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The Heuer Autavia is the real deal. During the golden age of sports car racing, a chronograph watch was an essential piece of kit, and the Autavia is the watch that was worn by many of the greats. This one, ladies and gentlemen, is the real McCoy.
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, it’s 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 and outstanding "Beads Of Rice" bracelent by Gay Freres. 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 as far as we're concerned! This particular example, fitted with a beautiful panda dial and the blue accents commonly associated with the "Siffert" Autavias, retains its original minutes/hours bezel and Gay Freres bracelet. In absolutely stunning condition inside and out, this model absolutely exemplifies the era - and of course the fact that it has arguably more legit racing heritage than that other well-known panda dial Valjoux-powered chronograph doesn't hurt things one bit!
This is truly a remarkable watch and a favorite of the analog/shift team. Chances to own one of these triple register versions do not come around often, so if you're looking for something a little different (and totally awesome!), don't miss out.
And for a comparison of early Autavia models, check out this great reference HERE at OnTheDash!
Steel case is is approximately 42mm (excluding the crown). Heuer Reference 73663. Valjoux 7736 Manual-Winding Chronograph Movement. Circa 1972.
Overall condition: Case is in exceptional condition, retaining crisply defined brushing and beveling. Original dial is in superb condition showing even patination across the luminescent plots. Devoid of any signs of staining, spotting, or hand drag. Original hands are in excellent condition. Original crown, fluted pushers and case back..
Includes original Gay Freres "Beads of Rice" bracelet with HLD end links and two 20mm nylon straps by Crown & Buckle.