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Autavia Celebration D0: Kyalami to Kenya

As I was born in Africa, these Kenya Airforce Autavias have a special resonance for me, not least thanks to Jeff calling them "shauntavias".

There was some discussion about the watches in earlier posts, and the weight of opinion was pretty much that they were likely Kenya Air Force issued watches. I was very keen to buy them once I saw them, and met the seller, and ended up being convinced.

Of course nothing is certain - somehow I doubt the Kenyan Airforce was as meticulous and organised about military serials as the German Air Force was with it's bunds!

The seller bought these from a guy who spent time in East Africa, and supposedly bought around 8 of them, five or so years ago. I met the seller (not the guy who bought them in Africa) and he seemed really convincing - he is a high end rolex dealer specialising in rare dialed variants; I don't really he see him messing around with Heuers - the price of the watches was a bit high for Heuers but peanuts in the rare rolex world. I actually realised I'd bought a superb monaco from him 3-4 years ago, so the guy has good credibility with me.

The photos are really bad; as the crystals are so scratched it was really hard to get the lighting right for the cases. In reality the watches look great, unpolished cases but heavily worn, and the dials are beautifully faded, especially the 2 reg manual version which has a fantastic brown "tropical" dial. Everything about the watches just looks "right". Movements are fine, not new but not tampered with.

They all have the KAF engraving on the back, which I examined with a 40x geologist's microscope. Under the micrscope you can see that the wear on the case back came after the engraving; so it's sure the engraving were not done recently.

The most interesting of course is the Cal12 with the "shauntavia" style dial. We've never seen anything like it, and I have to admit when I first saw the photo from the seller I thought it was some sort of franken. But I have examined the dial very, very carefully with the 40x microscope and there is no doubt in my mind that it is an original dial. The subdials are interesting, as they have the same finish as in the 7740 shauntavias, it's sort of ivory rather than silver. Really cool dial. The main second hand looks like a replacement, that would be my only criticism.

I'm pretty much convinced the Kenya Air Force story holds up. The cal12 version is really something new for all of us, and I'm convinced it was a prototype or produced in very small numbers, but it certainly it came out of Heuer.

I'm a bit undecided how much to restore the watches, I think I will go for nothing at all, except for crystal replacement as it will be nice to see those incredible dials. I'll keep the original crystals safe just in case I want to get them back to completely unaltered condition.

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