Tropical Mk2 Dial 1163 Heuer Autavia GMT
For all their motorsport ties and Ryan Gosling ad nonsense today, Heuer sure knew how to do a travel watch. And travel does suit the motorsport lifestyle, more than a simple chronograph. This Autavia would’ve been perfectly suited to time laps at Silverstone, fly to Monte Carlo, and time again while not loosing track of London. And because it was a compressor case, you could even do your light swimming at the Hotel de Paris with a negroni afterwards, still wearing it. You’d have needed a Daytona, GMT-Master, and Sub (two wrists plus an ankle) to do the same under the Rolex brand in period. That is innovation as Marc Andreessen defines it: doing more with less. The complication to value ratio is rather high. And this one looks like someone has lived that Riviera lifestyle with it for many years judging by the dial and bezel, all the better.
Really, it’s a bit of Christian Bale: the Autavia GMT can be whatever you want it be, even a value. It’s often said that early Carreras are a great value play today, and I agree. They’re every bit as motorsport a Daytona, Singer-dialed, and sexy as all get out. One can’t make the same argument for a screw-back Rindt, they’re serious chips today. Monacos also, they’re Moneycos (I apologize). But the case for latter automatic Autavias is rarely made. I suspect that is, ironically, all down the case. 42mm and as thin as Lizzo, it’s not subtle. Particularly with this bright Pepsi bezel. But because people go for the ones with cool-guy nicknames, this more technically sophisticated GMT is often overlooked.
And then there’s the most important part of any watch, which is what the kids call the vibe. Carreras are sexy, but rather serious. Early Autavias are driver’s tools, mostly. But the 70s was not ashamed of anything, particularly being the 70s. I look at this on wrist and hear the Bee Gees, it doesn’t take itself too formally. Wear it with shorts, by the pool, buzzed. You get red accents, a citrus-lime GMT hand, orange chono hand, chocolate, and pepsi. It’s a kitchen sink cookie of a recipe, and like the baked good it’s fucking delicious. I just hope this one wasn’t baked (cough, Italians, cough). The matched bezel does lend some confidence, it looks every bit the part of a racing playboy Monte Carlo resident. And all that coming in under 15K in today’s market, it’s something to be celebrated.
About that patina, though some of these ‘Red Needles’ or Mk2s have been known to turn shade slightly, this is one of the more wild. Its bezel is equally ghosted, with a bit of fade on the chrono hand too. While this dial may look relumed, all of these Mk2s had a more whitish blend of tritium, it’s not. The case here is proudly beveled, if it has seen a light polish it’s hard to tell. Light to moderate surface wear. It comes from a well-regarded NYC retailer.