TAG Heuer Introduces the Autavia Jack Heuer Limited Edition

A tribute to the last of the Heuer family to run the company.

In celebration of Jack Heuer’s 85th birthday, TAG Heuer has put together a limited edition Autavia, based on the Heuer 02 “Rindt” remake unveiled earlier in the year. Designed by Jack Heuer himself, the birthday edition is limited to 1932 watches, a reference to his birth year.

While Jack Heuer’s name is on the door so to speak, the Heuer family no longer owns a stake in its namesake firm, and instead Jack Heuer serves as a spiritual ambassador for the watchmaker. When he went to work at Heuer, however, the family still owned the company, and it was then that the Autavia chronograph first hit the market.

TAG Heuer Autavia Jack Heuer Limited Edition 6

In fact, the Autavia was the first watch introduced by Jack Heuer when he joined Ed. Heuer & Cie. in 1962, some 29 years after the Autavia name made its debut as a dashboard timer for automobiles. While Carrera and Monaco models may have their adherents and associations with motor-racing, it was the Autavia that was most often worn by Formula One drivers in the two decades after its launch.

TAG Heuer Autavia Jack Heuer Limited Edition 8

The Autavia not only preceded its siblings in the Heuer line-up, but also outlasted them, remaining in the catalogue until Heuer was purchased by TAG in 1985. More recently, first-generation Autavias have been steadily rising in value, perhaps going even higher at the thematic Heuer auction later this month, to which TAG Heuer has donated the first example, numbered “1/1932”, of the new Autavia Jack Heuer.

TAG Heuer Autavia Jack Heuer Limited Edition 4


Like other historical remake watches, the Jack Heuer edition hasn’t escaped the tweaks and twiddles necessary for millennial appeal. The case is identical to that on the standard model, having been bulked up by 3mm compared to the vintage original, making it 42mm, and also fitted with a wider and thicker bezel. And like many contemporary watches, it has a date at six o’clock.

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What sets the Autavia Jack Heuer apart from the standard model is the classic “panda” dial, with black counters against a silver sunray-brushed dial. And the watch is also rid of the faux vintage lume found on the Autavia “Rindt” remake, which actually heightens its appeal, since nothing seems forced or artificial. And the Jack Heuer model also features a bidirectional hour and minute scale bezel – an element drawn from third-generation Autavias – as opposed to the 12-hour scale found in the stock model.

TAG Heuer_Autavia_JackHeuer limited edition

The Jack Heuer Limited Edition is powered by the same in-house cal. Heuer 02, an automatic column wheel chronograph movement with a vertical clutch and an 80-hour power reserve. While the “Rindt” edition had an exhibition caseback, the Jack Heuer version features a solid one engraved with Mr Heuer’s signature as well as his family crest.

The watch is fitted with a “beads of rice” bracelet that’s modelled on the vintage bracelets made by Gay Freres found on 1960s Autavias.

TAG Heuer Autavia Jack Heuer Limited Edition

Price and availability 

The Autavia Jack Heuer (ref. CBE 2111.BA0687) is priced at US$5900 or S$8100. That’s less than 10% over the regular version of the Autavia.


 

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Frederique Constant Unveils Value-Conscious Moon Phase Wristwatch

Updated with a new movement and smaller case.

A recession often hastens the need for a more sensible approach to pricing. We’ve seen the fruits of that reaction from the splashiest names in watchmaking, but affordability has always been at the core of Frederique Constant, from its perpetual calendar priced under US$7500 to the recent in-house Flyback Chronograph for US$3990.

The latest value proposition from the brand is an updated Slimline Moonphase Manufacture. It’s now equipped with a new, in-house automatic movement that’s produced at Frederique Constant’s recently expanded facility in Plan-les-Ouates.

Frederique Constant Slimline Moonphase Manufacture 4

The first generation Slimline Moonphase had the moon phase and pointer date on the same sub-dial at six o’clock. The redesigned automatic cal. FC-702 now splits the two displays positioned symmetrically. Once again, both functions are set via the crown.

Visible through the open back, the movement runs at 28,800 bph and has a power reserve of 42 hours. It’s dressed up with Côtes de Genève and perlage.

Frederique Constant Slimline Moonphase Manufacture 3

Frederique Constant Slimline Moonphase Manufacture

Frederique Constant has also addressed the gripe many have had with the dimensions of the first generation model that was a largish 42mm. The new Slimline Moonphase Manufacture is now in a size more befitting its classical styling, at just 38.8mm.

It arrives in three variations: a silver dial in a stainless steel or rose gold-plated case, and a black dial in a rose gold-plated case.

Price and Availability

The rose gold-plated versions are priced at €2995 or US$3195 while the steel version goes for €2695 or US$2895.


 

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Artfully Bringing a 1960s Girard-Perregaux Watch Back to Life

A detailed, step by step account of the sympathetic restoration of an heirloom.

Some time ago I received a vintage Girard-Perregaux (GP) alarm wristwatch for restoration. The client requested that the watch was to be taken care of gently. Some clients understandably require this because vintage watches often hold significant sentimental value.

The GP alarm watch had been passed down from father to daughter. The overhaul was commissioned by a former client from Switzerland who is a friend of the lady who had inherited the watch. He wanted to gift the lady a restoration, to allow her to enjoy her father’s watch just as he was enjoying his own overhauled vintage watches.

The state of the watch looked after decades of use

In some cases, it is easier to restore a watch to pristine condition than doing a sympathetic restoration that preserves as much of the original character as possible. One can restore the dial and case to perfect condition, but that will require removing massive amounts of material on the case and alter the fundamentals of the watch, perhaps too much.


The diagnosis 

The GP alarm watch was powered by a cal. 1475 made by A. Schild, which was one of the common alarm movements of the 1960s, making it relatively straightforward mechanically. 

Strangely, the case back of the watch was inexplicably badly damaged, showing gouges and dents. There is no real reason for that as the caseback is protected by the wrist during wear. The case and crystal had marks, dings and scratches, some quite severe, which can be expected from natural wear and tear.

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The watch must have had quite a hard life looking at it from the outside. But surprisingly, it was still keeping time after so many years, although not as well as a modern precision timekeeper.

While the movement was running, the alarm was not working correctly. The amplitude and timing was out of tolerance, and balance staff pivots were worn, with the pallet fork in need of fresh shellac and pallet jewels adjustment. Additionally, the hairspring was not longer flat and the center wheel bridge showed damage.

The first timing test revealed an irregular rate and amplitude, indicating a possible problem between raw dial up and dial down positions, implying an issue with the balance. The balance also had a low amplitude, which indicated that the watch was running dry and was in need of an overhaul.

A screenshot from the timing machine pre-restoration

Letting a watch run in this condition will certainly damage the gear train and other moving parts as the lubricants have dried up, with wear to the pivots of wheels producing an abrasive paste in the jewel holes, which slowly but surely destroy the moving parts of the watch.

The reverse of the dial showing the logo of Jean Singer et Cie

After discussing with the client, it was decided that the case, crystal, hands and movement needed attention. The caseback was too far gone so not much could be done, while the dial had some nice patina that would be left as is.

Below I detail the most crucial steps in the restoration.

The barrel and gear train

The barrels and gear train were in good condition but crusted with old gummed-up oil, with one of the barrel arbors stuck solid on one of the ratchets so it had to be gently punched out in the stacking set.

Driving out the barrel arbor

The bridge for the centre wheel was scratched and tarnished. Several steps would be needed to fix these issues, starting with applying a new straight grained finish with a shellac stone.

The bridge has to be as flat as possible before commencing the graining, otherwise too much material will be removed.

Also, it would have been possible to straight grain the bridge on abrasive paper, which is as good, but since I have a shellac stone I love to use it whenever I get the chance.

Girard Perregaux Restoration 6.1

Checking the bridge on a flat plate (left) and after straight graining on a shellac stone (right)

After the finishing is done, the bridge has to be electroplated, which means the part has to be dipped in a chemical bath.

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Electroplating the bridge after straight graining

The part is suspended by a wire hook

And these are the before and after results.

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Restored finish on the center wheel bridge after the graining and electroplating

Escapement and oscillator

These parts require fairly delicate work, being the “heart” of the watch. Here we start with the escapement, where primary job is adjusting the jewels on the pallet fork.

First we check the position of the pallets with a handy Bergeon tool.

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Pallets being adjusted on the escapement tester

After that we have to get rid of some of the old shellac on the pallet fork.

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Dissolving the old shellac with alcohol (left). Natural shellac next to the pallet fork (right)

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Old shellac removed (left). New shellac applied (right)

The next step is dealing with the hairspring, which has acquired an incline over the years. This means the balance doesn’t oscillate on a flat plane. This requires some careful tweaking by hand to get it back into shape.

Hairspring out of flat

After adjustments to the hairspring

The alarm mechanism

Once the base movement was back in running order, the next thing was to fix the alarm function. Like all alarms of the era, this created a buzzing noise thanks to a rapidly vibrating hammer.

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Alarm mechanism under the dial partially disassembled

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The movement was dissembled and cleaned

Then lubricated and reassembled

Restoration of the hands and case

Now that the base movement and alarm were running well again, the next thing to work on were the external parts, starting beginning with hands.

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Tired looking hands

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Pre-polishing the seconds hand on brass plate covered with diamond paste

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Polishing the sweep seconds hand on a tin plate with diamond paste

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After polishing

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Seconds hand after pre-polishing

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After polishing

Then I begin polishing the hour and minute hands with different abrasive papers. The hour and minute hands were polished with different types of wood and different grains of diamond paste supported on balsa.

The initial state of hour hand

After pre-polishing on abrasive paper

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After final polishing

Minute hand as found

After pre-polishing on 3M

After pre-polishing on abrasive paper

After polishing

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After the polishing, all hands are plated and then “relumed”

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Preparing the luminous paint mixture

Girard Perregaux Restoration - Hands

A fresh coat of luminous paint was applied to the underside of the hand

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The restored hands on the original dial

The next step in cosmetic restoration was the watch case. Care has to be taken when refinishing the case in order to maintain the original form, especially on the lugs, which have a subtle bevel along their length. Very often with vintage watches the refinishing is overly aggressive, which means the details of the case are lost.

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The tools used for pre-polishing

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The bezel being prepared for polishing with an abrasive stick

After preparation

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A protective crystal is then installed on the bezel to protect the inner edge from being polished and keep it sharp

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Post-polishing

In the same way, the case band and lugs were pre-polished and polished.

Scratches and nicks on the lugs

After restoring the definition of the lugs and pre-polishing.

The result after polishing

Girard Perregaux Restoration Case

After the case was polished and cleaned, a new, correct crystal was fitted

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The watch was then cased-up and a final timing was performed.

With both the mechanical and cosmetic work complete, the watch was good to go. While it is still recognisable as the vintage watch that is an heirloom – the dial retains its unusual patina – it now looks clean, crisp and also runs perfectly.

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Henrik Korpela is the principal of K&H Watchmaking Competence Centre (KHWCC) in Le Locle, Switzerland. KHWCC is a fully equipped independent academy that offers a two-year, comprehensive programme in the classical techniques of watchmaking.  Additional information on the school and its programme can be found on the KHWCC website. While running KHWCC and teaching is his primary vocation, however, Henrik occasionally offers restoration services like that detailed here.

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