HEUER, REF. 1163, AUTAVIA “SIFFERT”, A HISTORICALLY IMPORTANT CHRONOGRAPH WRISTWATCH, GIFTED TO THE ORIGINAL OWNER BY STEVE MCQUEEN DURING THE FILMING OF LE MANS IN 1970
HEUER, REF. 1163, AUTAVIA “SIFFERT”, A HISTORICALLY IMPORTANT CHRONOGRAPH WRISTWATCH, GIFTED TO THE ORIGINAL OWNER BY STEVE MCQUEEN DURING THE FILMING OF LE MANS IN 1970
HEUER, REF. 1163, AUTAVIA “SIFFERT”, A HISTORICALLY IMPORTANT CHRONOGRAPH WRISTWATCH, GIFTED TO THE ORIGINAL OWNER BY STEVE MCQUEEN DURING THE FILMING OF LE MANS IN 1970
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HEUER, REF. 1163, AUTAVIA “SIFFERT”, A HISTORICALLY IMPORTANT CHRONOGRAPH WRISTWATCH, GIFTED TO THE ORIGINAL OWNER BY STEVE MCQUEEN DURING THE FILMING OF LE MANS IN 1970
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PROVENANCE: Family of the Original Owner
HEUER, REF. 1163, AUTAVIA “SIFFERT”, A HISTORICALLY IMPORTANT CHRONOGRAPH WRISTWATCH, GIFTED TO THE ORIGINAL OWNER BY STEVE MCQUEEN DURING THE FILMING OF LE MANS IN 1970

Details
HEUER, REF. 1163, AUTAVIA “SIFFERT”, A HISTORICALLY IMPORTANT CHRONOGRAPH WRISTWATCH, GIFTED TO THE ORIGINAL OWNER BY STEVE MCQUEEN DURING THE FILMING OF LE MANS IN 1970

CIRCA: 1970s
CASE MATERIAL: Steel
CASE DIAMETER: 42mm
CASE NO’: 203847
DIAL: White with Black Subdials   
MOVEMENT: Automatic
FUNCTIONS: Date, Chronograph
BOX: No
PAPERS: No
ACCESSORIES: Jacket signed by Ray Summers, Essay written by Jean Summers, Photos of Ray Summers and Steve McQueen, Steve McQueen: The Cooler King written by Richard Sydenham, A French Kiss with Death written by Michael Keyser

Lot Essay

Tag Heuer reference 1163T with “Jo Siffert” colors is among the most popular and iconic of vintage Autavia models today. Heuer was the watch of choice for many Formula 1 Grand Prix drivers in the 1960’s and 1970’s and the “Siffert”, with its bright white dial and blue accents, was so named because Jo Siffert was often seen and pictured wearing this reference and color configuration.

The present lot, Autavia reference 1163T “Jo Siffert” bearing serial 203847, with its second execution dial is a particularly charismatic and important example because in 1971, following the wrap of filming for Le Mans, this watch was given to Ray Summers by Steve McQueen as a token of his appreciation for Ray’s friendship and hard work on the film.

According to Jean, Ray and Steve had been friends for years prior to filming Le Mans. Living only a few canyons apart in the Hollywood Hills, they spent many a night running one another around the hills to this party or that one, and considering their appreciation for speed there’s no question these were spirited evenings and early mornings. As the cast and crew was coming together for Le Mans, Steve asked Ray to be in charge of all costumes for the film and Ray agreed immediately. According to Ray’s wife Jean and memorialized in a letter which accompanies the present lot, “Ray happily agreed – living in France for an extended period and working with his good friend sounded ideal to Ray. A big job but one he tackled with his usual enthusiasm – just thinking about all the pretty actresses he would meet and being around some of the best race car drivers in the world. It was a win win!”

Consigned by the wife of the original owner, Jean H. Summers, and accompanied by a wonderful photograph of her late husband Ray wearing the watch on the set of Le Mans in France, a letter from Jean detailing the history of the watch, a rare “Solar Productions” (McQueen’s production company) jacket which belonged to Ray, as well as a copy of A French Kiss With Death by Michael Keyser and Steve McQueen : The Cooler King by Richard Sydenham.

As far as provenance is concerned, it truly doesn’t get much better. An already iconic Autavia “Jo Siffert” elevated exponentially because of its airtight connection to Le Mans, given by Steve McQueen to his friend Ray Summers.

A Letter From Jean Summers
"To Whom it May Concern:
Re: Tag Heuer Siffert watch
Reference number 1163
Serial number 203847

My late husband, Ray Summers, worked in Hollywood as a costume designer/wardrobe supervisor. Ray worked with many directors but most notable were John Frankenheimer, Billy Friedkin, Richard Brooks, Carl Reiner, and Sam Peckinpah. Ray has screen credit on more than 35 television episodes and 47 feature films. A few examples of his wok are Prime Cut (Lee Marvin and Gene Hackman), Damien Omen II, Zabriskie Point, Black Sunday, Wrong is Right (Sean Connery), Edward Scissorhands (Johnny Depp), Petulia (Julie Christie & George C. Scott), and, of course, Le Mans and the Getaway (Steve McQueen).

Ray and Steve McQueen were good friends both on and off the movie set. Prior to getting married, Ray lived in Nichols Canyon in the Hollywood Hills and Steve lived in the next canyon over. They were about 10 driving minutes apart which turned out to be very convenient when they would party until the late hours which was frequently. A quick drive home and nobody was the wiser! Steve asked Ray to be in charge of all the costumes for his movies Le Mans. Ray happily agreed – living in France for an extended period and working with his good friend sounded ideal to Ray. A big job but one he tackled with his usual enthusiasm – just thinking about all the pretty accesses he would meet and being around some of the best race car drivers in the world. It was a win win!

One fun story about Le Mans was written about in the book “A French Kiss With Death”

“While Jabby was able to talk various companies into contributing racing apparel, property manager Don Nunley and costumer Ray Summers had their hands full keeping the props from “walking off” with the extras/ There was always a friend or a nephew or a sister who wanted a Ferrari or Porsche Jacket, and many of them figured the clothing wouldn’t be missed. They were wrong/ On July 30 Summers issued a memo in English, French, German, and Italian that read: Due to the fact that starting Monday, August 3rd, we will be filming in the pits, duplicating the start of the race using a large number of people, to fulfill our costume requirements it is absolutely imperative that those people who have “borrowed” promotional jackets and/or overalls (such as Gulf, Firestone, Ferrari, etc.) return them to the Wardrobe Department Immediately.

When this didn’t work, extras were told if they didn’t return the clothing they’d been given at the end of each day’s shoot, they wouldn’t work on the film again. This helped reduce pilfering but didn’t put a stop to it.”

At the end of the show Steve gave the crew of Solar Productions which numbered around 14 people, the Heuer watch as a thank you for the hard work and loyalty to Steve during the film. Ray put away his old Hamilton watch and wore the Heuer every day for 11 years. I gave Ray a Rolex for his 50th birthday which he wore for the remainder of his life. Ray retired at age 62 to live out his years of Malibu Beach enjoying our time together as well as two Giant Schnauzers, Alli and Bogie. Ray passed away in early 2021 at age 88 but not before touring the world and enjoying many a fishing trip to Cabo San Lucas and relaxing on the beautiful beaches."
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