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Fast Times at Le Mans

  • Najib Benouar

Jo Siffert

Nothing makes an iconic watch like sitting on the wrist of a racecar driver. Take, for example, Formula One legend Jo “Seppi” Siffert. By the end of ’68, he’d won the British Grand Prix, earned a seat at the lead driver’s wheel for Porsche, sped into the history books by winning the 24-hour Daytona and 12-hour Sebring endurance races within weeks of one another, and picked up the sponsorship of Heuer watches.

At the time, Heuer was the watch brand for racecar drivers, and Siffert was to be the face of their newly launched automatic Autavia (built for auto-racers and aviators). He was partial to the white dial with black registers—and even though many different versions of the ref 1163 were made subsequently, the only one regarded as a “Jo Siffert” is this colorway, which we’ve managed to dig up here. We have to agree—it’s a looker. And, paired with this summery racing band, it’s still right on trend nearly half a century later.

For those looking closely, you may have noticed something a bit off-kilter. The winding crown has migrated to the opposite side of the case, due to Heuer’s addition of a new automatic movement. The result is an inadvertently left-handed watch. And if you happen to be southpaw, it’s one of the better options out there.

Just like all great sport-hero stories, this one ended tragically—in 1971, on the very track he’d first gained notoriety—but he left quite a legacy: starting with Steve McQueen’s biographical racetrack opus Le Mans. And more importantly, he taught righties how it feels to have the shoe on the other foot.

And by “shoe” and “foot”, we mean: watch and wrist.