Heuer Autavia 'Derek Bell'

Heuer Autavia 'Derek Bell'

The name Viceroy, the once-robust cigarette company, has become almost synonymous with the Reference 1163 Heuer Autavia.  After all, it was the Viceroy promotion that almost single-handedly saved Heuer from Bankruptcy...

The story goes that Heuer had a difficult time selling chronographs wristwatches in the early 1970s, and at that time still sold vastly more stopwatches than wristwatches. At the same time that Heuer struggling to sell watches, Viceroy was struggling with its cigarette business. Viceroy had already partnered with the Parnelli Jones racing team to position their brand as the sportsman’s cigarette, and they approached Heuer, the leader in track timing, to come up chronograph promotion. Heuer produced a special version of the 1163, the 1163V for the deal, and together with Viceroy, offered the watch for $88 when someone mailed in the end flap of a Viceroy cigarette carton.

But this 1163 isn’t one of the watches.

So, what exactly is the difference between a Viceroy and 1163MH?  The first difference is that the Viceroy models were given the reference number "1163V," engraved between the lugs, instead of just "1163".  The Viceroy also came fitted with Autavia hands with a bright red center flash, reminiscent of the Viceroy logo.  They also had dials with a unique hour register - each hour was demarcated with a number, making for a busier look.  Lastly, Viceroys were almost always sold with tachymeter bezels.  

The 1163 MH (the MH denoting the minute/hour bezel) was sold in authorized dealers for $200 during the time period of the Viceroy promotion, coming in with black or white dials (the white dial is what collectors call the Siffert today). The Viceroy promotion let people buy a virtually identical copy of a $200 watch for less than half the price, and Heuer sold Viceroys in droves. Today the 1163V is the most commonly seen vintage Autavia by a large margin, making the 1163MH the more interesting and sought-after black dialed Autavia to collectors. 

Motorheads will also recognize the 1163MH as the watch worn by Derek Bell, famous race car driver and five-time winner of the Le Mans 24-hour race.  Bell's enthusiasm for Heuer is well documented, but it was the 1163 that he favored and wore while racing.  This fact makes this watch a real 'watch nerd's' watch, but also speaks to the important pedigree that it carries today.  

This 1163 MH is in absolutely stunning condition, having recently been overhauled by master Heuer watchmaker Abel Court.  With almost no signs of wear and a lovely dial, handset and bezel, this Autavia checks every box.   

If you’d like to learn more about the Viceroy and 1163s, click on over to HODINKEE, HERE.


Stainless Steel case is approximately 42mm (exluding crown). Heuer Reference 1163. Calibre 11 Automatic Chronograph Movement. Early 1970s.

Overall Condition: The watch is in excellent condition over all, with signs of a very recent overhaul. Bevels are strong and radial brushing is very sharp. Case shows almost no signs of wear. Black Autavia dial is in very pleasing condition, showing a light fade. Dial and handset appear to have been relumed, but have been done so with extreme care and give a great aged appearance. Fluted pushers engage the chronograph functions sharply and reset is snappy. Ratcheting bi-directional bezel is in very good condition. Heuer-signed crown; screw case back.

Includes one 20mm Headliner Strap by Autodromo with signed bucke and two 20mm nylon straps by Crown & Buckle.

SKU: AS01505

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