I watched the new Top Gun last night (I know, I’m behind) and I took two things away from it: 1. IWC must’ve gone nearly bankrupt paying for that pocket watch promotion. 2. People who wear PVD chronographs are cool. I know that’s not the moral Joseph Kosinski was trying to get across, I’m a sad watch person. However, not all PVD chronographs are equal on my cool-o-meter. While the Orfina is very cool, it didn’t actually defend a country. This Heuer did, and almost no one talks about them.
Because military issued Heuers are really quite scarce and terribly well-known. There’s the storied Bund. But then the less-well-storied Kenyan Air Force 73663. Italian Air Force 510.543. 1550 for the Luftforsvaret of Norway. Hell a few chronographs went to Angola. Among this lesser-known crop, a few steel Autavias were ordered for the Israeli Defense Force or IDF during the 1970s. Following the first Lebanon conflict in 1982, the IDF placed another order for this: an 113.603 in PVD. It’s the most ‘tacticool’ of the lot.
Moreover, there’s a bit of mystery as no one quite seems to know just why the IDF went blackout. Some have suggested these were made for Shayetet 13, and elite counter-terrorism unit. Others have speculated these were for fighter and helicopter squadrons or the Shaldag. There are about three forum threads and a great On The Dash article, all with no resounding resolution. We know these were made for the IDF by their engraving and the PVD finish. However, that’s about it. And because of that, this 113.603 represents one of my favorite territories in horology: a space where there’s room to research deeply and possibly push the frontiers of knowledge. A great watch waiting for an astute buyer to be really, really curious about just where it came from.
This example sports a great hard worn case with sharp edges, you can’t really polish PVD without fucking it up massively. The dial is lightly tropical, with cream tritium. The seconds hand is likely a replacement, but that’s almost to be expected on these watches. For example, the KAF Autavias are often seen with any number of handsets or ‘artful’ lume replacement. Most forces in less well-heeled countries just tried to keep these watches running with what was on hand. It comes from Wind, a well-regarded name in vintage.
Find this IDF Autavia here from Wind Vintage for 15900 USD.