The New TAG Heuer Replica Autavia

Back in 1962, TAG Heuer — back then, just Heuer — introduced the Autavia, a now-iconic chronograph wristwatch for racing drivers that was discontinued in 1986. At this year’s Baselworld, the brand launched a modern version of the Autavia, combining vintage-inspired retro design elements with a modern, proprietary movement.

The first Heuer timepiece called Autavia was actually a dashboard counter for racing cars and aircraft — the name is a combination of “Automobile” and “Aviation” — and released in 1933. Jack Heuer, the fourth-generation head of the Heuer watch company that would later become known as TAG Heuer, revived the name for the wristwatch chronograph he created in 1962, during the Golden Age of motor racing, which was notable for its rotating bezel, large snailed counters, and ultra-legible black-and-white color scheme. The watch, like other racing-inspired Heuer luxury replica watches review of that era, such as the Carrera and Monaco, became a favorite of many well-known racing drivers of the 1960s and ‘70s, including Jo Siffert, Mario Andretti, Clay Regazzoni, and the F1 legend most associated with the revival piece, Jochen Rindt.

In 2016, TAG Heuer conducted an interactive online campaign called the “Autavia Cup,” in which more than 50,000 of the TAG Heuer brand’s diehard fans voted for which one of 16 vintage Autavia models would be the template for the planned reissue of the Autavia this year. The winner was a 1966 model nicknamed the “Rindt,” which Jochen Rindt famously wore during his racing career.

Borrowing faithfully from many aspects of the vintage Rindt model, the modern-day TAG Heuer Autavia has a 42-mm stainless steel case (enlarged from the 39-mm diameter of the original) with a bidirectional, notched bezel made of black aluminum; beveled lugs; vintage-style “mushroom” chronograph pushers and a ridged crown; a black dial with three white, snailed subdial counters; straight hour and minute hands; and polished steel baton indices filled with a special beige Super-LumiNova whose color is meant to mimic the aged patina of a vintage best replica watches review. The logo on the dial is not “TAG Heuer” but the original “Heuer,” clearly evocative of the watch’s ’60s forebear. A contemporary touch not found on the historical model is the date, which is located in a window at 6 o’clock.

Most definitively modern — and a clear upgrade from the vintage Autavia models — is the movement, TAG Heuer’s automatic Caliber Heuer 02, which is visible through a very of-the-moment sapphire caseback window. An evolved version of TAG Heuer’s CH-80 caliber (and the base for the company’s Heuer 02-T tourbillon movement), it oscillates at a speedy 4-Hz frequency and packs a power reserve of 80 hours. Comprised of 233 total components, including an openworked, blackened rotor, Caliber 02 includes among its notable elements a column wheel and a vertical clutch for the integrated chronograph function.

The TAG Heuer Autavia Replica rejoins the TAG Heuer collection in two versions, one with a seven-row stainless steel “beads of rice” bracelet that echoes the style of its 1960s predecessors; and another on a distressed brown calfskin leather strap whose ecru stitching plays off the colors of the beige Super-LumiNova to complete the “neo-retro” look. Prices are $5,150 on the leather strap, and $5,350 on the steel bracelet.

Replica TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre 11

It is no secret that not all watches are created equal. They vary in price, functionality, materials, size, and — the area we tend to focus upon most in this series — history. But even those watches with a rich history don’t always use exploit it as a cornerstone of their appeal. Take, for example, Rolex, a brand whose watches are some of the most historic and iconic of any we cover, but remains one of the few brands that refuse to develop products that are direct homages to historical predecessors. For some, this is disappointing: having a modern, Rolex-developed tribute to an early Daytona or Datejust is simply a dream not likely to come true. Others see the ethos of the brand differently — that every modern Rolex developed is unique to its time period and, by extension, more unique to its wearer.

Not all brands share this mentality, however; tribute and homage pieces are very common in much of the watchmaking world today. For many brands, re-creating and reconfiguring vintage watches has become one of their most valuable and appealing assets in the modern market. One of the brands that best takes advantage of this strength — while simultaneously pushing the envelope in other contemporary areas — is TAG Heuer. It has proven it can develop both almost amazingly inexpensive tourbillons and cool, modern designs within historical lineages, such as the recent Carrera release during SIHH week in Geneva. At the same time, it has garnered much attention from vintage-watch aficionados by producing an array of historical re-creations. Among these recreations is the Replica TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre 11, a revival of the classic timepiece worn by Steve McQueen.

For those unfamiliar, the original Monaco (pictured above) was developed by Heuer (not yet merged with TAG) in 1969 at the end of a watch manufacturers’ “arms race” to produce the world’s first automatic chronograph. Heuer, along with Breitling, Hamilton-Buren, and Dubois-Dépraz, came together as the Chronomatic Group to produce the Calibre 11 movement (below), and shortly thereafter began to place the revolutionary movement in as many new chronographs as possible. Among them was the Monaco, which soon received an extra boost in fame by being the featured luxury replica watches for sale on McQueen’s wrist in the 1971 auto racing film Le Mans. Since then, the Monaco has become perhaps one of the world’s most iconic watches; understanding this, the modern TAG Heuer has continued to place the series at the forefront of its portfolio.

The most recent iteration of the Monaco is the vintage re-creation, the Calibre 11 (Ref. CAW211P.FC6356). This watch uses a square, 39-mm steel case with angled chronograph pushers, and an extremely noticeable left-side facing crown to accommodate the automatic TAG Heuer Calibre 11 — the brand’s modern version of the famed vintage movement. On the matte blue dial are applied, horizontal hour markers; a date window at the 6 o’clock position; and the watch’s printed name and vintage corporate logo at the 12 o’clock mark. It uses two square subdials for a 30-minute counter and running seconds, and silver hour and minute hands featuring white and red accents. The movement is visible through a sapphire caseback, and holds a 40-hour power reserve, and the entire watch is strapped up on a black leather racing bracelet with a vintage-style “HEUER” buckle (as seen below). Currently, the watch is listed by the brand at $5,900.

Comparing it to its vintage predecessor, there is little to note in the way of differences; so many aspects are shared between the historical reference and its modern version. With the left-side crown, the vintage logo, and the dial colors, this modern watch has done well to honor its forbear. The only real changes are in the modern materials, finishing practices, and movement. The case construction is of a higher quality, the edges of the piece seem somewhat more refined, and the modern watch, notably, has a sapphire caseback not seen on the vintage model. Lastly, the main flaw with the vintage piece was in its movement. While the Chronomatic group did become the first Swiss company to mass-produce the automatic chronograph movement, that movement soon needed to be updated and adjusted because it was incredibly fragile. The modern watch obviously does not use this movement, and instead opted to apply the historical name to a watch with a thoroughly different caliber.

If you have been a longtime reader of this series, you’ll remember the Monaco Calibre 12 (pictured above) was one of the first best swiss replica watches we covered. This watch, which is still currently in production, is the most modern iteration of the Monaco series and a design I felt TAG Heuer might have produced if it had the capabilities of doing so almost 50 years ago. I now take this statement back. Since I have written that article, I purchased a vintage Calibre 11 watch of my own — a Hamilton Chrono-matic Fontainebleau, to be more specific, which you can read more about from our friends at Monochrome—and have had a change of heart. There’s something special about these funky designs, odd case shapes, and unusual movements. Maybe it’s in the overall uniqueness of the piece, or the history behind the watch and its movement, but there is something special about them. Take this “something” and add it to a watch like the TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre 11, a piece with much more a history and fame than my Fontainebleau, and the result is something brilliant.