An Attainable Autavia, A Multicolored Mido

For many, it's a difficult time of uncertainty. But, do yourself a favor, and allow yourself a brief diversion amidst all the unrest. We've got a great selection of watches to take your mind off it all this week, including an early Autavia from Heuer, and a two-register Breitling in top condition. For the dive watch aficionados, this is a roundup you won't want to miss, with a perfect Scafograf 300, a colorful Mido Power wind, and the nicest Submariner you'll see in a good long while.
If you hadn't already heard, Steve McQueen Replica Watches never wore an early Explorer II, and his association with the watch is the stuff of vintage watch-collecting Apocrypha. However, he most certainly did wear a Ref. 5512 configured like so – even if he didn't age as attractively as today's example.

Upon first seeing this example, I knew right away that it deserved a spot in this week's roundup. Hunting down a truly great Submariner is anything but an easy task, often taking considerably longer than that of other Rolex sports models. To maximize your quarantine down-time, don't bother searching high and low, just look in the direction of this example from 1966.
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As the two extra lines of text on its dial would suggest, this example of the Ref. 5512 is powered by the COSC-certified Cal. 1570, which can be confirmed by inspecting its movement shot. While some are quick to quip about the amount of text on certain Rolex dials, I personally view the ability to add additional text with confidence as a testament to the strength of the Submariner's design. It remains as appealing and iconic as ever, even when complicated. Making matters more compelling is the fact that these added lines of certification-touting text were applied in silver, adding an extra degree of dimension to an already multi-faceted watch.
Another reason to like this example, and perhaps a less obvious one, is the material used for its luminous applications. The bulk of the four-line, gilt dials make use of radium, whereas this piece is illuminated using the far less radioactive compound of tritium. This not only makes this version of the reference a rarity within Submariner collecting but also affords a little peace of mind. With a Geiger counter reading similar to that of a banana (yes, bananas are technically radioactive), it's a little easier for the hypochondriacally inclined to sleep at night with a tritium watch by their bedside.

Jacek Kozubek of Tropical Watch has this outstanding Submariner listed on his site for $56,850. Get in touch by Just last week, I had the pleasure of visiting a good friend within the industry who's now at Sotheby's. Prior to bringing out a few trays of goodies to drool over, my friend was showing two Heuer's to a client, which I was asked to inspect. The watches checked out and then some, but it was the state of the brand's current market which really got the three of us talking. In my personal opinion, there's never been a better time to buy a Heuer, as their pricing is now stable and not inflated by those who were previously looking to turn a quick profit amidst a bout of hype. Examples are attainable, and noteworthy ones at that, which this next piece most definitely is.
Despite comparisons, early Autavias are radically different watches than Daytonas of the same vintage. Sure, they've both got ties to motorsport and are powered by Valjoux 72's, but the former of the two models has considerably more going on in the funk department. With their oversized registers, contrasting typefaces, and bold luminous applications, more character factored into their design, yielding a perhaps less timeless though more lively watch. Nevertheless, 1960s Autavias have aged incredibly well, and the one we're breaking down today is no exception.
This is my favorite variant of the early Autavias, featuring a first execution case and dial, traced by a second execution handset. Though the entirely lumed, dauphine-shaped hands seen on the Ref. 2446's earliest iteration are a sight to see, these ever so slightly later hands are arguably less fragile and give the watch a more premium appearance. Condition wise, it's clean, but not in a questionable way that inspires skepticism. Honest watches will generally have a few insignificant blemishes, like the minimal wear seen on the big-eye registers and bezel insert. Most importantly, the hands and hour markings have aged to an even tone and also react evenly under a UV-light. For those who have yet to get familiarized with the wonders of a black light, this sort of reaction speaks to their originality.