Heuer Autavia 2446C Tachy
Heuer Autavia 2446C Tachy, V72, c1971-2 (2446C 2nd dial/hands)
Some of the most sought after Heuers are the early screwback Autavias, and they are indeed very special. This iteration is what replaced the screwback cased models.. it is a compression snapback case, hence the ‘C’ in the model code. These are bigger and chunkier than it’s processors.
Some prefer the more elegant case of the screwback, but I’m certainly a fan of this bold angular C case. They are awkward to capture in a photograph, but in the flesh, they are lovely.. and big for a vintage watch of the early 70’s. Lugs went up by 1mm to 20mm, the bezel dominates the top down view and is a touch under 41mm across, with the bigger fatter crown it comes in at 44.8mm.
This is the last iteration of the C case, and features fluted pushers, ‘tramline’ applied hour batons, inlaid with a thin black stripe – as are the hands. The outer track also has red highlights on every hour and features the red straight sided arrow chrono sweep hand that found it’s way onto the majority of all Heuers that came after. It also has fatter sub-dial hands, and of course, powered by the legendary Valjoux 72 movement. You can clearly see the black/red/fluted pushers DNA in this watch providing the ‘link’ between the early models and the later cushion case Viceroy colour scheme that we are all familiar with.
The exact ‘Mk’ of this model is a little confusing, as it was originally graded from the very first Autavias, which makes this (at time of writing) a 2446C – Mk5 dial, Mk5 hands.. but there are tiny iterations of other models that have been discovered, which pushes up the ‘Mk’ number. The latest thinking has made things more simple.. instead of working out which elements are which compared to the entire range, we just look at it from the point of view of the 2446 C case range.. and there were x2 dials, this being the 2nd. It is also far simpler to say that this is the last C case Autavia made. It also has a plain polished caseback, with the small concentric circles on the edge to mark where you open the case.
It’s bold design gives it a tool-like appearance, and as such is one of the few vintage Heuers that looks great on a NATO type strap. I know many don’t like them, but if you’re a fan, it does look great.. I tried some different colours, and they suit it well too. I was lucky enough to source a NOS bezel for this model, and it really sets it off. In fact, the Argentinian Airforce opted for this model for issued equipment. Here is an excerpt from an issued model that sold at Bonhams a while back..
“The Argentinean Airforce was supplied with batches of Heuer watches during the late 1960’s and 1970’s. The case differs in size and construction from the earlier Autavia and a new so-called compressor case with snap on back was introduced, sealing the case from differences of internal and external pressure. The crown is larger and Heuer signed and it has larger chronograph pushers with a fluted design. As these were tool watches, very few have survived in pristine condition.”
(Please note, the date given to this watch is incorrect)