Heuer Autavia 'Siffert Colors'
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Heuer Autavia 'Siffert Colors'

Why We Love It

 The 1960s and 1970s are commonly regarded as the golden age of sports car racing. Sex was safe and racing was dangerous. Limits were pushed, records set and demolished, lives lost. Legends were born on the race track- names like Jim Clark, Graham Hill, & Jo Siffert.

Chronograph wrist watches were an essential piece of kit for these men, and the Heuer Autavia was worn by many of the great drivers of the day. This was due in no small part to Siffert, a Swiss race car driver and friend of Jack Heuer's, who became the de facto brand ambassador, hocking watches for Jack between races and off-season to his fellow drivers. Jo Siffert was known to be particularly affectionate towards the cushion-cased Autavia with the white and black 'panda' dial configuration, and it is from his association that these beautiful pieces got their nickname. 

The 'Siffert Colors' Reference 73663 differs from the model worn by Jo in that it features a triple-register dial layout and a manual wind movement instead of the complicated and somewhat unreliable Calibre 11 automatic. This particular example is in near mint condition- remarkably rare considering that these pieces were built as instruments first and used as hard as the cars their owners drove. The triple register dial layout and aforementioned blue accents offer a brilliant contrast with the warm cream-colored luminous plots. With its razor sharp factory-finish edges, comfortable cushion case, and reliable manual winding chronograph movement, this example is a time capsule from an age of bold style and daring drivers. 

Sure, the automatics hog all the attention, but we'll be damned if this isn't a better looking, more reliable, and more budget-conscious way to show your appreciation for Jo Siffert and the racers who defined an era.

The Story

A year after joining the company, Jack Heuer found himself in the cockpit of a racing car as navigator. On the dashboard was one of his family’s dashboard clocks—an Autavia. However, the dial of the Autavia proved hard to read in the bone-shaking interior of a rally car, and he misread the dial by a minute. Infuriated, Jack set about to make the Autavia easier to read, giving it a large central minute hand.

Four years later, when Jack assumed the reins of the company, he saw the potential for the Autavia to move from the dashboard to the wrist. Jack Heuer’s Autavia was the first line of chronographs produced by Heuer to bear a model name. At the time of its introduction, there wasn’t a wrist chronograph in existence that had automotive racing as its sole genesis (the Rolex Daytona being a year from birth).

It soon attracted the attention of Formula 1 racers, a relationship which Heuer cultivated. He became a fixture in the pits at the major race courses of the world. In 1969, he would befriend a driver who’d become Heuer’s first brand ambassador—Jo Siffert, who was given an automatic version of the Autavia with a distinctive cushion case.

Siffert was an early enthusiast of this new model of Autavia with its cushion case design, and would often try to persuade fellow drivers to buy one while they were on the racing grid. 

Details

SKU: AS03201

Stainless steel cushion case is approximately 42mm (excluding the crown). Heuer Reference 73663. Valjoux 7736 manual-winding chronograph movement. Circa 1972.

Overall Condition: The case is in spectacular condition showing factory finishing, no signs of polish and only the slightest signs of wear from handling. Luminous 'panda' dial is in excellent condition. Luminous handset is in similarly excellent condition. Signed crown.

Includes stainless steel Gay Freres "Beads of Rice" bracelet with HLD end links and signed clasp.

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