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By the time Jack Heuer took the helm of the company that his great-grandfather had founded in 1860, the Heuer name was not unknown in racing and flying circles. Starting in 1911, the company produced dashboard clocks for cars, boats, and even airplanes. When Jack Heuer, a longtime racing aficionado, assumed leadership of the company in 1962, he saw an opportunity to revitalize—or at the very least reexamine—the company’s already-successful line of chronographs.
He first tried his hand with the Autavia, which at the time of his succession was a stopwatch with an illegible dial. In its place he launched the line of Autavia wrist chronographs. The Autavia was the first line of chronographs produced by Heuer to have a model name.
Furthermore, the Autavia was purpose-built for racers and pilots, and attracted the attention of Formula 1 racers and aficionados such as Jochen Rindt and Steve McQueen.
Heuer released the Autavia in six case sizes and configurations, all made of stainless steel. The earliest models had screw case backs, unusual for racing chronographs of the period, which Heuer used from 1962 to 1965. These examples can be distinguished from their successors by the width of their rotating bezels, which got substantially thinner later in the run.
Around 1968, Heuer shifted to a snap-back compressor case for improved water resistance. This was a totally new case design for Heuer, which was phased out from catalogs around 1970 in favor of the cushion cased versions housing the brand-new automatic chronograph movement. At 40.4 mm the snap-back compressor cases were larger than their predecessors. A salient feature of these cases are their thick, bevelled lugs, sharply angled.
Though the Reference 2446 is perhaps the most plentiful (or at least most commonly-seen) of compressor-cased Autavias, Heuer produced another version, the Reference 7763. The Reference 7763, released at the end of the 60s when Heuer was first starting to use compressor cases, marked a transitional period for the Autavia. Along with a change in case, these watches were fitted with the Valjoux Caliber 7730, replacing the stalwart Valjoux 92.
This particular Reference 7763 has a desirable “reverse panda” dial configuration and an MH bezel. The bevels on the lugs are thick, losing nothing of their sharpness. It’s an imminently-wearable version of a lesser-seen, classic chronograph from Heuer.
Stainless steel case is approximately 40mm (excluding crown and pushers). Reference 7763. Valjoux Caliber 7730 Manually-Wound Chronograph Movement. Circa late 1960s.
Overall Condition: Stainless steel compressor case is in very good condition with minimal signs of use and wear throughout. MH bezel has some dings and scratches throughout but is in otherwise very good condition. Dial is in very good condition with no major signs of discoloration or hand drag. Dial does have signs of age, particularly to the luminescent elements of the hour markers and hands. Heuer crown. Heuer case back has some scratches and tool marks but is in otherwise good condition.
Includes one 19mm taupe leather strap and two 19mm nylon straps from Crown & Buckle