The news hit the world of watches with enthusiasm and excitement: The Heuer Autavia (Yes, like other Heritage models of the Carrera, Silverstone and Monaco line, it only says Heuer instead of TAG Heuer on the dial), regarded next to the Carrera and Monaco as the third cornerstone that defines the Vintage legacy of TAG Heuer, will be relaunched in 2017. For market observers this did not come as that big of surprise: Retro is a trend we have already seen in the past years at Baselworld, with the Omega Speedmaster Racing, to name a few examples. At the first presentation of the Autavia prototype, we got the rare opportunity of getting a closer look on the new Heuer Autavia prototyp, which in terms of its design, will not have any significant changes until its official presentation at Baselworld 2017.
How did it come to the Heuer Autavia first prototype?
Prior to building the Autavia prototype, there was an online poll published regarding how the new Autavia should look like. Over 50,000 watch enthusiasts gave their vote on a website which Tag Heuer introduced for several weeks. The choices were abundant, however it was the black dial „Rindt“ version that made the final cut. While I, personally voted for the white dial with two totalisers, the black dial version with three totalisers also has its charm.
I was lucky enough to be invited to the Heuer Collector Summit, where the new Heuer Autavia prototype was first presented to only 30 Heuer collectors, experts and enthusiasts from around the world. The prototype at this point did not yet have the automatic movement inside (merely a movement inside without a rotor), and some details about the design might be changed. Slight alterations to the indices and hand lume colours can be expected to ensure they match one another. Case size, thickness and bezel style will most likely not experience any adjustment any more until Baselworld next year.
The last information I received about the new Heuer Autavia prototype was that in all social media across platforms over one million likes were given to the watch within just 2 days. That is quite impressive and as I would interpret it shows how much people crave a watch that looks cool, pleasing to the eye, and comfortable on the wrist.
The date indication of the Autavia
One of the most controversial things on the new Autavia has proven to be the date indication, according to social media. Now, the people expressing dislike are most likely not the ones who have seen the model live. However, coming from someone, who usually prefers watches without a date indication, I can assure that the date is so small compared to the watch, and it barely is visible and it gives the watch what I would call a modern feel, or as Mister Biver pointed out: This watch is not made for you (meaning vintage Heuer collectors), it is made for the consumer, someone who likes to afford a nice watch.
The case size of the Autavia
Second, people complained about the large size and height of the watch: I have to admit I’m astonished by this criticism. Wasn't it thousands of people who bought the Omega Speedmaster with 44mm sized cases, and just as many probably buying 47mm Panerais? And now a 42mm watch is too big, and 15mm too high? Well, these are just numbers, yet putting the watch on your wrist is a whole different story. And I believe that this watch will be a huge success, already several participants at the event said to me that they will buy this watch, which gives me a different view on Mister Biver’s aforementioned statement (yes, Mister Biver, I think that is what you liked to achieve by saying that we are not the buyers.... ;) ).
My take on the social media reactions.
Many times when a new product hits the market, people are initially sceptical. That is natural behaviour. Baselworld orders and time will show if scepticism is justified on this timepiece. Taste and opinions vary and, most of the time, change over time, but for everybody who was disappointed by the new Autavia look I found at least two outspoken enthusiasts.
The Autavia will still go through corrections before its final release, and on another hand, it is good that everybody has their own taste and that we do not have all the same taste. Imagine we did? As most things in life are scarce, that would cause nothing good.
One thing I definitely know is that you can never judge a book by the cover, nor can you judge a watch by a photo. Put the watch on your wrist, take it in your hands, and you will see what I mean. Some people may catch fire when they strap the watch around their wrist, and others may not. I would dare to make the claim that some people, however, if they hold it in their hands would like it more than they like it on pictures. That happens a lot from my experience.
Weighing in on the new Heuer Autavia
Personally, I liked the overall look. Even though I am generally more partial to clean and simple dials, this date does not bother me. While many people were wondering about the proportions of the bezel, I definitely liked its width. The watch weighs, and has a good size and once the full movement is inside it will weigh quite a bit on the wrist. At a time when people wear 48mm Panerais and Hublots, this is still not a big nor heavy watch. I would like to see this Autavia on a steel bracelet, too. One thing TAG Heuer did right on the watch: the dial only reads HEUER. A great reminiscence of vintage Heuer models, in this case the Autavia 2446, that we also know from other models of the brand’s current collection.
If there is something I would want to change on this watch, it would be the case design. I hope the lugs and case will be sharper and more pronounced. Similar to what the old cases of the reference 2446 looked like. Let's see what will happen…
Basic data on the Autavia
Basic data on the Autavia
Height: just over 15mm
Black dial with chronograph function and three totalisors
Automatic movement CH81
Not sure if watch will come on leather only or on bracelet or both.
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