Perhaps out of the Heuer line, most would quickly associate motorsports racing with the iconic Carrera, created back in 1963. But beyond the Carrera, there is the Autavia, which is credited for being the reason why the Tag Heuer name is synonymous to motor racing. The Autavia draws its roots in automobile and aviation and it won’t be a hard guess as to how the name was formed (automobile-aviation). But unlike the Carrera, the Autavia didn’t start out as a wristwatch, instead, it was originally a dashboard clock built for rally cars. In Jack Heuer’s autobiography, he tells the interesting origins of the Autavia.

Back in 1958, Jack Heuer participated in a Swiss car rally, where his team missed first place (they came in third) because he misread the Autavia 12-hour dashboard stopwatch by a minute. Realizing that it was confusing to read correctly—especially in a speeding rally car­—Heuer took the stopwatch back to the factory and created a new one with a large central minute hand, calling it “Autorallye”. But as the original Autavia had a 12-hour register, so they had to develop a new version of the 7700 stopwatch movement which would allow a 12-hour stopwatch to show elapsed hours through a window. This new stopwatch was called the Monte Carlo in honor of the famous rally and the model has since been established in the world of rally racing.

Now, the name Autavia was waiting to be filled in and in 1961, a new Autavia in the form of a wrist chronograph was born. Jack Heuer created a new design with a rotating bezel, which the brand has never done before on a wrist chronograph. Its bezel offered functional features like 60 separate one-minute markers, a 12-hour scale, and divisions of 1/100th of a minute for accurate and flexible timekeeping.

This innovative timepiece captured the energy and excitement of rally racing and was legible in any conditions. Popular among motoring enthusiasts and armed forces around the world, the Autavia enjoyed great success and a sterling reputation until production ceased in 1985. At Baselworld in 2019 and 2017, the Autavia was reintroduced as its own collection with seven references designed with the adventurous and daring spirit the Autavia has always been linked to.

The Autavia Calibre 5 family

Earlier this year, TAG Heuer introduced the Autavia as a new stand-alone collection that boasts the versatility, ruggedness, and reliability that characterized the original Autavia from 1960.

The collection features two models in set in bronze. Powered by the COSC-certified automatic-winding Calibre 5, the 42 mm watch features a fumé green or brown dial with a bidirectional rotating ceramic bezel in black or brown, respectively. The brown model is presented on a brown leather strap, while the green model features a khaki-coloured leather strap. A tyre and propeller have been etched into the titanium caseback as a nod to the collection’s rich heritage and the Autavia’s origin: automobile and aviation.

For fans of bronze cases, TAG Heuer sells the idea of a unique case patina for each wearer as bronze patinates easily and will thus reflect the wearer’s lifestyle and habits over time. The brushed finish of the case ensures that the patina develops evenly. When exposed to elements such as water and air or changes in temperature, the bronze surface will undergo a process of oxidation. Starting with a red-brown colour and then turning a blue or greenish colour, this colorisation effect on the metal is completely natural, and the hue depends on the type of bronze and the elements it has been exposed to. Every oxidation pattern is unique, and the wearer is able to make the watch truly their own.

Bronze Patina on a Carl Brashear Oris Watch | Image Credit: Justin Mastine-Frost and WatchTime.com

Its extra-large crown takes inspiration from pilot’s watches and timers that featured oversized crowns to make them easier to use while wearing gloves. The original Autavia was known for being highly legible in any conditions, and this is also the case with the bronze versions. The indices are in large Arabic numerals and a date window is situated at 6 o’clock. Additionally, the hour markers and hour, minute and seconds hands are coated in SuperLuminova.