Undone Urban Vintage Chronograph Watch Review

Swiss racer Jo "Seppi" Siffert, a two-time F1 winner with victories at Daytona, Sebring, and the Targa Florio, is best remembered as a colorful supporting character from an era gone by. But in the world of vintage watches, Siffert's name carries clout. The white-faced Heuer Autavia chronograph he wore—introduced in 1968 and known to horologists as simply "the Siffert"—has become one of the most desirable vintage chronographs available.

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Most Autavias, including the Viceroy models sold for $88 as part of a cigarette promotion, sported black dials. But Siffert's distinctive 1163T model wore a white dial, blue accents, and a tachymeter bezel. Thanks to its rarity (around 1,000 1163Ts were produced) and motorsport connection, it became a cult classic after Siffert's death at Brands Hatch in 1971.

A man of modest means, Siffert famously supported his racing habit by selling Heuer watches to fellow drivers. It was part of a sponsorship deal that brand scion Jack Heuer remembers as "one of the best marketing moves I ever made, since it opened the door to the closed-off world of F1." (Siffert, heavily involved with Porsche, was also a natural salesman; Heuer recalls that, on the day they signed the contract, "he wouldn't let me go home until he sold me a Porsche 911.")

The Siffert Autavia originally sold for between $225 and $250, and a decade ago it could still be had for less than $1,000. A clean original on its Gay Frères "grains of rice" band can now command as much as $10,000, while the earliest versions—the so-called Chronomatics, featuring a unique dial script—can fetch up to $40,000. The model also appeals to those who can afford far more expensive watches: Jerry Seinfeld has been filmed wearing his own Siffert on multiple occasions.

Part of the draw is the unfakeable authenticity. "Chronograph enthusiasts are always looking for a genuine connection to racing," says Jeff Stein, creator of On the Dash, a site dedicated to vintage Heuers. "And the Siffert is one of the watches that the racers were wearing."

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Source : http://www.roadandtrack.com/motorsports/news/a4011/the-watch-to-watch/

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