Heuer Autavia
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Heuer Autavia

In the 1960s, the watch market was fast-paced and ever-changing. Freed from the economic constraints and austerity following World War II, the world roared into a future filled with promise. People turned from warlike pursuits to more sportsmanlike ones: flying, sailing, and, of course, driving.

It was in that last arena that Heuer really shined. Even in the company’s earliest years, when automobiles themselves were new, Heuer made clocks for race cars and stopwatches for those who timed the laps. Starting in 1933, Heuer released a line of stopwatches called the Autavia—a clever combination of the two purposes in which Heuer envisioned these watches would be used: automobiles and aviation.

But it was a dashboard clock in a rally car that would serve as the genesis for this watch, the Autavia wrist chronograph.

When he was acting as navigator for Swiss driver Samuel Heuer (no relation) during a rally in 1958, Jack Heuer misread his 12-hour Autavia stopwatch by a full minute, causing his team to come in third.

By 1961 he’d come to the conclusion that the Autavia stopwatch was redundant, and that it was ripe for a reinvigoration.

When the Heuer Autavia wrist chronograph blazed onto the scene, it was a move that for Heuer was entirely unprecedented. It was the first time that a wearable chronograph made by Heuer would have its own designated model name. And the watch itself was a watch unlike any Heuer had released before.

Heuer took great pains to ensure the Autavia’s suitability for all manner of sport, whether on or beneath the waves, tackling turns at a race track, or doing barrel rolls miles thousands of feet in the air. The “new pressurized stainless steel case,” or so an advert ran, guaranteed perfect functionality “at altitudes up to 35,000 feet or depths of 330 feet under water.” This was made possible with a screw-down case back (rarely-seen in racing chronographs), Incabloc shock protection, and a mainspring that Heuer’s adverts touted as being “unbreakable.”

For Jack Heuer, newly-made head of the company that his great-grandfather found in 1860, the new Autavia chronograph represented a new era for Heuer, blazing a trail for its enduring partnership with Formula 1 racing.

In the late 1960s, the Autavia shifted to a new compressor case design with a snap-on case back. This watch, a Reference 7763, is one of those variants. The case is capped with a rare 12 hour bezel, one of the three variants Heuer fitted to the Autavia; the others being minutes/hours and a tachymeter.

With tremendous looks, brilliant patina, and robust internals, it would be a tall order to find any vintage timepiece that’s more perfectly suited for a vintage motorsports enthusiast—and with demand for Heuers of this era reaching stratospheric proportions, time to own one is fast running out.

Details

SKU: AS02296

Stainless steel case is approximately 40mm (excluding crown and pushers). Reference 7763. Valjoux Calibre 7730.

Overall Condition: Case is in strong condition overall with crisp bevels. Dial is in very good condition with fine patina to the luminescent elements. Signed crown. Case back shows some signs of light polishing.

Includes one 20mm black leather strap.

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