Heuer Autavia "Siffert Colors"
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Heuer Autavia "Siffert Colors"

The son of a dairy farmer, Joseph "Jo" Siffert (called Seppi by his friends) drove into history as the last "privateer" to win a Grand Prix.

Born in Fribourg, Switzerland, in 1936, Siffert's first love was motorcycles. He paid for his first bike by selling wildflowers he picked. Initially he raced motorcycles, paying the entry fee for races with money he scrounged by selling scrap metal and used cars.

By 1959 he had become the Swiss 250cc champion, and the next year found him on four wheels in the Formula Junior circuit. 

In 1962 he broke into the Formula 1 circuit as a privateer--meaning, a driver who wasn't sponsored by any particular car manufacturer. Siffert bought his own car, a Lotus 22 in which he made his Formula 1 debut. Though Siffert placed sixth, he was firing on all cylinders from then on out.

Disagreements with the boss of the Swiss Ecurie Filipinetti team led Siffert to purchase a Brabham-BRM and form his own team. Without the support of a manufacturer, life as a privateer was a tough one. Many nights Siffert in his teammates would sleep in farmhouses near the race track, or even in sleeping bags under the stars.

His persistence paid off, and in 1964 he won the Mediterranean Grand Prix at Enna-Pergusa, narrowly edging out Jim Clark. A year later, he would beat Clark again. This victory, coupled with successes at Watkins Glen and the Nurburgring, put him on the map of young racers to watch.

The following year, 1966, saw him at the top of the podium at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. When the champagne bottle that was handed to him sprayed over the crowd that was there to congratulate him, he unwittingly started a trend. 

1968 was a banner year for Siffert, in which he won the British Grand Prix, 24 Hours of Sebring, the 1000km race at the Nurburgring, and a 100km race in Austria. It was also the year that Heuer released their first automatic chronograph, the Calibre 11 or Chronomatic. The name of Heuer wasn't unknown in racing circles, but Siffert was an early enthusiast of the new model of Autavia with its cushion case design, and would often try to persuade fellow drivers to buy one while they were on the racing grid. 

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 73363. 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. 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. It is believed that this was done for a number of reasons, ranging from the need to offer a "budget" range Autavia for certain markets to fulfilling 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. They are also marked by a slightly thinner wear, achieved by a case back that was much slimmer than those that had to compensate for the bulky winding oscillator of the Calibre 11.

This particular example, fitted with a beautiful panda dial and the blue accents commonly associated with the "Siffert" Autavias, is in incredible condition and bears a gorgeous tachymetre bezel.

The Reference 73663 is a wonderful expression of perhaps one of the most revered of the classic Motorsports timepieces; the Siffer Autavia is the ideal combination of pedigree, heritage and damn fine looks.  

Details

SKU: AS01988

Stainless steel case is approximately 42mm (excluding crown and pushers). Heuer Reference 73363. Valjoux Calibre 7733 Manually-Wound Chronograph Movement. Circa late 1960s.

Overall Condition: Stainless steel cushion case is in very good condition with sharp bevels on the lugs. Case does have signs of use and wear throughout, including some scratches on the sides of the case and between the lugs. Rotating bezel is in good condition, showing signs of age and use. Dial is in excellent condition with crisp printing. Luminescent elements of the hour plots show fine even patina, which is matched on that of the hands. The hands show some very light signs of deterioration, particularly in the minute hand. Heuer-signed crown. Heuer case back has some signs of wear but is in otherwise very good condition.

Includes one 20mm black leather rally strap from Crown & Buckle.

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