A legendary beloved driver’s panda chronograph from the 60s is making a comeback and we’re not talking about a Paul Newman Daytona. This Baselworld 2017 sees the return of the TAG Heuer Autavia. Named for Automobile and Aviation, the Heuer Autavia and its signature high legibility black and white (nicknamed panda) tri-compax chronograph layout with snailed subdials was highly sought after. Launched in 1962, the Heuer Autavia celebrates its 55th birth day with an updated re-issue.
Baselworld 2017 TAG Heuer Autavia: More than a Re-Issue
During a competition to see which specific model within the Autavia family would see a revived model, more than 50,000 votes where received for the highly popular 3-register (or tri-compax) reverse Panda model, a reissue of the Autavia Ref. 2446 “Rindt” worn by the famous F1 driver Jochen Rindt. The original Heuer Autavia with Mark Three dial designed in 1966 beat out another popular tri-compax ref. 2446 and two register ref. 3646 models.
The Baselworld 2017 TAG Heuer Autavia enjoys 42mm contemporary proportions over the original reference which measured 39mm. Proportionally, the new TAG Heuer Autavia is also thicker even if aesthetically, it is very faithful to the original save for the addition of a date complication, a lamentable albeit understandable commercial decision.
In terms of design, the classic reverse panda dial is period authentic – everything from the heritage Heuer Autavia markings at 12 to the white snailed 30-minute, 12-hour and seconds sub-registers on a dark black dial is reminiscent of the original; collectors will be highly appreciative of the date window being incorporated into the running seconds at 6 – it’s noticeable if you know where to look but barely there if you take a glance at the wrist. Kudos to Biver and the TAG team (no pun intended).
Driving the Baselworld 2017 TAG Heuer Autavia is the proprietary Calibre Heuer 02 automatic chronograph, purists might have been hoping for a manual winding movement similar to the original Valjoux 72 but again understandably, self-winding watches are just more commercially viable than period authentic mechanical movements. The new Heuer-02 chronograph calibre with column wheel and vertical clutch has a power reserve of 80 hours and decorated with traditional finishes visible through the sapphire case-back.
Fans of the original Autavia would appreciate this neo-retro re-issue thanks to the deference paid by TAG Heuer to its motor racing heritage, signature features and iconic character. Optimal proportions, typography, counter finishes, legibility and the 12 hour rotating bezel are all period reminiscent; right down to choice of wristlet: a distressed brown calfskin leather strap with ecru stitching or a Sixties-inspired 7-row steel “beads of rice” bracelet.
The new 2017 TAG Heuer Autavia is offered on default leather strap and will retail for €4,600 with an additional premium for the steel bracelet.