Mk2 2446C Heuer Autavia
Not all Valjoux 72s are super-unobtainium. Daytonas are, some Universals are starting to be, and many screw-back Autavias are already there. But the latter, slightly blockier, and more robust 2446C is still represents significant value compared to just about everything out there. There are many subtle differences within 2446s, case styles, bezel units, hands, and dials can all change. But some of the lesser collected 2446s are fantastic chronographs which ooze 70s motorsport ethos, yet can be had for no more than the price of many modern TAG Carreras.
The reason for this is twofold: first, people collect watches with nicknames. There’s a Rindt 2446, Siffert 1163, Andretti 1158, or for the real nerds out there Villeneuve 73663T. For Heuers that were worn in period by some of the more famed drivers, values go up. It’s simple, scholarship creates interest which in turn creates a market. I blame Jeff Stein, but I also love him. I also blame Phillips in 2017 for attempting to hype a market before it existed in a big way but that’s neither here nor there. Second, this was one of the few times Heuer got it wrong.
The 2446C used a compressor case with a rubber gasket where the crown and pushers ran through it. As water pressure went up, the back compressed on this gasket, which ‘bit down’ on the stems to prevent water entry. Except rubber wears. And by the time a decade had passed, Heuer realized compressor cases weren’t a permanent answer to water resistance. They reverted back to screw backs shortly thereafter. But it’s not like you’re diving with a Rindt either. In the C case you get simply outrageous value for money, and when I consistently hear collectors parroting that all the great watches are far too expensive, well I simply disagree. No one’s saying cheap, this a vintage V72 chronograph from a big name. But it’s no more than a modern Carrera. Let that sink in. Much like the water will if you go swimming with this (don’t).
This example has a fantastic dial. No visible damage, lightly patinated, with light cream tritium. The bezel is ghosted to a gunmetal tone, which looks mega. Its case has seen a polish, but retains full lugs. Back engravings no longer visible. Signed crown is still there though. It comes on a vintage beads of rice from a well-regarded German retailer.