TAG Heuer Autavia: A Cult Chronograph
The TAG Heuer Autavia is a true classic. Jack Heuer personally designed this sporty racing chronograph in the early 1960s. This legendary watch celebrated a comeback in 2017 with the in-house caliber Heuer 02 and has been delighting fans ever since.
5 Reasons to Buy a TAG Heuer Autavia
- Classic and timeless chronographs with a cult following
- Since 2017: with the in-house caliber Heuer 02 with an 80-hour power reserve
- A functional 12-hour bezel with a GMT function
- With a leather strap or stainless steel bracelet
- High quality at a fair price
From the Dashboard to Your Wrist
The Autavia name is a portmanteau of AUTomobile and AVIAtion. This chronograph first appeared as a dashboard instrument in race cars and aircraft back in the early 1930s. At the start of the 1960s, Jack Heuer reimagined the Autavia as a wristwatch. This sporty chronograph quickly became a favorite among Formula 1 drivers.
How much does the TAG Heuer Autavia cost?
|Model||Price (approx.)||Production period|
|CBE2110 "Rindt"||3,900 USD||Since 2017|
|CBE2111 "Jack Heuer"||4,700 USD||Since 2017|
|WBE5110 Isograph||3,600 USD||Since 2019|
|CY 2111 "Jo Siffert"||3,000 USD||Starting in 2003|
|3646 "Mario Andretti"||21,000 USD||Starting in 1966|
|1163 "Jo Siffert"||5,300 USD||Starting in 1969|
Prices for the TAG Heuer Autavia Calibre 02
The polished stainless steel case of the reference CBE2110 is 42 mm in diameter and water resistant to 100 m (10 bar, 328 ft). Like its predecessor, its bidirectional bezel is made of aluminum. Its 12-hour scale allows you to tell the time in a second time zone via the hour hand. This feature is also known as a GMT function. The dial has a reverse panda design, meaning a black background with three white subdials. These subdials serve as the minute counter, hour counter, and small seconds dial.
Every model features a small date display inside the small seconds dial at 6 o'clock and sapphire glass with an anti-reflective coating on both sides. In keeping with the retro aesthetic, each of the rhodium-plated indices is tipped with luminous material. A sapphire glass case back offers a view of the caliber Heuer 02 at work. The CBE2110 is available on a contemporary stainless steel bracelet or a brown camel leather strap.
The Autavia Calibre 02, ref. CEB2210, is the perfect choice for fans of state-of-the-art technology and water resistance mixed with classic design. Prices for this modern alternative to early models from the 1960s start around 3,900 USD.
The reference CBE2118 "Viceroy" takes after the Jo Siffert ref. 1163V from 1972. This new model first appeared a few months after the release of the Calibre 02 and is mainly produced for the American market. Its dial features two subdials: a minute counter at 3 and an hour counter at 6 o'clock. One important difference between the two models is the color of the hour, minute, and chronograph second hands as well as that of the luminous material: They are blue on the 1163V and red on the CBE2118. You can purchase the "Viceroy" on a black leather strap with white stitching for around 4,500 USD.
How much do limited editions cost?
Exclusive limited editions include the reference number CBE2111. TAG Heuer created this timepiece in honor of Jack Heuer's 85th birthday. Fittingly, it's limited to a run of 1,932 pieces – Jack Heuer's birth year. As is so often the case, Jack Heuer was directly involved in the designing of this model. While it's technologically identical to the CBE2110, its dial is silver with three black subdials. The aluminum bezel inlay has a 60-minute scale. Instead of a sapphire glass case back, this model features a screw-down steel case back. The Jack Heuer Limited Edition is only available on a stainless steel bracelet and costs about 4,700 USD.
Two other limited editions appeared in 2018: The "Tropical Panda" ref. CEB2213 and a new edition of the "Jo Siffert" CBE2114. Only 150 copies exist of the former, which changes hands for roughly 8,300 USD. The Jo Siffert model is limited to a run of 100 pieces and sells for around 6,400 USD.
The Return of the Autavia 2446 "Jochen Rindt"
The debut of the Autavia Calibre 02 ref. CBE2110 in 2017 marked the return of a legendary chronograph. Development of the new model had unconventional beginnings, at least by industry standards. In spring 2016, TAG Heuer hosted the so-called "Autavia Cup," allowing its community to vote for their favorite from among 16 options for the new release. Of those, 12 were based on collections from the 1960s, while the other four were the creations of TAG Heuer's designers.
Over 50,000 people ended up taking part in the campaign. After a week of voting, Jean-Claude Biver – then-CEO of TAG Heuer – personally chose the winner: the Autavia 2446 "Jochen Rindt" from 1966. TAG Heuer presented the new version of this timepiece as the Heuer Autavia Calibre 02 at Baselworld 2017. This modern timepiece measures in at between 38 and 42 mm in diameter. Watch fans and the trade press alike were delighted by this reimagined watch with an in-house caliber.
The In-House Caliber Heuer 02
TAG Heuer produces this new movement entirely in-house at its facilities in the Swiss town of Chevenez. This automatic column-wheel chronograph caliber is composed of 233 components and boasts an 80-hour power reserve.
One special feature of the Heuer 02 is its vertical clutch, a feature that's beginning to appear in ever more calibers. Compared to horizontal clutches, this system causes less friction between gears. As a result, the chronograph second hand runs more smoothly in calibers with a vertical clutch.
TAG Heuer Isograph: The Autavia with Three Hands
The Isograph first saw the light of day at Baselworld 2019. TAG Heuer created this model as a three-hand alternative to the Autavia chronograph models. Its 42-mm case has both polished and satin-brushed finishes, and the dial comes in a number of different colors.
Like the chronograph, the Isograph is water resistant to 100 m (10 bar, 328 ft), making it suitable for a dip in the pool. Its bidirectional ceramic bezel has a 60-minute scale. The rhodium-plated hands and Arabic numerals glow white in the dark. There's also a date display at 6 o'clock. Sapphire glass protects the dial. The Isograph is available on different leather and NATO straps, as well as on a stainless steel bracelet.This stainless steel edition on a brown leather strap has a list price of 3,500 USD.
The Isograph with the Calibre 5 and a Carbon Hairspring
The automatic Calibre 5 powers the Isograph. This movement is based on the proven Sellita caliber SW200. TAG Heuer equips the base caliber with their own carbon hairspring , which is more robust and has a longer service life than springs made of Nivarox or silicon. The Calibre 5 features a 38-hour power reserve, a quick-set date, and a stop-seconds mechanism.
Famous Autavia Wearers: Mario Andretti and Steve McQueen
Today, the most coveted models are vintage timepieces that were popular among Formula 1 drivers in the 1960s and 70s. In addition to other famous Heuer classics like the Monaco, Carrera, and Monza, the Autavia was quick to establish itself at the world's most famous racetracks.
Some of the most famous Autavia wearers from that era include Mario Andretti (ref. 3646), Jochen Rindt (ref. 2446), and Jo Siffert (ref. 1163T). People often refer to these references by the name of their wearer to this day. One of the most famous actors of his day and himself a motorsport enthusiast, Steve McQueen also wore the Autavia "Jo Siffert 1163T."
Depending on the model, these watches sell for hefty prices both on the pre-owned market and at auction. Versions with the manual Valjoux caliber 92 with two subdials or the Valjoux 72 with three subdials are particularly popular. The Valjoux 724 ticks away inside the rare and coveted Autavia GMT with the reference number 2446. This movement is a modified Valjoux 72 with a GMT function.
How much do vintage Heuer Autavias cost?
Prices for vintage Autavias depend largely on the watch's age and condition. These timepieces are currently growing in popularity and can demand astronomical prices. The average price for a well-maintained 2446 "Jochen Rindt" comes in at around 15,500 USD. However, much higher prices are not unheard of for mint-condition pieces, especially when availability is low.
The 3646 "Mario Andretti" occupies the next-highest price category, with an average price of about 21,000 USD. This model's price range tops out at 28,000 USD. At roughly 5,300 USD, the 1163 "Jo Siffert" is downright thrifty compared to the other vintage models. The most expensive Autavia of all time is a first generation ref. 2446 with "full-lume" hands. It sold at auction for almost 225,000 USD.
The History of the Autavia Wristwatch
The Autavia was originally developed to solve a very particular problem: During a race in 1958, Jack Heuer misread his dashboard stopwatch near the end of the race. This was because he couldn't get a proper look at the dial in all the commotion. As a result, he crossed the finish line too late and ended up finishing third. His solution was to create a wristwatch modeled after the dashboard chronograph but with better readability. This Autavia wristwatch with the reference 2446 premiered in 1962.
In the decades that followed, this chronograph would experience once success after another. Famous race car drivers and actors couldn't get enough of this functional timepiece. Following the quartz crisis and Techniques d’Avant Garde's (TAG) acquisition of the Heuer brand, this once beloved chronograph was put on ice in the mid-1980s.
A reimagined version of the "Jo Siffert 1163T" wouldn't make its way into the TAG Heuer catalog until 2003 in the form of the reference CY2111. The most notable detail of this model is the position of its chronograph push-pieces and crown on the left-hand side, a feature it shares with the Monaco 1133B and Autavia 1163 Calibre 11, both from 1969.
TAG Heuer launched the Isograph (ref. WBE5110), the first three-hand Autavia, in 2019. This timepiece is available with a number of dial colors and bands.