with manual winding mechanisms. This was done for a number of reasons, ranging from the need to offer a "budget" range Autavia for certain markets to specifications for military-issue timepieces which required higher degrees of reliability and accuracy that had not yet been proven with their automatic Calibre 11.
Ultimately, these cushion case manual-winders are fairly uncommon on the market, making them all the more interesting and desirable. They are also marked by a slightly thinner wear, achieved by a case back that was much slimmer than those that had to compensate for the bulky winding oscillator of the Calibre 11. This particular example, fitted with a beautiful panda dial and the blue accents commonly associated with the "Siffert" Autavias, is in incredible condition and retains its original minutes/hours bezel. The Reference 73663 is a wonderful expression of perhaps one of the most revered of the classic Motorsports timepieces.
And for a comparison of early Autavia models, check out this great reference HERE at OnTheDash!
Stainless steel case is approximately 42mm (excluding crown and pushers). Heuer Autavia Reference 73663. Valjoux 7736 Manually-Wound Chronograph Movement. Circa 1970s.
Overall Condition: Stainless steel cushion case is in excellent condition overall with sharp lugs and no signs of over-polishing. Case does have slight signs of use consistent with age and handling, including some slight scratches on the lugs and on the sides of the case. Dial is in excellent condition with crisp printing and no signs of discoloration or hand drag. Luminescent elements on the hour markers and hands do show some signs of age, including a fine even patina. Heuer crown; Heuer case-back does show some slight signs of use but is in otherwise excellent condition.
Includes one 20mm black Headliner strap from Autodromo and two 20mm nylon straps from Crown & Buckle