Tag Heuer: Autavia, a watchmaking legend hits the road again

Tag Heuer Autavia

Autavia Heuer 02 Chrono
Case : polished steel, bidirectional rotating bezel in black aluminum
Diameter : 42mm
Movement : Manufacture Heuer 02
Functions : hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph, date
Dial : black
Caseback : sapphire crystal
Strap : chestnut brown leather strap
Water resistance : 100m

Aquaracer Camouflage 300m Arctic Camo
Case : black PVD-treated sandblasted grade 2 titanium
Diameter : 43mm

Movement : TAG Heuer, automatic Caliber 5

Functions: hours, minutes, seconds, date
Dial : opaline blue camouflage

Caseback : black PVDtreated sandblasted grade 2 titanium

Strap : blue camouflage NATO

Water resistance : 300m

The adrenaline rush, the smell of petrol and heat-drenched tarmac, screeching tires and throbbing engines… TAG Heuer has been hurtling along the motorsport track for several decades, cultivating a heritage of fine cars, a love of performance and a passion for achievement. In racing paddocks the world over and on the most famous tracks, the history of the watch brand is closely entwined with the saga of motor racing. Founding partner and Official Timekeeper of the FIA Formula E Championship, it is also Official Timekeeper of the legendary Carrera Panamericana and the Pikes Peak in the United States, the Goodwood Festival of Speed, the Automobile Club de Monaco (ACM) and the Monaco Grand Prix, the Macau Grand Prix, the Indy 500 in Indianapolis, the Patrick Dempsey Racing team and the World Touring Car Championship… There is an endless list of iconic names with which TAG Heuer has chosen to associate. At the last Monaco Grand Prix, the 75th edition of the event, TAG Heuer unveiled the new, ever-powerful and high-performance Carrera Heuer 01 43mm timepieces. The roster of ambassadors competing or having competed under its banner includes names that are enough to set the hearts of racing fans pulsing with excitement. Steve McQueen and Ayrton Senna belong to the TAG Heuer team. In tribute to the latter, who was the first to feature in the #DontCrackUnderPressure advertising campaign back in 1991, TAG Heuer has indeed just unveiled three new watches with a sporty and sophisticated look, a 45mm brushed steel Carrera Heuer-01 Chronograph and two Formula 1 models, including a chronograph with a resolutely racing-inspired spirit.

AutaviaBiverWithin such a context, it seemed entirely natural for TAG Heuer to treat its aficionados to a historical flashback with a particularly eagerly waited revival of the Autavia. A legendary chronograph that was a favorite with the most famous drivers of the 1960s, including Jochen Rindt, Mario Andretti, Jo Siffert and Clay Regazzoni, the Autavia was personally created by Jack Heuer in 1962. This chronograph, which owes its name to a contracted combination of AUTomobile and AVIAtion, had wandered completely off the watch industry radar in the 1980s, to the great regret of its many devotees. Authentically revolutionary at the time of its launch, the Autavia soon gained a following by bringing the functionality of a dashboard counter to drivers’ wrists, notably thanks to its rotating bezel. Until 2016, a community of informed collectors were alone in celebrating the memory of this chronograph, but all that is over now !

To orchestrated the big comeback of its illustrious chronograph, TAG Heuer offered passionate devotees, collectors and connoisseurs a chance to take a trip down memory lane by selecting 16 versions of the vintage Autavia. These 16 beauties were then presented in a dedicated website and internet users were invited to choose which model would serve as inspiration for the revival. No less than 50,000 votes were cast and the winner was the 1963 model named “Rindt” in reference to the Austrian racing champion Jochen Rindt who wore it.

With its narrow yet functional bezel, its applied hour-markers punctuated by luminescent dots to ensure readability, its stylized “matchstick” hands driven by the legendary manual-winding Valjoux 72 movement, the Autavia “Rindt” boasted all the assets required to be firmly in the race during the 1960s and 1970s. Modernizing its design without sacrificing its heritage nonetheless represented a sizeable challenge, to which TAG Heuer has risen with great aplomb as testified by the new Autavia 2017. The first major change relates to the size of the steel case, enlarged from 39mm to 42mm in diameter for a more contemporary effect. The second essential modification concerns the choice of the Manufacture Heuer 02 automatic chronograph caliber to replace the original manual-winding movement. With its three counters, ultra-legible date display, ratcheted bidirectional bezel in black PVD-treated aluminum and chestnut brown distressed calfskin strap, the new Autavia now water-resistant to 100 meters unites the best of both eras. A legend on the move, fully equipped to take on contemporary challenges.

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Whether it comes to jumping into the void in a wingsuit, surfing a giant wave forming off the coast, performing a spectacular series of ‘ollies’ on a skateboard in California, whooshing down dizzying snowy slopes or playing with the force of the wind, TAG Heuer dispalys a consistently fearless attitude. Working hand in hand with the “Nuit de la Glisse” team for a second season of feats, the watch brand accompanied exceptional athletes in rare and Tag Heuer Aquaracerunique situations so as to offer fans of traditional“riding, gliding and sliding” sports including skiing, skateboarding and kayaking – along with certain emerging disciplines such as foil surfing – a stunning visual journey through splendid scenery at the heart of wild natural environments. The guiding theme of this adventure is of course the #DontCrackUnderpressure spirit, exemplified by the two new interpretations of the Aquaracer Camouflage 300m. Dedicated to GI-Jo et GI-Jane, these two sports watches available in Arctic and Khaki versions are up to anything, even the most dangerous situations. Their key asset is a light and sturdy case machined in mat black PVD-treated grade 2 titanium to reinforce the stealth factor, eliminating any glinting that might catch enemy eyes. The bezel with its minutes scale (graduated in single minutes for the first 15) is in matt black ceramic, a material that is also extremely scratch-resis tant. An ideal companion in hostile territory, right the way down to 300m below sea level… as well as in the daily life of trendy urbanites.

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Brice Lechevalier is editor-in-chief of GMT and Skippers, which he co-founded in 2000 and 2001 respectively. He has also been CEO of WorldTempus since it joined the GMT Publishing stable, of which he is director and joint shareholder. In 2012 he created the Geneva Watch Tour, and he has been an advisor to the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève since 2011. Also closely involved in sailing, he has published the magazine of the Société Nautique de Genève since 2003, and was one of the founders of the SUI Sailing Awards in 2009 and the Concours d’Elégance for motor boats at the Cannes Yachting Festival in 2015.

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