In vintage Heuer, as Wilsdorf and a few others, there is no shortage of inter-reference nuance. The Autavia is undoubtedly one of the most revered vintage chronographs all time. And yet, very few collectors are inflating slight discrepancies to massive proportions for profit; there is far less of the ‘meters-first’ type markups in Heuer. That’s a good thing. Nonetheless, I find slightly different pusher stems and dial variants just interesting; I am actually that sad. Just such a slightly different iteration piqued my interest recently, as I’d only read about these previous. And it happens to be in an all-time great reference: the 2446 Jochen Rindt, here with a rarer rounded numeral dial.
I once described the Jochen Rindt as to vintage chronographs what Nirvana is to classic rock: a bit alternative or niche in its time, but generally accepted as stratospheric genius today. That genius and history is only becoming more recognized in time. Perhaps first to notice its classic and practical charm, however, was Jochen Rindt—a German-Austrian F1 driver of the golden era (and only driver to ever win the championship posthumously). This exact style of 2446 was seen on his wrist frequently around the paddock until his tragic accident in 1970. His story, particularly his rise to driving, is inspirational to say the least. His choice of watch, unsurprisingly, was fit to character. To me, the 2446 appeals in unpretentious, charming, thoroughly considered, and well-executed design.
This precise 2446 races one lap further however, as its dial is one for what the Englanders would call an anorak. Within the second execution 2446 case (still screw-back, but beveled lugs), a single batch of dials was made with far more rounded register font. No one knows exactly why. The rounded dial appeared in early advertising artwork, which has led some to suggest it might be an early or transitional variant. The answer remains unknown still. For further reading, grovel with me at the feet of Jeff Stein on Chronocentric and OTD. What remains certain is that this is a chronograph of historic proportions and a beautifully nuanced example at that. And yet, it is totally unassuming, unpretentious in the extreme. My, did Rindt ever have style.
To further my desire, the case is seemingly unpolished. From what I can glean in these photos, the lugs are full and unmolested. Its dial is not only that rare batch, but well preserved. The registers are clear of corrosion as so often we see in the 2446. The tritium applications in handset and markers are cream, even. The bezel has hard wear but is correct and no less lovely for it. The watch comes from a small, well-regarded Italian-Swiss retailer.
Find this 2446 Autavia available here from @avocadovintagewatches on Instagram by DM for 14500 EUR.