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When people think of military watches, their minds often go directly to World War II, and rightly so. Hundred of thousands of timepieces flowed from that great cauldron of war that threatened to consume the world, making it once of the richest eras for vintage military collectors.
But digging deeper, a larger world of military timepieces unfolds, offering a bevy of interesting side notes from many of the most collectible brands, in this instance, Heuer.
The Heuer Autavia Reference 73663 'Bundeswehr' is not a well-known military watch. For most enthusiasts, 'Bundeswehr' conjures one specific Heuer, the Ref. 1550SG Chronograph. Produced for the German military in the 1960s, the 1550SG is for many the quintessential mil-spec Heuer chrono.
But the Ref. 73663 Bund doesn't deserve to play second fiddle to its elder brother. With limited production beginning in 1974, this Autavia seems to have only made appearances in obscure German brochures - most sources don't even know exactly when production concluded or just how many were actually made. What's clear is that these were produced by Heuer under contract for the German Armed Forces. From its design it's clear that the contract specified a Bund-spec dial, and Heuer clearly leaned on its experience with the 1550SG to produce it. This time, it produced a triple-register layout and utilized a hand-cranked Valjoux 7736 drivetrain, topping the time-keeping capabilities with an MH bezel.
While the Ref. 73663 Bundeswehrs isn't iconic, it is an incredible combination of features; the 1970s cushion case Autavias are visually stunning and wear wonderfully, especially when driven by manual-winding movement which allowed the cases to be slightly thinner. The subdued military-style dial with luminous Arabic numerals harks to decades of spartan military timepiece production while injecting Heuer's distinct design language. The result is drool-worthy.
This particular piece comes from the cache of private collection and has escaped the common mistreatment so common among military watches. Perfectly under-the-radar, this one is the military watch you never saw coming...
Stainless Steel case is approximately 42mm (excluding crown). Heuer Reference 73663. Valjoux 7736 Manually-Wound Movement. Circa 1974.
Overall Condition: The watch is in very good condition over all, with a few light wear marks consistent with gentle use. Matte black dial is clean and shows no signs of degradation save a light fade. Luminescent material is sharp and in tact. Heuer handset is in good condition, and luminous hour and minute hand appear to have been relumed, likely many years ago. Ratcheting bi-directional bezel is in good condition showing light signs of wear. Fluted pushers, Heuer-signed crown; screw case back.
Includes two 20mm nylon straps by Crown & Buckle.
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