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A chronograph is essential to motorsports, and many of the best drivers of the golden age of Formula 1 racing--the 1960s and 1970s--strapped a Heuer to their wrists. Perhaps one of the most iconic racing chronographs is the Heuer Autavia. Heuer first applied the name "Autavia" (a portmanteau of "automotive" and "aviation," signifying its intended use in both automobiles and aircraft) to dashboard clocks in cars and airplanes. But it's with the chronographs intended for use in motorsports that the name "Autavia" is best associated. To us here at analog/shift, the Autavia epitomizes racing chronographs.
The earliest Autavias were introduced in the mid-1960s and housed manually-wound chronograph movements. These early models had screw-down case backs, unusual for racing chronographs of the period. Then, around 1969, Heuer began using a snap-back compressor case for improved water resistance; however, in the 1970s, Heuer shifted to the large, cushion-style cases that are most often associated with the model, primarily to accommodate the new Caliber 11 movement.
This Autavia 2446C is from the second generation of Autavia wristwatches, featuring a larger compression case than the earlier models, and a redesigned rotating bezel. The 40mm case is thin for its size, and the downwardly-angled lugs hug the wrist, making it very easy to wear. The inverse panda dial is probably the most popular color way in today's chronograph market, and if there’s one thing Heuer knows, it’s how to make a beautiful dial. This 2446C differs from the first execution in that the markers are different, with the lume applied directly to the dial. Ours is one of the later models of this reference, as evinced by the addition of subtle red accents to the dial and a matching red chronograph hand.
The Valjoux 72 movement inside, the same as the Rolex Daytona and Universal Geneve Nina Rindt, is one of the best chronograph calibers ever made, another indication of the incredible quality that Heuer brought to market. With its svelte profile, easy to slip under a cuff, 40mm case, great movement and attractive dial, the Autavia is a nearly perfect vintage chronograph, both a testament to the endurance its design a well as its impeccable racing heritage.
Stainless steel case is approximately 42mm (excluding crown). Heuer Ref. 2446C, Valjoux Caliber 72 manually-wound movement.
Overall condition: Stainless steel case is in very good condition overall, with only the slightest signs of wear and use in keeping with its age. The dial is in very good condition with light even patina and only some signs of discoloration in the chronograph registers at 9 and 6 o'clock. Luminescent elements on the hands have aged to an even patina, which is reflected in that on the hour markers. Rotating bezel shows some slight chipping at the poles but is otherwise in very good condition. Signed crown; unsigned case back.
Includes one 20mm brown leather analog/shift strap and two 20mm nylon straps from Crown & Buckle