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Heuer Autavia. Say that name and you conjure images of motorsports par excellence. Heuer first applied the name "Autavia" (a portmanteau of "automotive" and "aviation," signifying its intended use in both automobiles and aircraft) to dashboard clocks in cars and airplanes. But it's with the chronographs intended for use in motorsports that the name "Autavia" is best associated, and to us here at analog/shift, the Autavia is the pièce de résistance, the epitome of racing chronographs, used by such racing greats as Jo Siffert.
The earliest Autavias were introduced in the mid-1960s and housed manually-wound chronograph movements. These early models had screw-down case backs, unusual for racing chronographs of the period. Then, around 1969, Heuer began using a snap-back compressor case for improved water resistance; however, in the 1970s, Heuer shifted to the large, cushion-style cases that are most often associated with the model, primarily to accommodate the new Caliber 11 movement.
The rare Reference 73663 is an example of the larger, cushion-cased variety of Autavia, but is unusual in that it doesn't contain the Caliber 11. Instead it driven by a robust, manual-winding Valjoux chronograph movement, the Valjoux 7736. Indeed, most of the Autavias manufactured after 1969 did house the new Calibre 11 automatic movements, but a relatively small number were produced with manual winding mechanisms. Heuer's logic behind this move remains ambiguous, but there could have been several motives behind it: for instance, to provide a "budget" chronograph using the leftover manual-wind movements (as what happened when Zales released re-branded Heuers with manual-wind movements under its house brand, Baylor). Also, many Ref. 73663 Autavias were made to military specifications; these can be distinguished from others in that reference by the white chronograph sweeping hand, rather than the red of the present watch.
Ultimately, these cushion case manual-winding Autavias are fairly uncommon on the market, making them all the more interesting and desirable. This particular example, fitted with a lightly faded reverse-panda dial and the red accents commonly associated with the "Viceroy" Autavias, retains its original minutes/hours bezel, which has faded over time and gained an awesome weathered look.
These manual-winding cushion-cased Autavias are a perennial favorite here at analog/shift, largely due to their slightly slimmer case (the lack of a rotor and automatic movement allowed for a thinner case design) and we make every effort to get our hands on them. But the chance to own one of these early, manual-winding triple register Autavias doesn't come around often, so if you're looking for something a little different (and totally awesome!), this is your Heuer.
Steel case is is approximately 42mm (excluding the crown). Heuer Reference 73663. Valjoux 7736 Manual-Winding Chronograph Movement. Circa 1970s.
Overall condition: Case is in very good condition over all, retaining factory brushing and bevels. Shows signs of light wear in keeping with its age, particularly on the bi-directional rotating click bezel. Dial is in great condition, having faded slightly over the years, showing light even patination across the luminescent plots and some darkening to the subsidiary registers. Devoid of any signs of hand drag. Hands are in excellent condition, showing light even patination to the luminous elements. Signed crown and unsigned screw case back.
Includes one 20mm black rally strap with Heuer buckle and two 20mm nylon straps by Crown & Buckle.
This watch includes an 18-month service warranty from our friends at Central Watch, dated March 2016.