Autavia 2446 | second execution | Steel
Cal. Valjoux 72
This rare, second-execution Heuer Autavia 2446 was purchased on the 19th of November, 1964, from W. D. Morgan & Co. and has been with its original owner from new. In its time, the watch has seen countless motorcycle racing events across Europe (including the Isle of Man TT), along with depths of 125ft, diving in the south of France and across the United Kingdom. Having sat at the bottom of a drawer for over thirty years, before visiting the newly-formed vintage department of Tag Heuer in March 2017, this 2446 second-execution is now presented in remarkable condition.
The watch comes with its original paperwork (signed by W. D. Morgan & Co.) and guarantee certificate from J. W. Pullen, Holborn. The original features of this second-execution Autavia have been sensitively preserved by Tag Heuer’s vintage specialist watchmakers, acknowledging this example’s historical importance. The watch is accompanied by a service guarantee card from Tag Heuer, dated March 2017.
The compelling story of this watch begins from its year of purchase, in 1964 - coinciding with the year the original owner took up motorcycle-racing. As such, this 'Autavia' (derived from a combination of the words 'AUTOmobile' and 'AVIAtion') was an excellent fit. In 1965, the owner took part in the Manx Grand Prix, held on the same circuit as the famous Isle of Man TT. He quickly progressed to other races, mixing with international motorcycle legends Giacomo Agostini and Mike Hailwood, in ’68. That same year, the owner met and became good friends with Barry Sheene and his father Franco, who looked after his Bultaco race bike at their workshop in Queen Square, Holborn.
He continued to race throughout the late 60’s and early 70’s, including time at the works BMW factory team in 1973, with races in Rouen and Le Mans (France), Barcelona (Spain) and Imola (Italy), along with British nationals and internationals. Upon retirement from racing, the owner trained as a scuba-diver, joining two clubs, qualifying as a 2nd class diver. With this, the watch was then put to practical use once more - its sixty-minute rotating bezel, providing a convenient visual cue for elapsed-time whilst diving, measured across England, Scotland and the Bay of Cavalier in the South of France.
It was at the latter, that this Heuer Autavia proved most valuable, diving to depths of approximately 125ft (40m) - deeper than most recreational dives. With a bottom time of 11 minutes, accurate timekeeping was essential. The owner of this watch was one of three close friends who enjoyed the sport together, opting to use this method of timing on the wrist between them. Though not typically associated with diving, this second-execution 2446 survived unscathed, having saved its owner (and friends) on more than one occasion.
This second-execution Heuer Autavia 2446, with serial number 57 XXX has a round, stainless steel case with large chronograph pushers and an original signed, fluted crown. The case measures 39 mm in diameter and is sharp and thick, retaining its definition. The case was refinished during servicing by Tag Heuer, though the correct angles and finishes have been applied. The screw-down caseback features the Heuer hallmark, 'AUTAVIA' and 'STAINLESS STEEL CHRONOGRAPH - WATERPROOF - GUARANTEED 300 FT UNDER WATER' on the outside.
The case features a black rotating bezel with a sixty-minute graduation, faded to a dark grey. Similarly, the black second-execution dial has lightly-faded, with white minute markers and applied, faceted silver index markers for the hours. The lume dot markings for the hours are intact and completely original, having aged to a dark orange. It features a white Heuer logo, while 'AUTAVIA' is referenced on the dial at twelve o'clock. A 'SWISS' marking is visible at six o'clock on the twelve-hour sub-register.
The chronograph hand is white, with a small counter-balance, contrasting against the black dial for precise reading of elapsed time. The sub-registers at three, six and nine o'clock are the thirty-minute, the twelve-hour and the sub-second dials respectively, featuring Arabic numerals and second-execution hands. The hour and minute hands are correct and original, in second-execution dauphine style, filled with luminous material darkened with age.
The watch carries the manual-winding, 17 jewel, Valjoux Calibre 72 (labeled as 'Leonidas') at its heart, beating at 18,000 A/h, with a power reserve of approximately 46 hours. This is the same tried and tested column wheel chronograph calibre, famed for its reliability, shared by many of the era’s most iconic timepieces.
Considered a “grail” piece by many collectors, this second-execution is rarer than later variations of the Autavia 2446, owing to its limited production. With its unique story and provenance, as well as history of professional use, this second-execution Heuer Autavia fittingly represents one of the most iconic references in Heuer’s history.
This Heuer Autavia 2446 second-execution comes fitted with a black leather strap and Heuer steel buckle (fitted by Tag Heuer post-servicing), as well as a brown suede strap.
Viewings can be arranged in Central London by appointment.
|Model:||Autavia Second Execution Ref. 2446|
|Movement:||mechanical manual-winding Cal. Valjoux 72|
|Functions:||chronograph, hours, minutes, sub-seconds|
|Case:||39 mm stainless steel|
|Bracelet:||black leather strap with steel Heuer tang buckle|
|Box & papers:||original purchase receipt, guarantee certificate and Heuer service gaurantee card|
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