After delays, TAG Heuer Autavia 42 stainless steel is here – was it worth the wait?

After delays, TAG Heuer Autavia 42 stainless steel is here – was it worth the wait?

Better late than never! After a delay in release, the newly revamped TAG Heuer Autavia 42 is finally available in boutiques. 

The competition

There is no way we can begin this review of the new TAG Heuer Autavia 42 watch without at-least acknowledging the similarities between this and the 2019 Tudor Black Bay Bronze with salt grey dial (ref 79250BA).

Now combine this with Zenith’s Pilot 20 watches range, and the new TAG Heuer Autavia seems like a love child of the two.

Fortunately for TAG Heuer, it does away with any design flaws — the oversized watch look — of its ‘parents’ and brings in a certain charm of its own to the mix. Watch Ya Gonna Do About It is published keeping in mind that some of our readers may be new to the watch world and hence we want to provide them with a wide range of options so that they can choose the best watch for themselves.

We have mentioned these other watches here from other brands so that our new readers are aware of what similar options are available. All of these watches have a few things in common that would appeal to a particular demographic. Even though all these watches are at different price points —Zenith is most costly followed by Tudor followed by TAG Heuer — they have a distinctive fauxtina look to them. They all wear big and are very eye catching from a distance as well.

Anyway, this is not a Tudor or Zenith review, so let’s mosey on back to TAG Heuer Autavia collection. 

Courtesy ©TAG Heuer

The history

The new 2020 — the year could be debated as this was intended to be a 2019 launch — Tag Heuer Autavia is inspired from the original Autavia models of the mid-1960s but manages to have a contemporary appeal that’s bound to find followers amongst current generation motorsports and aviation enthusiasts.

This is yet another instance of TAG Heuer reviving models from 1960s as the new TAG Heuer Carrera 160 Years Silver Limited Edition is also a recent revival piece that we reviewed here.

Courtesy ©Tag Heuer
AUTAVIA CAL. 5 – HERITAGE PICTURE

Autavia as a collection is one of the original pillars of the Heuer brand.

Between 1933 to 1957, the Autavia was a dashboard instrument used in racing cars and aircrafts. Its name was derived from the combination of automobile and aviation. When the production of the Autavia dashboard timer stopped, Jack Heuer decided to use it for the chronograph wristwatches that were launched in 1962. 

The original chronograph watches were instantly recognisable for their legibility and became a hit amongst rally racers, motoring enthusiasts and armed forces around the world. The production of this original range was was however ceased in 1985.

The initial reaction

This new range introduced at Baselworld 2019 comprises of seven sporty models – five in sleek stainless steel and two in ‘noble’ bronze (review here).

From the time this watch was announced, we have seen that there has been a fair amount of hate being sent to the fact that this is no longer a 3-dialled chronograph. I think it’s actually a good idea that this one is not.

The dial of this watch speaks well with both pilot’s watch features and race watch aspects. I think it’s a good strategy on the part of TAG Heuer to retain more of a pilot’s watch essence to this and give it a shift from the otherwise motorsport heavy focus they have in their watch range. The new Carrera is a chronograph, and the new the Monaco calibre Heuer 02 is a chronograph.

Tag Heuer Autavia 42
Courtesy Tag Heuer
 AUTAVIA CAL 5. – FAMILY PICTURE 7 PIECES 2019

Instead of a chronograph, we have here a 42mm three-hand model made in stainless steel. TAG Heuer had to do something to maintain its sporty heritage, and have introduced a bi-directional rotating bezel with a 60-minute scale in black ceramic, blue ceramic or stainless steel option that does enhance the sporty look of the watch. 

The dial

The hour markers and hour, minute and seconds hands are all coated in Super-LumiNova® and provide for greater legibility. In-fact we have to admit that this watch has one of the best dial readabilities we have seen in a long time. Watches are essentially timekeepers and to be able to read a watch dial really quick is an excellent feature to have. We know this may sound obvious to new watch enthusiasts, but a large number of watches being designed today do not seem to have excellent legibility. 

The striking smoked dial is perhaps the best feature of this watch. It is available in black, grey or blue.

The blue grained dial version (our favourite) that darkens from centre outwards is full of colour and the contrast of light blue with a very shiny — you really have to see this watch in person to realise how shiny the bezel actually is — dark blue bezel is exceptional. 

The applied Arabic numerals are filled with lume and provide for high visibility even under darker conditions.

If you are going to buy just one watch in the foreseeable future, we recommend getting this one, especially if you are a fan of the brand (No, we are not being paid by TAG Heuer to say this).

It has everything, barring high power reserve, that a one watch person might need.  

The ‘Autavia’ text on the dial in colour adds a bit of fun to the watch face, and the bold date window at 6’o clock is highly legible and doesn’t break the monotony of the dial face by being at an awkward position of say 4.30. 

Tag Heuer Autavia 42
Courtesy Tag Heuer
WBE5116.FC8266 AUTAVIA CAL. 5 – LIFESTYLE 1

The other aspects

A notable feature is the oversized crown. This XL crown takes inspiration from pilot’s watches and timers as it made it easier for them to use while wearing gloves. 

A design feature we are pleased to note that they have retained is the rounded first-generation Autavia case and bevelled lugs from the 1960s.

The caseback is interesting too, featuring etched images of a propeller and tyre. 

Perhaps the best aspect of this range release is that the wearers can choose from a range of strap options due to the easy-change system TAG has introduced.

Wearers can effortlessly switch from leather to metal to fabric on the fly.

Watch Ya Gonna Do About It
Tag Heuer Autavia 42
Courtesy Tag Heuer
WBE5114.EB0173 AUTAVIA CAL. 5 – LIFESTYLE 1

The suggestions

If we were to improve anything on the dial, we would change the colour of the outer rail minute track from white to match the same colour as the ‘Autavia’ text on the dial.

It’s hardly visible at this point and given everything about this watch screams legibility, this will only help. And perhaps the hour hand could be bit sleeker, it’s fairly chunky and almost looks out of place. 

Another aspect we aren’t too pleased with is branding of this as TAG Heuer instead of simply Heuer.

While this works given this is a new generation of Autavias, there are certain watch collections that should always retain the original branding as homage.

Tag Heuer Autavia 42
Courtesy Tag Heuer
AUTAVIA CAL 5. STRAPS & BRACELETS 

The movement

Each variant of this new Tag Heuer Autavia 42 is powered by the COSC-certified Calibre 5 automatic movement that delivers outstanding precision and reliability under any conditions.

The movement beats at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour (4 Hz), meaning that theoretically the watch is accurate to 1/8th of a second.

A negative we find about this watch is the power reserve of only 38 hours. It’s a sports watch, and anything below 48 hours is frankly low.

#WatchYaGonnaDoAboutIt assessment 

The Tag Heuer Autavia 42 Calibre 5 is a good looking sports and utility watch.

It’s got a uniquely high level of legibility and the style of the watch is retro in feel and the shiny blue bi-directional bezel is a great added feature.

The stainless steel versions compared to the Bronze models make for a more affordable watch and the non-limited edition part makes it widely accessible. The size of 42mm, versatility and the fresh appeal of this watch makes it qualify for our Fusion Friday section. It doesn’t make our His+Her list as the watches are fairly masculine looking and the 42mm size is a bit big though of-course it’s always different strokes for different folks. The decent water resistance — 100m (10 ATM) — allows the watch to be worn for casual swimming or showering and you can wash your hands comfortably with it on.

All in all, it’s a very good looking watch, and with improved power reserve, would be an ideal watch for anyone looking to start or add to their collection. 

Rate-a-Mate1200

Fusion FridayYes

His+Her: No

Grail-o-meterMedium

If you want to just browse the the technical details of this watch, we have a shorter tech specs review under our ‘Sneak Peek’ section here for easy reference. To check out our cool infographic review, head here.

To find out more about Tag Heuer Autavia 42 watches, head to their website here


Courtesy ©Tag Heuer