March 20, 2019
by Ariel Adams
For Baselworld 2019, TAG Heuer introduces a brand new collection of Autavia timepieces and solidifies the Autavia, once again, as a family of products that will continue to evolve within the brand — as opposed to occasional one-off or limited-edition models, which has been the case with the TAG Heuer Autavia name for a while now. TAG Heuer promised aBlogtoWatch a few months ago that the new Autavia models would be both visually and technically stunning — and they weren’t wrong. Seven new Autavia models (references WBE5112.FC8266, WBE5110.FC8266, WBE5111.FC8267, WBE5112.EB0173, WBE5110.EB0173,
WBE5191.FC8276, WBE5190.FC8268) are being introduced for Baselworld 2019, each with the new version of the TAG Heuer Calibre 5 movement that includes the brand’s in-house and worth coveting “Isograph” carbon composite hairspring technology.
“Isograph” is the name TAG Heuer will apply to its new carbon-composite hairspring technology, which the brand introduced for the first time in January 2019 in the much higher-end TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre Heuer 02-T Tourbillon Nanograph (aBlogtoWatch hands-on here). I highly encourage anyone interested in this new technology to view that article, as I spend more time discussing why Isograph is a big deal. In short, it is a non-metal, non-silicon hairspring technology that has benefits neither metal or silicon can boast. Most notably, Isograph has two main benefits over silicon from an industrialization standpoint. First, the springs are much more flexible, thus less fragile than silicon hairsprings. Second, they can be produced in volume more cheaply.
To prove the versatility of the Isograph carbon composite hairspring, TAG Heuer produces it in house and then puts it in a base Swiss automatic movement, which is the Calibre 5. The 4Hz, 38-hour power reserve automatic movement is given a host of new performance advantages, such as being entirely non-magnetic and unaffected by things such as changes in temperature. The result isn’t, per se, a more accurate movement but rather more accuracy over time, since it is less prone to errors, which causes issues in rate performance. “Isograph” is brandished right on the dial, and I think collectors can perhaps think of Isograph as TAG Heuer’s own take on Omega’s Co-Axial escapement. Again, these aren’t the same thing, but each is a regulation system technology that can be applied to existing movements. All of the Autavia watch movements are COSC Chronometer-certified, a nice touch and something we rarely see from TAG Heuer.
The TAG Heuer Autavia collection, itself, comes from the mind of TAG Heuer’s new chief designer Mr. Guy Bove. After helping to launch the new face of Breitling, as well as having spent years at Chopard vastly improving their product designs, Guy Bove has a new mandate at TAG Heuer that I am personally quite excited about. The Autavia (as I understand) is a product he was responsible for, and we can see a very pleasant blend of practical utility and TAG Heuer sporty DNA. What I really like is that Mr. Bove did not merely seek to remake the classic Autavia but rather produce a relevant and modern timepiece that very much fits within current watch-enthusiast trends. In short, it is a vintage-themed watch with all the colorful character and material choices that collectors are currently excited about.
Fashionability is a key selling point of the 2019 Autavia collection, with TAG Heuer knowing exactly who it needs to appeal to: mainstream luxury timepiece buyers, as well as collectors and enthusiasts. Underneath the smoked dials and nice strap options is a solid tool-style watch product that is intended to be rather versatile in its appeal. The high-performance movement is a story for gear-heads but the main draw of the design will likely be its approachability and emphasis on legibility. Just look at those raised, lume-painted Arabic hour numerals and bold hands. While I haven’t seen the Autavia Isograph watches in person yet, I am familiar with Guy Bove’s work, and those who can think about his recent Breitling products and Chopard racing watches will immediately know the type of legibility I am referring to.
I anticipate that the major complaint TAG Heuer collectors may have about the 2019 Autavia is that the collection doesn’t use the signature tonneau-style case that many of the most popular vintage Autavia models use. Then again, the recent TAG Heuer Heritage Autavia Calibre Heuer 02 chronograph watches (aBlogtoWatch review here) didn’t use a tonneau-style case, either. For me, it is less about the case and more about the fact that the new Autavia is a three-hand model. (Most of the Autavia pieces I think of are chronographs.) It even has some pilot/military watch influence to it, which is fine, as TAG Heuer has the world of motor sports down pretty well with other model families, including the Carrera, as well as the Formula 1. The 2019 Autavia represents a slightly radical new dial and bezel treatment for the brand, which is both decidedly retro and decidedly non-Biver. With the masterful and product-oriented Jean-Claude Biver no longer at the helm of TAG Heuer, his focus on thoroughly modernized products is, at least for now, taking a back step with an emphasis on tried and true timepiece formulas. I like the new TAG Heuer Autavia models very much, but I do agree in a sense they are “me too” models that seek to directly compete with current offerings from Tudor, Breitling, Oris, and Montblanc.
TAG Heuer proves it is serious about the Autavia, given the number of versions it is releasing, including four steel models and two bronze watches. All of the models feature ceramic rotating bezels, save for one SKU that uses a steel bezel that matches the look of the case. The ceramic color options include blue, black, green, and dark brown. Those opting for the matching three-link steel bracelet will, for now, have to choose the blue or black dial model. Each of the dials has a “smoked” style to it, which is a bit lighter toward the center than the on the periphery of the face.
At 42mm-wide, the TAG Heuer Autavia case is well proportioned for many wrists, and the slightly larger-than-necessary crown is an intentional design choice meant to evoke traditional pilot watches. Even the rear of the case has a propeller motif on it, which further means that TAG Heuer isn’t at all sticking to the automotive legacy that many people know the Autavia for.
Over the dial is an AR-coated sapphire crystal, and the watch cases are water resistant to 100 meters, which makes them very capable daily sport watches. Those who opt for the bronze models with the green or brown color accents will, no doubt, have a watch that develops a patina, and those models have titanium casebacks in order to protect your skin from turning green. In addition to the leather straps and metal bracelets, TAG Heuer will include NATO-style straps with at least the versions of the Autavia watches that come on bracelets.
I am excited to check out the 2019 TAG Heuer Autavia Isograph watches in a few days at Baselworld 2019. Prices for the Autavia models are as follows and, according to TAG Heuer, customers can pre-order them now via their website with deliveries beginning during June or July. The TAG Heuer Autavia Isograph collection starts at $3,500 USD for the ref. WBE5111.FC8267 in steel with the gray dial and steel bezel on the strap. The refs. WBE5112.FC8266 (blue dial and bezel), WBE5110.FC8266 (black dial and bezel), WBE5191.FC8276 (bronze with brown dial and bezel), and WBE5190.FC8268 (bronze with green dial and bezel) have a retail price of $3,600 USD. Price for the TAG Heuer Autavia WBE5112.EB0173 (blue with bracelet) and WBE5110.EB0173 (black with bracelet) is $3,950 USD. Learn more at the TAG Heuer website.