I've moved

Hi, thanks for dropping by - I've moved over to wordpress and I'm no longer maintaining this one.
Please head over to http://24heuer.com cheers, Andy...

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 :-)

Sunday 5 June 2011

Don't try this @ home! Rolex faded bezel insert.

Fun with bleach...
I enjoy the benefits of the 16800 but still yearned for the retro look of the 1680.
Maybe this could partly be achieved by adding a faded bezel?
So, after much googling I discovered there's a lot of differing opinion out there about replacing the original bezel insert with a faded one.
Hmmmm, this sort of moral highground only makes me more determined :-)
So after sourcing a genuine original insert in a rough state, with matching scrapes and scratches etc.,
relatively cheaply, I decided to have a go at fading it myself.
I'm pretty pleased with the results and it gives a much more casual, washed out look for me.
It's actually turned out a kind of blue/grey colour.
This is how I did it in around an hour start to finish -
(note, sorry but I accept no responsibility if you're mad enough to copy me and it goes badly wrong for you :-))
Firstly I submerged the bezel insert completely in a small amount of household bleach and rough sea salt (no scientific reason why - just made me think of the sun and the sea :-)) for around 10 minutes.
After rinsing completely under a running tap I then wiped it gently with some kitchen paper, removing the lacquered/gloss finish.
It was then dropped into some fresh bleach/salt mix, face down, twice for around 10-15 minutes each time, rinsing again in between.
The only reason I did it twice was to check the results out of the solution - I had it face down, remember...
There's lots of info out there on youtube etc for swapping a bezel insert over so I won't bore you with that but it's a 2 minute job, best performed with the bracelet removed as I discovered last night.
The object of this excerise wasn't to trick anyone into believing it was a tool watch that had worked for nearly 30 years in the sun drenched Indian Ocean, merely to change the look for my own personal taste :-)
I actually don't think the sun and sea could naturally have done the same job on this particular insert in 100 years or more anyway!
Any good? Or, have I commited the ultimate faux-pas?
To be honest I don't care as it's just for fun and no good condition bezels were harmed in the making of this modification :-)