There is a word that can quicken the pulse of any Heuer collector: CHRONOMATIC. This awe-inspiring word is found on the earliest automatic Autavias, Carreras, and Monacos, with only a handful known to the market. “Chronomatic” represents so much more than just the "earliest" - it represents the boldness of the designs and colors, in the case of these early Autavias the large text as well as large plots of paint by the hour markers, and it also represents the boldness of a dream to make the world's first automatic chronograph.
This dream would end up taking the form of "Project 99", which brought together Heuer, Breitling, Hamilton/Buren and Dubois-Depraz to join forces in seeking to develop the world's first automatic chronograph in a race against Zenith and Seiko, with the introduction of three different automatic chronograph calibers in 1969.
The present watch is the 1163T featuring a tachymeter bezel and this version was designed particularly for use by racecar drivers. It is of no surprise, then, that a Chronomatic Autavia found its way to the wrist of the legendary Swiss racecar driver Jo Siffert. The unusual white, black, and blue color scheme of this Autavia earned this watch and its automatic successors the nickname the “Jo Siffert Autavia” with the manual versions featuring this color scheme now being called “Jo Siffert Colors Autavias”.
The present watch is one of only a small number known to the market. It is owned by a collector who purchased it from the original owner who was a motorsports enthusiast. The original owner was wearing it on his motorcycle and took a hard fall. The watch then caught against the pavement breaking the man’s arm and scratching the bezel and bezel insert. The watch was worn for many years and has been lightly polished in the past. The present owner of the watch has kept it in this condition as a reflection of the life it has lived, but a future owner may choose to replace the bezel and restore the case.
This is the first time that Christie’s has ever sold one of the legendary Chronomatic Heuer chronographs and we are thrilled be able to offer both the white (1163T and black (1163MH), options of the legendary Chronomatic Autavias. Please see Lot 139 in this sale for the black dial model 1163MH.