Spotted: A Heuer Autavia Ref. 1163v
We've all had that pang of envy whenever you look over at someone's wrist and see a watch that you like. It's only natural. Perhap it's just the slightly newer version of your piece or maybe it's a watch you've never seen before and the mystery of something unknown appeals to you. When I was heading through security at Heathrow last June I saw the man next to me take off his A.Lange und Sohne Lange 1 and place it in the bucket along with his coat. All I wanted to do was just tap him on the shoulder and say that I loved his watch. All I did was gawk awkwardly at it as he walked away through departures (With the watch, obviously).
The wonders of the internet have now spread what used to be a very sporadic feeling of envy right into our homes and desktops. Not that this feeling is necessarily a bad one. I'd much rather have that Oh I wish I could have that feeling whilst looking at a strangers watch rather than never seeing it at all. Better to have loved and lost than to never loved at all? A few days ago I saw this gallery of a stunning 70s Heuer and felt the need to share it with everyone. What really struck me was not just the beautiful watch but also the collection of Heuer paraphernalia including original boxes, warranty cards and most importantly Heuer Drive Timers as well (Fitted in period appropriate car of course). Whilst I must say I've never been a fan of the racing strap, it certainly fits with this piece. The calibre 12 is a gorgeous mixture of gold and silver parts with a micro-rotor hidden deep inside.
This reference is the Heuer Autavia Ref.1163v and is the fourth edition of the Autavia Line. The V in the reference is in relation to Viceroy cigarettes and a marketing promotion that Heuer and tobacco company Brown & Williamson ran during 1972. Now I'm not going to go into much detail here as you can find a brilliantly written in-depth article over at Hodinkee about the watch but a short summary shouldn't go amiss. In 1971 both Heuer and Brown & WIlliamson were underperforming with Heuer selling only 500 chronographs that year and B&W struggling to sell their Viceroy range of cigarettes as they were seen as feminine. As Heuer was very well known for producing high quality stop watches and timers for motorsport, B&W decided that a promotion linking their cigarettes with the masculine Heuer/motorsport community would increase sales.
A promotion ran in a number of special interest and men's magazines such as Sports Illustrated, Playboy, Penthouse and Popular Mechanics which advertised that a brand new Heuer Autavia could be purchased for a discount price of $88 upon receipt of the top flap of a viceroy cigarette carton (10 packs). Seeing as the regular price of an Autavia was $200 it was an offer too good to miss and Heuer ended up with record sales of chronographs with almost a years worth of sales every month of the incentive for 1972.
Whilst the Autavia line no longer exists within TAG Heuer apart from a short revitalisation back in 2003, there are still remnants within the current collection. The most recent re-design of the Formula 1 left some distinct impressions of the Autavia line with it's barrel shaped case and sloped lugs. With these inspirations only just released last year and a less than successful re-issue just barely a decade behind us I doubt we'll be seeing a re-re-issue of the classic Autavia anytime soon. We'll just have to appreciate the vintage pieces we see a little bit more then!
Many thanks to Reddit user Vinylspin for permission to use his photographs, you can find his original post here. For all much more detail about the Autavia or any Heuer model then head over to OnTheDash.