We first saw the new TAG Heuer Autavia collection at Baselworld 2019, when it was the main focus of the brand. At the time the new collection not only came with some aesthetic highlights, including vintage styling, bronze case options and various colours of fume dials, it also came with the innovative carbon composite hairspring called the ISOGRAPH.

A close up look at the carbon-composite hairspring in the TAG Heuer Autavia ISOGRAPH.

One of the first models of the new TAG Heuer Autavia collection launched in Baselworld 2019. This green dial variant comes with a bronze case.

At the moment, there is no official word yet on when the innovative ISOGRAPH carbon hairspring will be launched in a watch, but suffice it to say, the rest of the parts of the TAG Heuer Autavia collection, including the aesthetic details and the Calibre 5 chronometer grade movement, (Sellita SW200) have made it through to the market.

The TAG Heuer Autavia CNY 2020 Year of the Rat Special Edition might not be a metier d’arts laden masterpiece – we should not expect that from TAG Heuer after-all – but it does have enough aesthetic touches – courtesy of the design vocabulary of the collection, to make it work.

Combining the elements of the watches from TAG Heuer, the Autavia in this iteration is meant to unite the diving (with the bezel), pilot’s (with the oversized crown) and motorsport collections together into one watch. The attempt largely succeeds, and what we have is a well sized 42mm watch, in a range of case materials, strap options (including a stainless steel bracelet) and enough of a vintage style to differentiate itself from the more technically oriented designs normally seen from the brand.

The first thing to note is that the dial makes use of the fumé pattern that is a signature of the collection, coloured red here for Chinese New Year, a good match to the red calfskin leather strap that it comes on. Then there is the Chinese “鼠” character that replaces the index at 1 o’clock. The “鼠” character, (which means “rat” in English) and the other Arabic numeral indexes incidentally all glow in the dark, which is quite a sight to behold at night.Round the back, there is an engraving of a rat, wearing old school driving goggles and holding a steering wheel, a fitting tribute to the motor racing roots of TAG Heuer.

Lastly, the case is in bronze, a choice of material that fits into the vintage styling overall, and that helps to give the watch its own patina and character after being worn for some time. This example here, has had some time on the wrist and so has developed a very attractive patina on the case.

The watch is limited to 50 pieces, and will only be available from TAG Heuer boutiques, the online flagship store, and selected retailers.