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Sunday 26 June 2011

Siffert Autavia 1163t, v1.2?

Siffert 1163t, v1.2?So here's my latest arrival, a Siffert Autavia, so-named after Swiss racing driver Jo Siffert, Seppi, who favoured the 1st 'CHRONOMATIC' version.
Let's see what we've got -
1st thing that strikes you is the 3-6-9-12 subdial - just like the chronomatic - must be early then?
Then there are the polished hands.
But wait a minute - these have a black stripe down the centre.
Hmmm, that's interesting...
Hey look again at the markers - these aren't the chronomatic style with horizontal ribs - these ones are long, polished and with a stripe down the centre.
'AUTAVIA' has a flat bottomed 'V' which is generally associated with the early versions.
Looking inside reveals a nice calibre 11 movement.
Between the lugs of the relatively unchuncky Piquarez case, at 12 we have an engraved, not stamped, '1163', another early feature?
At 6 the serial number, again engraved, beginning 22...
Oops, hang on a minute, 22 isn't early, or is it?
I've seen 14* 3-6-9-12 Sifferts and 25* 1,2,3,4...Sifferts but never a 22* Autavia of any flavour.
It's widely acknowledged through anecdotal evidence etc that the white dial with blue accent 'Sifferts' were made in very small numbers between 1969 and 1972, shortly after the death of Jo Siffert who was sadly killed in his BRM during the world championship race @ Brands Hatch in October 1971.
This is pretty much backed up by the quantity that come up for sale these days in relation to other Autavias etc.
Strange then that there seem to be so many versions.
Working forwards from the chronomatic - if we call that v0.1.
These chronomatic versions are regarded as prototypes, extremely rare and as such command a very high premium.
Then there is the v1.1 - same dial configuration, markers and hands as the chronomatic but without the $20000 'CHRONOMATIC' text - a true production model.
The word 'AUTAVIA' moves to the top, the vacated space
above the date now contains 'AUTOMATIC CHRONOGRAPH'.
I've seen both Piquarez and Schmitz cased models of this version but that's another story :-)

So, I guess this one could be considered the v1.2 to indicate the minor changes of the hands and hour markers?
Next up could be the 1,2,3,4...subdial version with blue striped/tipped hands and pointed 'V', v2.1?
Interestingly there's another identical model for sale just now, even down to the striped hands and 22* serial number.
So, absolutely genuine and probably a transitional model - in fact as there appear to be up to 5 incarnations of the Siffert in such a short timespan, maybe they're all transitionals :-)

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