‘Viceroy’ 1163 MH-Bezel Heuer Autavia
I am of a generation where cigarette advertising has been banished and demonized for the entirety of my years. Despite this, and largely due to a Formula 1 livery addiction, I find myself very nostalgic for cigarette-adjacent advertising from the late 60s and early 70s. Mission Winnow doesn’t quite do it for me. Evidently, I’m not alone in love for these vintage designs as the JPS, Marlboro, and Rothman’s colors are lore today. The ads proved so memorable that they infiltrated watches as well, as is the case with this uncommon Autavia.
The 1163 was among the very first in automatic chronograph calibres. Its place in horological history is solidified for this, a micro-rotor, and affiliation with Formula 1. Five-time Le Mans winner and damn legend Derek Bell famously wore a Mk5 MH non-viceroy dial, very similar but not this Viceroy. This dial and 41.5mm steel case truly encapsulate the ethos of the 1970s, with bold accents and an angular case profile. The watch gets its name from an ad in which Indy 500 & Baja 1000 competitor Parnelli Jones appears with a cig, Viceroy 1163, and cool-guy look. Magazine readers were able to clip the ad and, combined with a Viceroy box UPC, receive a discount on this special edition dual-branded Autavia.
The Viceroy dial is distinguished by a subdial divided 1 thru 12 with red accents and polished luminous insert indices with a ‘red-strike’ handset. Usually, these are seen with tachymetre bezels. However, late serial numbers in the last batch of production were sold with both bezels as an option. Exact serial cutoff are not known, but have been seen in multiple ‘barn find’ watches and original owners. It is estimated that ~5000 of these partnership 1163 Autavias were produced in total.
The case on this example is marvelous, likely entirely unpolished. The dial is clear of handstrikes or discoloration. Its bezel has just the lightest degree of wear and ghosting to express its vintage character. It comes as a naked watch from a well-regarded German retailer.
Find this Viceroy 1163 here from Watchurbia for 4200 EUR.