The present example of the Autavia in our shop is from 2000. The watch features white oversized sub-registers that
contrast beautifully with the black dial. The most attractive characteristics of this Mark 4 dial are the steel
hands with red accents and the red chronograph hand. The hour markers are applied with tritium lume, together with
red index markings. Heuer used a modified Valjoux 724 in these 40 mm GMT watches, which were sealed with compressor
cases for better water resistance. The other highlight of these rare chronographs are the blue and red ‘Pepsi
bezel’, manufactured from a single piece of aluminum.
Autavias Over the Years
The first execution compressor model was the only early Autavia to feature a true “panda” dial design – a silver dial
with either two or three black registers. These dials are thought to have been an early test for the American market
(circa 1968), and it appears that these models never went into production. These silver-dialled versions of the two
and three register Autavias are housed in the same cases as the standard models.
The original 1962 Autavia was offered in a choice of two- or three-register models, both of them manual-winding
chronographs with black and white dials in round stainless-steel cases. By the end of its run, however, the Autavia
had been produced with a dazzling array of dials, cases, hands, movements, bezels and bracelets.
Throughout its life, there were basically two styles of Autavia – the models from 1962 to 1969 used traditional round
cases and were powered by manual-wind movements, while the models from 1969 used C-shaped cases, to house both the
new automatic movements and the manual-wind versions. In this article, we look at the models – and there were close
to 25 – offered by Heuer from 1962 to 1969.
The second generation of Autavias was introduced in 1968 and it was characterised by new lugs with square edges as
well as a larger bezel. These models were powered by the Valjoux 7730/7732 movements.
The third generation of the Autavia followed in 1969. The model was powered by the famous Calibre 11 housed in an
entirely new C-shaped case. One thing that would not change, however, was the position of the Autavia as the
chronograph of motorsport, as the Autavia would become even more popular among racers and their teams.
Based on the third generation Autavia, TAG Heuer launched a re-edition of the watch in 2003. This was the first
Autavia to display the TAG Heuer logo. The 42 mm steel case featuring a fixed bezel with tachymeter scale housed the
self-winding Calibre 11.
The Autavia – It’s All About the Bezel
Over the course of its production from 1962 to 1985, a defining feature of the Heuer Autavia was the rotating bezel.
Here, we have a look at the design and functions of this extra “tool” that added to the usefulness of the
• Minutes – Marked from 0 to 60 around the bezel, align the triangle with the minute hand at the start of an event,
and the bezel shows the elapsed time. Numerals show the count every 10 minutes.
• Hours – Marked from 1 to 12, the hour bezel can be used to count the elapsed hours or it can be pre-set so that the
hour hand will show the time in a second time zone.
• Minutes/Hours – Used on the later Autavias from 1969, this bezel is marked for both minutes and hours.
• Tachymeter – The tachymeter converts the elapsed time (in seconds) over a measured distance (one mile or one
kilometer) to the speed for that distance. Cover one mile in exactly 40 seconds, and the bezel shows the speed of
90 miles per hour.
• Decimal Minutes – Rather than indicating the seconds, the decimal minutes bezel divides the minute into 100 units,
making it easier to add and subtract different combinations.
• GMT – Heuer’s approach to the GMT indication was to mark the bezel for all 24 hours, with a separate hand making one
rotation per day. This hand may not be set independently of the watch’s main hands, but by rotating the bezel, the
user is able to select a second time zone, with the time in that location being shown by reading the GMT hand on
the GMT bezel.
• Decompression – The seemingly random numbers on the bezel indicate the “bottom time” that will be safe for the
diver, at specific depths. Align the arrow with the minute hand at the start of the dive, and when the minute hand
reaches your depth, it’s time to return to the surface.