Heuer’s Autavia could be fairly said to be the backbone of vintage Heuer enthusiasm, alongside (but perhaps slightly ahead of) the Carrera and Monaco. To the layman, the Monaco is probably most recognizable for its Le Mans movie placement, on the wrist behind a 917K. The Autavia, however, was actually worn by real racers like Siffert, Rindt, and Andretti. Those first-iteration, screw-back Autavias are so highly collectable as to be out of reach to a majority of enthusiasts. One need not fret just yet, however, as the following act raced arguably just as hard as the original.
The 7863 was released in 1968 and was the very first Autavia with a date. The up-date (sorry, had to) was minor, but changed wearability in a few ways. First, the case went to the gym and reached a swole 40mm from the screw-backs’ 38. To aid durability, construction was changed to a snap-back compressor style. Gaskets only tightened (and by extension were only under wearing stress) when surrounding water pressure increased. The reference is known as the 7863-C for compression or compressor case, a delineating factor for Heuer collectors.
Crucially, this Autavia retained its highly legible dial and MH, T, or H bezels. It was powered by the Valjoux 7732, as one might expect. The C-case sustained the Autavia line until the 1163, made famous by Siffert, took over. The 30 Dato is something of a controversial chronograph, sacrificing a clean dial for that extra bit of functionality. While Hodinkee-reading purists may burn its effigy, I believe there is a time and place for all watches. This one seems to be finding appreciative wrists, those who like knowing where they are in the month, with increasing frequency.
This example is remarkably original and has a light wear throughout. The case is sharp and has full lugs. Its dial has no major corrosion or spotting. The tritium is even although a small section at the minute hand’s extremity has fallen out. It is priced according to its condition. It comes from a small, well-regarded NYC retailer.
Find this 7863 here from Those Watch Guys for 6900 USD.