TAG Heuer might be best known for classic chronographs, but the brand has strong form when it comes to divers too. The brand first dipped its toes into dive watch waters in 1978, with the reference 844. For many, though, the iconic TAG Heuer diver is the Aquaracer, a design that has taken the familiar dive watch formula and made it all its own. “Historically when Heuer became TAG Heuer, the brand was rebuilt almost exclusively on dive watches. I’m talking about the series 1000, 2000 and up to 6000 and then the S/EL — the Link. These watches all had a number of key features, a unidirectional bezel, luminous markings, screw-in crown, double folding clasp, 300 metres of water resistance. These are the features that were typical to dive watches and the collection was built on that,” says Frédéric Arnault, CEO of TAG Heuer.
While some of those legendary transitional designs, like the black PVD and gold Series 1000 diver – or the even more distinctive version with a fully luminous dial – worn by Timothy Dalton in his turn as Bond in 1987’s The Living Daylights, haven’t made it into TAG Heuer’s catalogue yet, the core principles of what makes a TAG Heuer dive watch remains the same. The bezel, the bracelet, the robust build. It’s all very much in evidence, but as Frédéric Arnault explains, for the latest iteration introduced this year, the focus has really been on refining the Aquaracer, as a way for the brand to grow its market share in the fiercely contested dive watch space. “It is part of who we are now, and we need to reinforce that story. Our play is to continue to refine and improve the quality, to continue to differentiate the design with the codes that make the TAG Heuer Aquaracer unique — we really worked on these codes and the quality,” says Arnault.
The first generation Aquaracers (2004) offered a 300 meter depth rating, while the next generation (introduced in 2009) increased this to 500 meters. The Aquaracers have used an enormous variety of materials, colors and movements, all designed to provide the diver with a highly-legible, reliable watch. The Aquaracer feels powerful in a totally essential way, meaning that it is devoid of any superfluous design details. Every single element of the watch has both an aesthetic and a functional purpose. And on top of that, in a world where everyone seems determined to make facsimiles of vintage watches, there is a wonderfully modern and original sensibility to these watches in recent years. “Bold and yet elegant, high-functioning and yet versatile, it’s a highly robust watch that goes beyond the edge and sets a new high watermark for ergonomic, high-performance mechanical watches. Designed for work and play, and to soak up nature’s harshest challenges, it’s a pure symbol of TAG Heuer’s adventurous, avant-garde spirit,” says Arnault.
What do we like best about the looks of the new Aquaracer? We love that there are straight lines in the entire design of the watch. Which is precisely the opposite of every other dive watch in the world that is characterized by a round dial, round indexes, a round bezel, often a lollipop seconds hand and, of course, a round case. Says Frédéric Arnault, “With its striking, instantly recognisable aesthetic, epitomised by the Aquaracer’s signature 12-sided bezel, and high specification, it’s entirely contemporary, and yet it recalls a legacy that TAG Heuer began more than 40 years ago.”
This week we have added two Aquaracer models to our shop. One of them has a handsome black dial and matching bezel with almost everything you need in a sporty diver. The 43mm steel case offers plenty of presence, and the fact that the ceramic bezel is angular is a nice touch. Legibility isn’t an issue as both the hands and the applied markers have ample amounts of luminous material, and the trapezoidal shape of the yellow-tipped seconds hand is a nice touch. Fitted on a versatile steel bracelet and powered by the ever-reliable Calibre 5 movement and rated to 300M, this Aquaracer is dive ready. The watch comes with its original set of box and papers and a two-year warranty from Watchfinder.
The other Aquaracer model in our shop is from 2016. The horizontally striped dial is very much present and looks great in a rich, almost royal, blue. Rated to 500M and boasting a helium escape valve and solid dive bracelet this is a distinctive take on a classic dive watch. This particular piece too comes with its original set of box and papers and a two-year warranty from Watchfinder.