What goes around…

A couple of years ago, my watches were much more geared towards vintage – I suppose a slight change of lifestyle and work pattern led me down the newer and dressier path. I’m very happy with what I have, hence the lack of buying and/or selling activity over the last few months; however, I do kind of miss a few of my older pieces, and one that I really did like a lot was the Heuer Autavia 11630 GMT. It really is a wonderful watch, and I was lucky to have what was effectively a NOS example that passed through the hands – and workshop – of the Belgian Magician. This is the one, now happily gracing a friends wrist…

These screw-back Autavias are beautiful watches, but I found the large cushion case and fairly high bezel a bit impractical; in fact, what I really wanted was the earlier compression-cased version (the 2446c). Now, that one is appreciably smaller at 40mm, so very wearable; it also has “regular” lugs, and so sits under a shirt a little more easily (and avoids door-frames with alacrity, I should add). I did pester a couple of people regarding the examples they owned, but sadly they weren’t going anywhere. Good ones are also pretty hard to find.

I effectively put the search on the back-burner, but by sheer luck happened across a photo on Instragram recently, from the account of a seller in the US who’s pretty well known; it seemed to be a remarkable example, actually, and after a few emails back and forth we’d agreed a deal. The transfer of funds, bank holiday and overseas shipping all took their toll in terms of waiting time, but the package finally arrived yesterday.

The 2446C GMT was first released in 1969, and the original/1st Execution had small subdials, plain steel hands and plain pushers. Later iterations had a variety of changes including red-tipped and partially red-filled hands, fluted pushers and some subtle script differences, and whilst they’re a little difficult to tell apart this is a 4th Execution example, dating from the mid-70’s. It would probably have been sold on a beads of rice bracelet, but it’s come to me on a Corfam-style rally strap, which looks pretty good.

Condition is remarkable, really (which isn’t that surprising, considering that the seller bought it from the original owner who was a retired Heuer watchmaker). The dial is near perfect, and the bezel is virtually unmarked; the case seems to have it’s original sharply-polished finish, and there are just some very faint hairlines to signify that it’s been worn at all. There’s a minor issue with regard to the 24-hour hand, but with a bit of luck I’ll get that sorted over the next week or two. I’m really happy with it, and intend keeping this for the long term, along with my other two remaining vintage watches (the 5513 and Tuna).

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