Heuer Autavia

Why the Heuer Autavia made me fall in love (again) with Formula 1

3 min read
Richard Brown



Richard Brown



As part of the Christmas watch swap, now on the YouTube channel, Anthony Peacock and I bequeathed two treasured watches to each another for the 2022 Christmas holiday period.

I gave Anthony my Breitling Blackbird and he entrusted me with his Heuer Autavia. We have just published Anthony’s thoughts on the Breitling and here are my own on the Autavia.

The WatchGecko Christmas Swap - Credit WatchGecko

1970s Corgi F1 cars

As a child of the 70s I grew up in arguably the most exciting and visceral era of Formula 1. My bedroom window ledge had a veritable grid of Corgi F1 cars ranging from my treasured Matra Simca to the impossibly beautiful black and gold JPS Lotus 78 driven by Mario Andretti (still one of the most beautiful F1 cars of all time). Recently re-watching the Ron Howard film RUSH I fell in love with these cars again. But what had prompted the re-watch of this movie? Well, it was the fact that I was wearing the aforementioned Heuer Autavia.

Matra Simca MS120 F1 car - Adobe Stock

History of the Autavia

The original iteration of this watch was famously worn by Jochen Rindt, who posthumously won the 1970 Formula 1 World Championship aged 28 and was one of the first ambassadors for a watch brand (a creature we are all too familiar with now). With regards to motorsport, he really put Heuer on the map, thanks to his friendship with Jack Heuer. The watch he wore was the Heuer Autavia reference 2446 with the Valjoux 72 movement, featuring three subdials and an outer rotating 60-minute bezel. Originals now exchange hands for large sums of money now but fortunately, in 2017, TAG Heuer reissued the classic Autavia complete with authentic period markings and branded only as ‘Heuer’.

Heuer Autavia - Credit WatchGecko

And it is this watch that catapulted me back to 10-year-old Richard dusting off his F1 toy car collection. The watch just has this effect. Aside from the fact that it is technically superb, it’s the era it evokes that is the intangible lure of this watch. It can best be compared to strapping on an Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch and just for a moment feeling like Buzz Aldrin. The Autavia is more than the sum of its parts; it takes you to a different place where you can smell the rubber, the high-octane fuel and sense the noise and reverberation of a 1970s Ford Cosworth 3.0-litre V8.  

Team MARCH 701 F1 car - Adobe Stock

Of course, we cannot ignore the fact that TAG Heuer have made a supreme effort when it comes to the reissue of something as iconic as the Autavia. While the dial may channel the original reverse Panda look and drop the “TAG”, internally the 2017 model boasts a stunning in-house Calibre 2 movement, which is not only striking to look at with its black rotor but also hugely accurate and capable with an 80-hour power reserve.

I have really enjoyed wearing the Autavia; so much so that I have not really missed the Breitling. It's made me look back, possibly through rose tinted glasses, to the noisy days of V8 F1 and yet still look forward to the 2023 season. However, more than any motorsport connection I have enjoyed the swap of watches between two good friends and the resulting chats over the phone as we discover something new on the borrowed watch.

Given the heart-warming comments on the video when we initiated the swap Anthony and I plan to do more of these, maybe quarterly. We are already scheming another high-end swap, and at the other end of the scale trading resin digital watches, so stay tuned on the YouTube Channel and Magazine for updates on what we are now calling "Spring Swap".

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Richard Brown

About the Author: Richard Brown

I truly believe one of the best partners in exploration and adventure is a fine watch. Over 30 years of collecting, my fascination with the technical capabilities of both vintage and modern timepieces has never abated and it is a privilege to be able to share this passion through writing.

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