Watch: a (very) short film on the Heuer Autavia
A visual journey through the history of Heuer's flagship model
The name Autavia comes from a contraction between the words Automotive and Aviation, and was originally coined by the brand in 1933, when Heuer began producing a dashboard clock that could be used for the instrument panels of both cars and aircrafts. It was a 12-hour chronograph with two sub-dials for elapsed hours and minutes, and a larger dial at the centre to display seconds.
In 1958, Jack Heuer* realized that the clock was actually from far ideal in terms of legibility and practicability and unfortunately for him he had to find out the hard way. During a rally race, Heuer's team came third because the driver had misread the Autavia's dial by one minute. So Mr Heuer had to sit down and completely rethink the clock, which eventually led to the creation of the Heuer chronograph in 1961.
It was fitted with a rotating bezel with 60 separate markers to make sure to driver could easily read the time and elapsed time while driving. It also employed a new kind of carbon-composite hairspring technology, called an Isograph. It was more or less downhill after that because the Autavia became an even bigger success. In the following years, Heuer began introducing new versions of the Autavia, including a 'panda' dial version with two or three sub-dials.
In 2017, TAG-Heuer** unveiled a re-edition of the Autavia at the 2017 Baselworld. It came in with a 42 mm stainless steel case, with a reverse panda dial***, and it was powered by an in-house Heuer 02 automatic movement.
TAG-Heuer is my favourite watch brand, by a considerable margin I would say, and even though the Autavia isn't my favourite piece (because the Monaco is), I think it's wonderful and the history behind it is fascinating. So what I thought I'd do is share the edited version of a short film that TAG-Heuer released about a year ago. I hope you enjoy it.
*great-grandson of Edouard Heuer, founder of the brand, and the 'father' of the Carrera
**in 1985, TAG (Techniques d'Avant Garde), a private company that specializes in aviation and motorsport products and services, acquired Heuer. Since 1985, the vast majority of the brand's wristwatches have been marketed and sold as TAG-Heuer, with the exception of a couple of heritage pieces including in fact the 2017 Autavia
***in the watch world, a 'panda' dial refers to a white dial with three black sub-dials, thus resembling the face of a panda with two black eyes and black nose. The 'reverse panda' dial is the opposite, a black dial with three white sub-dials