The other week, I had the opportunity to wear a Heuer Autavia 1163V “Viceroy” for a few days, borrowed from Crown & Caliber’s Heuer 100 auction. An iconic watch with a great story, they are highly sought after, though still “relatively” affordable as far as the vintage market goes. We’ve covered Autavias before, though an earlier model, the 2446C. This specific version of the Autavia, the 1163V, came out in 1972 and was available for just $88 through a promotion via Viceroy cigarettes. It differs in a few ways from other 1163’s, namely featuring a tachymeter bezel and full numerals on the hour sub-dial, but the general design and coloring remained the same.
I’ve come across them before, though never had the chance to really wear one. Honestly, they never really called out to me, especially when placed on a table next to other 60’s/70’s chronographs. They lacked the refinement of Carreras, the style of Speedmasters or the unadulterated cool of Universal Geneve Compaxes. They’re big and clunky with barrel cases and almost plain dials. This initially made them seem perhaps too modern, but it’s this very detail that actually makes them so appealing in the end.
They are very modern watches, way ahead of their time. In fact, if a brand came out with a design like that today, disregarding the left side crown, you wouldn’t bat an eye. At 42mm, with a tall, chunky bezel, they are hefty and solid. The overall barrel shape gives it an aggressive presence, while a mix of brushing and polishing adds some needed elegance. The inverse panda dial lacks fussy details, instead focusing on legibility and symmetry. The hints of red on the outer index and hands adds all of the personality its needs. Just a touch of excitement in something otherwise stoic and purpose built.