TAG Heuer AUTAVIA
The TAG Heuer Autavia was the subject of a design competition in Spring 2016 when TAG Heuer launched the ‘Autavia Cup’ inviting the public to choose their favourite historic Autavia model and, in so doing, provide the inspiration for a modern-day Autavia. This timepiece is the distilled outcome of that selection process.
This detailed review of the TAG Heuer AUTAVIA includes live images, specification details and pricing.
Last year, TAG Heuer invited the general public to select a design from 16 first generation 1960s Autavias. The campaign, entitled the ‘Autavia Cup’, attracted over 50,000 votes over a two round competition, leading to four finalists and one overall winner, the Autavia Ref. 2446 Mark 3 which was designed in 1966. The democratic design process did not stop there but led to the TAG Heuer design department tweaking the final aesthetic. This led to the creation of this gorgeous ‘neo-retro’ model.
The modern-day Autavia has grown in size, measuring 42mm in diameter, 3mm more than its predecessor. Modernity has been embraced with the inclusion of the new Heuer-02 calibre column-wheel chronograph movement, date display and sapphire case back.
Such is the profound beauty of this watch, I found it difficult to resist its charms and recently got ‘hands-on’ with its retro-inspired form.
The hour and minute hands are silver hued, rhodium plated and lined with beige, ‘vintage’ style SuperLuminova. They offer peerless lucidity with a delightful quotient of nostalgia. Hours are denoted with applied indexes which blend both polished and satin-finished surfaces. Again, SuperLuminova features, this time on the indexes and the minute track.
A tri-compax dial layout features a 30-minute chronograph register at 3 o’clock, a small running seconds at 6 o’clock and a 12-hour chronograph register at 9 o’clock. Each subdial imparts information with a notable crispness with matchless sharpness to each numeral and black stroke.
In deference to modern tastes, a date display features at 6 o’clock. Personally, I would have preferred the date to have been omitted, allowing the period styling of the dial to be upheld in its entirety. Nevertheless, I concede that this is a small criticism in what is a drop-dead gorgeous watch face.
Below noon, the period style ‘Heuer’ and “Autavia’ names are delighfully presented. The monochrome palette of colours reinforces the retro vibe of the design.
The dial is both eminently handsome and logical to use, indeed, chronograph dials don’t get much better than this.
Change is something some laggards, myself included, find difficult to embrace. Nevertheless, the idea to increase the diameter of the 39mm original to 42mm was, in my opinion, a prudent decision, as it should appeal to a large cross-section of the watch-buying public.
Highly polished surfaces are ubiquitously presented with the graceful horns, avec 2 facets, gloriously glinting in ambient light. This is a handsome watch case, augmenting the beauty of the aforementioned dial.
The black aluminium bezel is marked with hour graduations and rotates in both directions. Turning the bezel rewards the wearer with a positive action and a sublime tactile experience.
The ‘mushroom push-buttons’ are glorious and augment the vintage feel of the timepiece. TAG Heuer has clearly expended much effort refining every element to smile-inducing effect.
Modern-day wants have been sated with the inclusion of sapphire crystal panes both front and rear, allowing the wearer to view the self-winding movement within.
The Heuer 02 Manufacture movement is a peach of a movement. It features a column-wheel with vertical coupling. Pressing the pushpiece at 4 o’clock sees the central chronograph seconds hand return to noon with a refreshing absence of wobble.
The oscillating mass is open-worked and looks very contemporary in appearance. The bridges beneath are adorned with Côtes de Genève motif, while the column-wheel is depicted in a vibrant shade of red. This looks like a modern movement and offers the convenience this infers, courtesy of its self-winding credentials.
There may be some readers who lament the omission of a hand-wound movement, such as the original Valjoux 72. Indeed, I concede there is a small part of me that would have loved to have seen this movement as well, however, the automatic movement does proffer convenience.
The Heuer 02 features a balance oscillating to a frequency of 28,800 VpH (4Hz). The movement contains 168 components, including 33 jewels, and is capable of operating autonomously for 80 hours.
The TAG Heuer AUTAVIA is a delightful watch, blessed with bewitching looks. There could have been a danger that design by committee could have led to a clumsily contrived aesthetic. However, the design of this watch is beautiful.
The secret of its success is that all 16 designs offered to the public for consideration in the ‘Autavia Cup’ were already aesthetic gems. Indeed, it would have been impossible to have selected an ugly watch. Moreover, each option has retained its eye-appeal despite the onset of years. This is the secret of this watch, great design never goes out of fashion.
Beyond the bountiful beauty of the TAG Heuer AUTAVIA, there is much mechanical merit in the form of the Heuer 02 movement. Moreover, in a watch costing a modest £3,900, the specification of this movement, with its column-wheel, manufacture status and 80 hours power reserve makes it a highly attractive proposition.
Lastly, I have to make mention once more of the highly legible dial, tri-compax layout, 12-hours bezel, mushroom pushers and vintage brown calfskin strap. Everything conspires to seduce. This is a magnificent watch and, to date, one of the highlights of 2017.
- Model: TAG Heuer AUTAVIA
- Ref: CBE2110.FC8226
- Case: Stainless steel; diameter 42mm; water resistant to 10 bar (100 metres); sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
- Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; date; chronograph.
- Movement: Calibre Heuer 02, self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 vph (4Hz), 33 jewels; power reserve 80 hours
- Strap: Vintage brown calfskin leather with ecru-stitching and polished pin buckle with Heuer logo
- Price £3,900.00 (RRP as at 3.4.2017)