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For such a traditional art as watchmaking, the watch market is a fast-paced and ever-changing one. The 1960s in particular were a period of rapid growth, with Heuer leading the way in the category of sporting chronographs. In just five short decades, from the time the first wristwatch was invented to the time the Autavia debuted, wrist chronographs went from primitive mono pushers to the lean, mean timekeeping machine seen here.
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. And it was in that last arena that Heuer led the pack.
Heuer and racing have been intricately linked, ever since the earliest days of motorsports. Watches made by Heuer could be found mounted on the dashboards of race cars, or clutched in the hands of the officials who timed the laps. Many of these watches bore the name Autavia—a clever combination of AUTomotive and AVIAtion, the two arenas in which Heuer envisioned the watch would be used.
The debut of the Heuer Autavia represented a new era for the brand, and it was during this time that the relationship between the manufacture and competitive racing was solidified.
This was made possible with the Autavia’s sturdy case (a snap-back compressor case in this version, the Reference 2446C), Incabloc shock protection, and a mainspring that Heuer’s adverts touted as being “unbreakable.” These features—along with an easy-to-read dial and robust internals—made the Autavia ideal for use in the cockpit of a carburated cruiser. Altogether, it was miles ahead of its competition, pre-dating the Rolex Daytona for several years.
It would be a tall order to find any vintage timepiece that’s more perfectly suited for a vintage motorsports enthusiast than the Autavia. However, with demand for Heuers of this era reaching stratospheric proportions, it’s hard to find one that is—more than being collectible—actually wearable without terrible concern for the condition or, more aptly, for one's wallet. This one, which shows the signs of a life well lived is the perfect compromise, ready for whatever you want to throw at it!
Available exclusively at Marshall Pierce
Stainless steel case is approximately 40mm (excluding crown). Reference 2446C. Valjoux 72 Manually-Wound Chronograph Movement. Circa late 1960s.
Overall Condition: Case is in good condition overall, showing signs of wear and polishing. Dial is in good condition, showing signs of age and patina with some lume loss. Signed crown.
Includes one 20mm brown perforated leather rally-style strap.
Analog/Shift stands behind the authenticity of our products in perpetuity.
We back each Analog/Shift vintage timepiece with a one-year mechanical warranty from the date of purchase.
All of our watches include complementary insured shipping within the 50 states. We are happy to hand deliver your purchase in Manhattan or you may pick it up at our showroom.
Please contact us prior to purchase for additional details on shipping and payment options