Heuer Autavia Mario Andretti
Heuer Autavia Mario Andretti
The story of the brand and the model
For those who love motorsports, Heuer is a familiar name. Since the dawn of machines racing wheel to wheel and trying to cross that finish line first, Heuer was there to time it. Through decades of endless sweat, blood, and tears, they managed to work themselves up from a small Swiss manufacturer to an international household name, earning respect from drivers, automobile makers, and fans of racing from all around the world.
The brand was founded in 1860 by Edouard Heuer in St-Imier, Switzerland as a humble manufacture with a great vision. Today, they’re certainly best known for their chronograph technology and several improvements to the working of watches, such as the first patent for a keyless winding system in 1869, the first dashboard timer for automobiles and aviation in 1911, and the first stopwatch accurate to 1/100 of a second in 1916. Thanks to such remarkable achievements, they also became the leader in sports timing, providing stopwatches and timers for various events, such as the Olympic Games, Formula One, and the Indy 500.
Probably the most iconic model of that Heuer era is the Autavia, a chronograph wristwatch that was launched in 1962. The name Autavia is a smart combination of “AUTomobile” and “AVIAtion”, reflecting the dual purpose of the watch as a dashboard instrument and a wristwatch. This collection was very popular among racing drivers, pilots, and adventurers, who appreciated its good build, legibility, and functionality. The watch also featured a rotating bezel that could be used for various purposes important for high performers, such as measuring elapsed time, speed, distance, or navigation.
One of the most prominent wearers of the Autavia was the Italian-American racing legend Mario Andretti, who won the Formula One World Championship, the Indy 500, and the Daytona 500. Andretti famously wore a Heuer Autavia Ref. 3646M, so the particular black & white model is also known as the “Mario Andretti” or the “Andretti Autavia” among collectors.
Why is this watch popular?
Apart from the connection to the world of speed, Heuer also catered to those, who valued flawless performance. From a brand with such profound links to high-performing machines and perfectly designed vessels capable of carrying its drivers through corners at breathtaking speeds, the expectations were harsh. People demanded a precise, compact, innovative, but also beautiful timepiece that would make them equally proud at a dinner table with their life-long business partners as much as while attending a Formula 1 race. And Heuer delivered.
The Autavia was an absolute hit. Crowds of connoisseurs passionately shared their newfound horological love with each other, spreading awareness about the new Heuer creation. The watch was a stunning companion on the wrist that often earned its wearer many glances and compliments on social occasions. Heuer also dialled in the technical aspect of this timepiece. Powered by a reliable hand-wound movement, the watch never betrayed its owner in an hour of need, precisely showing the right time under any circumstances.
The 39mm size became very popular, ensuring long-lasting comfort on the wrist even after cheering your favourite driver with your hands up for hours.
Commonly worn by those who were passionate about racing, this watch became an unofficial mark of the community, allowing the “members” to easily distinguish each other in the parties and events.
For reasons like this, it is quite obvious why Autavia became the icon of that era.
Starting with the face of the watch, we can notice the beautiful “panda” colour scheme of this model - the dial is made in black, while the sub-dials are in contrasting cream-white. The left sub-dial serves for measuring seconds outside of the chronograph, while the right dial precisely counts minutes when the unique timing feature of this watch is started.
Twelve hour markers can be seen on the dial each having a luminescent coating, together with the hour and minute hands, which also have a luminescent coating, ensure optimal visibility even in the dark, a practical and now standard feature of any watch, which was quite atypical at that time. The name of the model and of the brand is written in white and clearly visible under the doubled 12 o’clock hour marker. The chronograph hand is ready also at 12 o’clock and can be easily operated by two pushers on the right side of the watch, one above and one below the crown, which either start, pause, or stop the iconic Heuer complication.
The bezel of this watch is again made in black and white, with a distinctive pointer and markers from 10 to 60 evenly spaced around the bezel. The whole bezel can be rotated to align the zero marker with the minute hand, and as time passes, the minute hand will point to the elapsed time on the bezel.
When we flip the watch, we can see the whole case is made of stainless steel, ensuring good protection of the Valjoux movement inside. On the back of the case, the logo of the brand is again visible.
The timepiece is on an aftermarket brown leather strap, that looks and feels comfortable on the wrist. The aftermarket steel buckle will firmly hold the whole watch on your wrist.
Although this timepiece is from 1967, the only real proof of its age is the several minor scratches on the plexiglass, which give the watch a true vintage feel. Apart from that, this exemplar is in excellent condition.
The investment value of this model
The watch’s association with former Formula 1 World Champion Mario Andretti adds to its appeal and potential investment value. The watch’s manual winding calibre Valjoux 92 is also highly regarded in the horology community.
Given that the watch is in excellent condition with only a few scratches on the glass, it will probably fetch a high price in the market - if you decide to sell it. If not, you have a reliable asset that grows in value over time, ensuring you have a great and wearable piece to pass down to your kids.
Vintage watches like the Heuer Autavia Mario Andretti 3646 often appreciate in value over time, making them a likely good investment.
How it feels on the wrist & Why I love this watch
When you wear this timepiece on your wrist, you understand that it was made by people whose whole world is about optimizing for the best possible performance. It is lightweight and sits perfectly on the wrist. The combination of the leather strap and 39mm takes care of your comfort and the stability on your wrist. Thanks to the relatively low profile, it fits perfectly under even the tightest of shirts. The pushers work great, without any delays or the need to apply big pressure in order to activate the chronograph.
Model: Autavia 'Mario Andretti'
Case size: 39 mm
Case material: Steel
Bracelet material: Aftermarket strap with an aftermarket buckle
Water resistance: No
Condition: Fully serviced by Heuer. Very good vintage condition.
Guarantee: We will provide you with an invoice and a 2-year guarantee issued under your name.