Two years ago at Baselworld, TAG Heuer’s biggest news was the long-awaited and widely well-received relaunch of one of its most beloved watches from yesteryear, the Autavia, after a hiatus from the market of more than 30 years. This year, the brand expands the contemporary Autavia family, which had thus far consisted solely of chronographs, into a full-fledged collection to takes its place alongside TAG Heuer’s other pillars like the Carrera, Monaco, and Link. Here is an introduction to the seven new references, all three-handed timekeepers with dates, which usher new colorways and case materials into the series and feature a new technological breakthrough in their movements.
The vintage watch upon which the new models are based (which takes its name “Autavia” from a portmanteau of “automobile” and “aviation”), itself based on an early 20th century dashboard timer, was designed by none other than Jack Heuer, scion of the watch manufacturer’s founding family and also the driving force (pun intended) behind other 1960s icons like the Carrera. The rounded case, measuring 42 mm in diameter, incorporates the beveled lugs of the original models from the 1960s, as well as the extra-large winding crown, an element inspired by historical pilots’ watches that enabled glove-wearing flyboys to use it more easily. The bidirectional 60-minute bezel, also a feature of the vintage models, is made of either blue or black ceramic or stainless steel depending on the model. The hour, minute and seconds hands are coated in Super-LumiNova for nighttime legibility and the date appears discreetly in a window at 6 o’clock.
Five of the models have stainless steel cases, two with blue dials and bezels; two with black dials and bezels, and one with a gray dial and steel bezel. The blue-combo and black-combo models are available on dark brown or light brown leather straps or steel bracelets with accompanying NATO straps, while the gray-dial model is offered on a brown leather strap. As per watch-world trends of the past few years, TAG Heuer has built the watches so that all of these straps and bracelets are easily interchangeable, without the use of tools, by means of two push-buttons on the underside of the cases, whose casebacks are engraved with renderings of a tire and a propeller, a visual nod the the watch’s design heritage.
Also in synch with a growing trend, the remaining two new Autavia models feature cases made of bronze. Measuring 42 mm in diameter like their steel brethren, the bronze models, whose casebacks are made of titanium, are available with either a smoked green or brown dial, with rotating bezels in either black or brown ceramic, respectively.
What’s perhaps most notable about the new Autavia timepieces is their use of a newly developed carbon-composite hairspring in their movement, the COSC chronometer-certified Caliber 5. An innovative in-house creation of TAG Heuer’s development team in La Chaux-de-Fonds, which made its debut in January inside the Heuer 02T Tourbillon Nanograph, this hairspring is engineered to be lightweight, low-density, completely antimagnetic, and virtually impervious to both gravity and shocks. Paired with an aluminum-alloy balance wheel, the combination renders this self-winding movement “isographic” — a trademarked term originating from the Greek term iso, meaning equal, which speaks to the regulating organ’s consistency and stability.