Heuer Autavia 11063 ‘Alpha Orange Skunkworks’ Custom
Heuer Autavia 11063 MH/Decomp ‘Alpha Orange Skunkworks’ Custom c1973 with ’83 case
I’m aware that many Heuer collectors may be shaking their heads or simply thinking ‘why?’.. why take a perfectly good and original 11630 orange/black and convert it.. some may label my creation a ‘franken’, and let’s be perfectly clear here – technically, yes – it is a franken. Allow me to explain..
The early 70’s 11630 orange/black was one of the first serious Heuer chronos I bought.. a long time ago. My budget was limited, and it was a bit rough around the edges.. still, I was very proud of my new watch. I had it for some considerable time, then eventually sent it off to Jimbo, my go-to watch man, to fit a new crystal.. and I remember him emailing me back, with some photos – saying that the dial and hands were in remarkable condition.. I was so surprised.. as the heavily scratched crystal didn’t really allow a good view of the dial. It turned out to be a great stroke of luck, the dial and handset was, well.. quite simply, the best I or James had seen. Deep orange accents with sublime original lume.. all factory fresh, the dial perfect in every way. Result!
Thing is.. I rarely wore the watch.. it didn’t feel right, it didn’t sit well on my wrist. This I can’t explain.. I’m a big fan of the 11630 case, and have several , I wear them all with no problem at all. But this one, just didn’t feel right.. weird. I’m fully aware that there are minor case differences across the 11630 range, there were two case suppliers, and I’m guessing that the shape may have differed over the years, but we are talking about miniscule difference.
So, as it wasn’t getting any wrist time, I decided to sell it… Then, in a mad moment I thought “why not try it in a 11063 case”, and the seed was planted. It appealed to me, because I love the big ol’ 11063 case, I think it’s may favourite. I guess it was a case of ‘sell the watch or try a different case’. At this time I was reminded of Abel’s stunning custom PVD Heuer – the ‘Abeltavia’, it was a brave move, but had a great reception amongst the Heuer fans.. as he wasn’t hiding it’s ‘franken-ness’.. it was an open an honest custom – and it looked great.
Time passed, and the project was put on the back burner, while I seeked out a 11063 case. Eventually one popped up, from a fellow US Heuerista, and I traded a bracelet for it. The case was a little worse for wear, but no major dings. I sent it off to the Belgium master, Abel, who did superb job refinishing the case., and I don’t say it lightly – it’s one of his best.. it’s so sharp it’s just wonderful to study.
So, with the case sorted it was good to go to Jimbo, who expertly put it all together with a new crystal and a black glass gasket – every detail ticked.
The results are amazing. I have a choice of two NOS bezels too – Decomp or Min/Hour. What I really like about this watch is the involvement of many people in the Heuer world that I have come to call friends.. I was drawn in to the chromos by Pauls great site – Heuerworld, and learned a great deal from Jeff’s OTD, the original watch was from a US collector, the 11063 case sourced from Lanny in a trade for a bracelet I got from AndyO. The movement is freshly serviced by Rich Askham – one of the best in the business (who incidentally said that the movement was a dream, like new!), the M/H bezel is from RichC, the Decomp bezel is from AndyO via David D (fromCal.11.com), the case by Abel, at a slight discount in trade some help I gave him recently, and finally the putting together of it all by Jimbo.. it’s a celebration of some good Heuer friends, and purely for that, it’s a great thing to me, and I love it.