TAG Heuer Autavia Chronometer Flyback: Celebrating The 60th Anniversary Of The Autavia With Two Nostalgically Inclined Flyback Chronographs
When people in the world of fine watches talk about chronographs, one name often comes up: TAG Heuer. Since the company was founded by Edouard Heuer in 1860, TAG Heuer has pushed the boundaries of short interval timing measurement again and again – its expertise in this field has been a leitmotif throughout its history, backed up by several patents. Today, TAG Heuer is the only Swiss watch brand that has mastered the measurement of tenths, hundredths, and thousandths of a second.
Kicking off the new watch year in style, TAG Heuer unveils a new Autavia flyback chronograph in two executions, each with its own unique appeal.
TAG Heuer Carrera, Monaco, and Autavia: champions on the racetrack
TAG Heuer’s chronographs from the 1960s – the golden age of motorsport – are among the most sought-after remakes and re-editions of our time. One example is the Carrera, first presented in 1963 and named after the toughest road race of the day: the Carrera Panamericana Mexico.
The Carrera’s purist, functional dial, designed with intuitive readability in mind by Jack Heuer, founder Edouard Heuer’s grandson and today’s honorary chairman, qualified the model as a textbook watch for races, which became the choice for many professionals. Throughout the following two decades, the drivers of the Scuderia Ferrari – including Carlos Reutemann, Jacky Ickx, Niki Lauda, and Jody Scheckter – all wore Carreras during their hazardous races.
The Monaco is the second classic chronograph and one of the rare timepieces – perhaps even the first – to gain fame on the silver screen. Worn in 1971 by Steve McQueen in Le Mans, a blockbuster film depicting the famous 24-hour endurance race, it became an instant success. Until today it has remained associated with the legendary actor nicknamed the “king of cool.”
But this is not the only reason for the Monaco’s stardom: when it was simultaneously unveiled in Geneva and New York in 1969, it was one of the very first chronographs powered by a self-winding movement. Until that moment, watchmakers had not built such a complex caliber to include a rotor for automatic winding. Back in the 1960s, the construction and production of such a movement was kind of a holy grail, and some big players, among them TAG Heuer, Breitling, Zenith and Seiko, raced against each other to be the first to introduce an automatic chronograph.
The first ones launched in the year of the moon landing were celebrated as milestone innovations. Yet, there was even another quite cool feature about the Monaco that also marked a premiere, namely its square case, which was the first water-resistant one of its kind.
TAG Heuer Autavia: 60 years and counting
Today, the Carrera and Monaco are probably the best-known TAG Heuer collections. However, there is also the Autavia, which was in fact the first racetrack chronograph by Heuer. Its name, a portmanteau of the words “automobile” and “aviation,” was first used in reference to aircraft and automotive dashboard instruments dating back to 1933.
In 1962 Jack Heuer applied the specifications for the cockpit displays – intuitive readability at every second and from every angle – to the format of a wristwatch. An enthusiastic supporter and official timekeeper of the 12 Hours of Sebring race, the chronograph pioneer knew exactly what he wanted for the Autavia: a wide, easy-to-read dial and a shock-resistant case, robust enough to endure the rough conditions of the speedway to provide precise timekeeping throughout the race.
To mark the sixtieth anniversary of the Autavia wristwatch, TAG Heuer is rolling out an automatic flyback chronograph in two executions, a textbook example how to transform historic looks into contemporary classics.
The Autavia Chronometer Flyback features a 42 mm stainless steel case with flat lugs and a slim, bidirectionally rotating black ceramic bezel with a tachymeter scale. The silver-colored dial together with the black counters creates a panda look like the one that distinguished some of the first Autavia models in the 1960s when a special edition of the watch was also produced for the German Bundeswehr pilots. Those timepieces were outfitted with a flyback complication allowing the measurement of consecutive times without having to first reset, making it a favorite for pilots and drivers.
While the dial and the bezel with their clean Arabic numerals feature an elegant yet fashionable style, the extra-large pushers and the likewise oversized crown confer bold accents.
The Autavia Chronometer Flyback is powered by in-house manufacture Caliber Heuer 02, which boasts a power reserve of 80 hours and is officially certified as a C.O.S.C. chronometer. The automatic movement is equipped with a column wheel and vertical clutch.
Flipping the stainless steel 100-meter water resistant case over, we are treated to an unobstructed view of the movement and its skeletonized black rotor, which mimics the style of a steering wheel.
In addition to the variation with the panda-look dial, there is also a version with a black DLC-coated stainless steel case and an all-black dial with luminous numerals. By using a vintage-inspired Super-LumiNova coating with a bold greenish hue on the hands and markers, this timepiece exudes a more tool watch-style charisma than the panda execution.
For more information, please visit www.tagheuer.com/us/en/timepieces/collections/tag-heuer-autavia/42-mm-calibre-heuer02-cosc-flyback.
Quick Facts TAG Heuer Autavia Chronometer Flyback
Case: 42 x 15.6 mm, stainless steel or DLC-coated stainless steel
Movement: automatic Caliber Heuer 02, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, 80-hour power reserve, officially C.O.S.C. certified as a chronometer
Functions: hours, minutes, small seconds; date, flyback chronograph
Price: $6,300 (stainless steel); $6,950 (DLC-coated stainless steel)
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To me this seems generic. Nothing special at all. Perhaps they invented the design, but if they did, you wouldn’t know it.
I have an irrational soft spot for Tag – I own one – but they really need to “up their game” in my opinion.
I enjoyed your article, however your comment below is somewhat misleading.
“Today, TAG Heuer is the only Swiss watch brand that has mastered the measurement of tenths, hundredths, and thousandths of a second.”
This seems to indicate that other Swiss watch brands, like Zenith or Omega for example, haven’t made remarkable in-house advances in measuring time in hundredths or thousandths of a second.
In the case of Zenith (who developed the world’s first high-frequency automatic chronograph), the El Primero 9004 calibre is an in-house chronograph movement that is Chronometer certified and beats at 50 hertz, which is capable of measuring hundredths of a second. All this is achieved without sacrificing power reserved for regular timekeeping, which has separate gear train that operates at 5 hertz.
Omega timing has introduced continual innovation in timing by pushing the envelope further and further for sports timing. For example, the MYRIA camera system used for Olympic track events is a time detector and chronograph that can measure to the 10,000th of a second (it also takes a picture for each 10,000th).
There are also several other Swiss watch manufacturers who offer high frequency (10 hertz or greater) chronograph movements in wristwatches.
Suffice to say that comment is not based in objective fact, and the word “only” is entirely incorrect. Perhaps reworded as an opinion or removing the “the only” in favor of “one of the few” would help make the article more factually correct.