The other week, I had the opportunity to wear a Heuer Autavia 1163V “Viceroy” for a few days, borrowed from Crown & Caliber’s Heuer 100 auction. An iconic watch with a great story, they are highly sought after, though still “relatively” affordable as far as the vintage market goes. We’ve covered Autavias before, though an earlier model, the 2446C. This specific version of the Autavia, the 1163V, came out in 1972 and was available for just $88 through a promotion via Viceroy cigarettes. It differs in a few ways from other 1163’s, namely featuring a tachymeter bezel and full numerals on the hour sub-dial, but the general design and coloring remained the same.
I’ve come across them before, though never had the chance to really wear one. Honestly, they never really called out to me, especially when placed on a table next to other 60’s/70’s chronographs. They lacked the refinement of Carreras, the style of Speedmasters or the unadulterated cool of Universal Geneve Compaxes. They’re big and clunky with barrel cases and almost plain dials. This initially made them seem perhaps too modern, but it’s this very detail that actually makes them so appealing in the end.
They are very modern watches, way ahead of their time. In fact, if a brand came out with a design like that today, disregarding the left side crown, you wouldn’t bat an eye. At 42mm, with a tall, chunky bezel, they are hefty and solid. The overall barrel shape gives it an aggressive presence, while a mix of brushing and polishing adds some needed elegance. The inverse panda dial lacks fussy details, instead focusing on legibility and symmetry. The hints of red on the outer index and hands adds all of the personality its needs. Just a touch of excitement in something otherwise stoic and purpose built.
Combined with an original Gay Freres beads of rice bracelet, it’s a stylish, albeit very masculine watch. It worked nicely for a larger watch on my 7” wrist, especially for an automatic chronograph. Thanks to the case having several sections and the mid-case curving, it didn’t seem very tall, a common issue with chronos. Aesthetically, the automotive sport styling looks great with my normal work wear attire of jeans and oxford and boots. The beads of rice bracelet, not something I would have normally been attracted to either, added some cool texture and refinement to the package.
I wore it (admittedly lightly as it was borrowed and valuable) for a few days and it quickly grew on me. It’s just an easy sport watch to wear, and while on the table not the most exciting watch ever, on the wrist a unique and stylish piece. Watches these days might try to capture the cool of 60’s and 70’s watches, but it was the very lack of trying that made them the way they are. Know one knew they were making icons, they just did. The fact that a few of the details that make this watch work came about to differentiate it for a cigarette brand just adds to the spontaneous and accidental nature of these designs. No focus groups, no “vote for your favorite” campaigns.
These days 1163Vs are pretty available on the vintage market, with price tags in the $3,500+ range. Not quite affordable, but not bad for a Heuer/vintage classic. So, if you’re looking for an iconic watch with a story but aren’t trying to spend a ton, they are a decent option. And, as said, they wear like a solid modern watch, which not all 40 year old watches can claim. Thanks again to Crown & Caliber for letting me try this one out. Now enjoy the gallery!