Heuer Autavia 2446C (Valjoux Cal. 72)…
Kicking off 2013 is this Heuer Autavia 2446C from 1969.
(Click pictures to enlarge)
The name Autavia is short for ‘Auto-Aviation’ which combined Heuer’s two main markets at the time; timing devices for motorsports, and cockpit instruments for civil and military aircraft. Released in 1962, the Autavia was the first Heuer chronograph with the model name printed on the dial. Many more were to follow, the Monaco, Carrera and Silverstone, to name just a few.
The watch in this post is the third execution of the 2446, and in many ways was a re-design, as the earlier versions had lumed rather than applied dial markers, dauphine hands, and the chronograph subdials were much larger. The case too was different, as it had much thinner lugs.
The ‘C’ in the 2446C model number denotes that the case has a snap back or compression caseback as opposed to the screwed back seen on many of the earlier versions. The caseback on this watch wasn’t too bad as the Autavia name and Heuer shield were still legible. It isn’t uncommon to see these watches with a caseback that has worn completely smooth – or is hideously scratched as these cases aren’t easy to open, even with the right tools.
Though the watch was in reasonable cosmetic condition, there were several issues to address. The outer bezel was in poor shape, with obvious wear to the outer edge, all the way down to the markings in places. The lume had also deteriorated significantly over the years, and would all need to be renewed.
Things inside looked much better, as the movement, a Valjoux cal. 72, was in good shape and with no obvious signs of mishandling or corrosion.
With the watch out of the case the deterioration of the lume on the hour markers and hands was clear to see. All of the old lume would need to be carefully removed before the new lume could be applied.
There was one issue with the movement as watch would only tick for a few seconds when shaken and wouldn’t wind, so there was definitely a problem with the winding mechanism which would need further investigation.
With the movement stripped for servicing, the problem was very quickly uncovered as several teeth were missing from the ratchet wheel. A new wheel was the only solution here.
Thankfully there were no other issues, so with the ratchet wheel replaced and the rest of the movement cleaned and oiled, everything was looking good, and working perfectly again.
As bezels for the 2446C are much in demand these days, I knew that finding a ‘new old stock’ bezel to replace the current one would be hard (and expensive!) The one I found was much better condition than the original, it still has some wear around the edges, but is in-keeping with the rest of the watch.
After reassembling the watch, the case was cleaned, a new crystal installed, and a new strap finished the job.