The wait is over. The most highly anticipated TAG Heuer model in recent years is finally here, with the return of the Autavia. From the time that The “Autavia Cup” project was announced at Baselworld 2016, the Autavia has had a highly public development period, with a public vote informing the selection of the final design (the project received a total of 55,000 votes!) and then the unveiling of the first prototype late last year to collectors.
We’ve even had several interviews with TAG Heuer CEO where he has explained in detail the thinking behind the watch and why the decision was made not to simply copy the historic model. In short, there has been no shortage of build-up to the relaunch of one of TAG Heuer’s most famous historic models.
Not familiar with the history of the TAG Heuer Autavia Heuer 02? You can read all about the background of both the vintage and modern Autavia But all the analysis and speculation can now be put to rest, because we now have all the details of the changes made for the final production model, which differs only in a few small details to the prototype shown last year.
The Autavia features a 42mm stainless steel case with a thickness of 15.6mm. Let’s stop at this point to consider these dimensions, because the larger size of the 2017 Autavia relative to its historic inspiration has been one of the most hotly debated aspects. By way of comparison, the Carrera 1887 with a 41mm case has a thickness of 15.78mm, while the 43mm Carrera Calibre 36 hits the tape at 14.93mm. What this tells us is that while the new Autavia certainly has a thicker case than the historic model (partly because of the switch from a manual-wind movement to a thicker automatic movement), it is in line with modern TAG Heuer Autavia Heuer 02. Would we prefer the new watch if it was say 40mm with a slimmer case? Yes. Would we pass on the Autavia because of its larger dimensions? No.
The dial itself is a flat black with printed Heuer logo, complemented by three white registers with circular “azurage” finishing. The curved & polished indexes are hand-applied (double index at “12”) and house the lume markers. The lume is what TAG Heuer calls “Orange Superluminova” and is the same as used on the 2016 Monza. The coloured lume gives an “aged” look to the dial, right on point with current trends.
TAG Heuer Autavia Heuer 02 has kept the dial clean, with the date window integrated into the 6 o’clock sub-dial and the “Swiss” label tucked in under the lume mark at 6 o’clock. Sitting proudly above the date window is the text “Heuer-02”, the final name for the new in-house movement powering the Autavia.
The bi-directional rotating steel bezel has a black aluminium insert, the width of which has also been a topic of debate. This sense of size is not just because of the bezel’s width, but also down to the large silver numerals on the hours bezel. We feel the same way about the bezel as the larger case size: better if smaller, but it still works
The final element to give the watch a vintage feel is the domed sapphire crystal, which sits proud of the bezel as you can see below.
The new Autavia initially comes in a single flavour with a choice of either a steel bracelet or the camel/ tan strap shown here. The strap has an aged/ vintage look, with a “distressed” finish and white stitching. Securing the strap is a pin buckle, the first time that TAG Heuer has offered a pin buckle on a steel model for around 20 years.
There is no doubt that the vintage look strap is right on the mark fashion wise, so it’s more likely that we’re simply behind the curve in that we’d rather see a rally style black leather deployant strap- still, that’s an easy change to make.
The screw-in case back has a clear sapphire window showing the Heuer-02 movement. Interestingly, there is no mention of TAG Heuer Autavia Heuer 02 on the watch and to add to that vintage feel, the water-proof rating is expressed only in feet (330). The second option is the 7-row polished steel bracelet. And if we’re luke-warm on the strap, then we’re red hot on the bracelet. The design is an update on the wonderful Gay Frères “Grains of Rice” bracelet that was an option with the 1960s Autavias. The design has been perfectly recreated and is a wonderful fit with the watch.