Heuer Autavia 11630P Diver Decomp Tropic
Heuer Autavia 11630P Diver Decomp Tropical Dial, Cal. 12, c1974
It’s astonishing how time flies.. back in August 2012 a three way trade with two fellow Heuristas resulted in me saying goodbye to my 1163 Viceroy, and welcoming in this 11630P. That’s its official name, I added ‘decomp’ to highlight the decompression bezel, although it was only available with this bezel.
This particular c1974 example has obviously seen quite a bit of sun, and the dial has turned a stunning tobacco brown ‘tropic’ colour, and there is some fading to the orange accents on the minute subdial. It’s quite wonderful. I tried to capture it in the photos, to little success I’m afraid, although the ‘dial shot’ does give a hint, it clearly noticeable in daylight. Under artificial lights, it does have a deep grey appearance too. Also noticeable are the amazing ‘blued’ subdial hands. I haven’t checked all my Autavias, but I’n pretty sure those with white subdials have these blued hands, although they generally look black. Maybe the sun-bleaching has made them more noticeable in this case. I don’t normally go for modern rubber straps on Autavias, but this ‘Breitling Pro Racer’ style seems to suit this special Autavia down to the ground. This is a truly special watch, and belongs to an elite group of Autavias that has directly applied hour lume plots, like you see on most of the GMTs, it gives it a real tool-esk appearance. So, if you want the GMT look without the added hands and red/blue bezel, this is a winner.
This example also had the pleasure to feature in the Autavia book (grab a copy – it’s highly recommended and makes a great coffee table book – with amazing photography).
So, why ‘P’?
Simple really.. like many of Heuers models, they used French descriptions, ie. N = Noir (Black). P simply means Plongeur, or Diver – probably where ‘plunge’ originated! Oddly, the P coding was never used prior to this model, even for the Heuer divers, but it serves as a way to distinguish it from other 11630’s in catalogue listings and other official paperwork. As this shares the same case with other 11630 models, there is nothing special ‘specification wise’ that makes it more suited to diving than any other 11630.. or any of the cushion case Autavias.. but I feel that I still need to file it under the ‘Heuer Divers’ category. Is it rare.. well, that’s subjective. I won’t hazard a guess at how many are out there, but it certainly isn’t common, and many tend to have seen a hard life.. all I’ll say is.. if you see a good one, buy it.
How does the decomp bezel work?
Well.. I’m writing this from memory, so hope this is correct… as I understand it, it shows how long you have before you have to decompress..
You turn the bezel so the 12 o’clock triangle lines up with the minute hand, like any regular divers bezel. As you can see, you only have approx. 5 minutes at 60 meters depth.. but 9 minutes at 50m, 15 minutes at 40m, etc etc.. the last marking is right around the bezel, so at 18m you have 56 minutes to dive. Please let me know if that’s wrong!
Mystery 1163 version..
It is first seen in the 1972 catalogue.. clearly listed as 11630P Diver, but if you look closely, you’ll note that it if housed in an earlier 1163 case, with acrylic crystal, also it has no bezel lume pip. It was presumed that this might be an ‘art dept’ error, as these have been seen before – a pre-computer version of a ‘photoshop fail’. But in the last few years, 1163’s have surfaced which have this 11630P style dial. Some have decomp bezels, some don’t. Best guess is that it was a very short-lived run, and they switched quickly to the 11630 case. Here is an example that a fellow Heuerista acquired, being discussed over on the Heuer forum – as you can see, it too has a tropical brown dial.
The next time it is seen (in available catalogues), is in the 1974 catalogue.. and this is the only time it is pictured with a bezel lume pip. That’s why I’m suggesting this one is from c1974, as opposed to later, although it’s possible the insert was replaced at service – these details are unknown.
You can also see it in the 1978 catalogue, and it makes a cameo appearance on the wrist of a diver in the 1984/5 catalogue. I know it’s hardly visible, but I have a copy of the catalogue, and it is more clear in the flesh, see last photo below.
Also, it’s worth noting that one of the coolest dudes on Earth wore a 11630P.. Sir Mick Jagger. In fact, you might call him a ‘Heuer Guy’, as he also owned/owns a 70’s Carrera… more info here on OTD.. Jagger’s Heuers.
There is a great write-up over on Cal 11..
Historic prices from OTD.. ’72 = $275, ’74 = DM620, ’78 = $439, ‘85 = 1,050DM.
1972 Catalogue.. But is the 1163 cased variant..
1974 Catalogue… First time seen in 11630 form in available catalogues.. and the only time seen with a lume pip on the bezel.
Not technically ‘shown’ in the catalogue, but the photograph of the diver in the water is wearing one..