Tag Heuer produce a wide range of specialised sports watches, with dedicated racing chronographs, regatta timers and even connected watches in their wheelhouse. But when it comes to their heritage the fact they’re most proud of is Edouard Heuer’s patent for the first ever watertight case in history in 1892 – in other words, the first timepiece with dive capabilities. Over a century later they’ve announced their newest diving watch at Watches & Wonders, the Tag Heuer Aquaracer Professional 300.
While the brand’s history is long and storied, the Aquaracer model itself can only be traced back to 2004. It combined the principles from several previous watches like the Ref 844 to create a new high quality all-round aquatic sports watch. The new version, the Aquaracer Professional 300 (don’t think we haven’t noticed the cheeky reference to the Omega Seamaster and Seamaster 300) is visually similar to its predecessor with a few added refinements.
The 12-sided bezel now comes with a ceramic insert for added durability and the crown is now 12-sided as well, creating a pleasing sense of cohesion. On the same note, eight of the hour markers are now eight-sided to emphasise the faceted shapes.
The biggest difference between the new version and the original is the placement of the date window which is now at 6 o’clock in line with modern Tags. The sapphire crystal above the date has also been given the magnified ‘cyclops’ treatment for improved readability without affecting the smooth outer surface of the crystal.
Another small change is the proportions of the hands – the hour hand has been widened and the minute hand narrowed to create a greater distinction between the two. The hands and hour markers are also coated in Superluminova for extra legibility, green glowing for the hour hand and hour markers, blue glowing for the minute hand.
The three styles available at both sizes feature stainless steel cases that are water resistant up to 30 bar (300m), with a blue, black or steel wave pattern dial. The steel and black versions have a black ceramic bezel and the blue version has a blue ceramic bezel – all featuring white dive timers on the bezel. Of the six standard options my favourite is the blue, in either size, because you might as well go all out on the water theme. However, the seventh, special edition is the standout option.
The last piece in the range is a titanium version with a matt finish and a green dial with matching green bezel. An extra detail is that the arrow at 12 o’clock on the bezel is picked out in yellow. Green is a popular colour with watchmakers at the moment but rather than going for an intense emerald or military fatigue style olive, the shade Tag has opted for is somewhere in the middle. It gives the piece a unique aesthetic within the collection, fitting a more exploration and adventure, quasi-military role rather than straightforward diving.
All the watches feature the Tag Heuer Calibre 5 automatic mechanical movement, which is a solid movement in general, although the approximate 38-hour power reserve is a little lacking for a top end sports watch. Hiding the movement is a solid caseback with an engraving of a classic diving suit called the scaphander, which has been given a 12-sided faceplate in honour of the distinctive Aquaracer shape. The watches all come on integrated bracelets with an in-built adjustment system for ease of use.
As an extra treat, there is also the Aquaracer Professional 300 Tribute to Ref. 844, a limited-edition variation that is heavily inspired by the original 844 from 1978. It combines a titanium case with a flat black dial and faithfully recreated red 24-hour scale. With its vintage lume and overall retro aesthetic, it complements the other releases while paying homage to Tag’s heritage and may well be the coolest of the bunch.
Looking at the standard models there’s very little that will immediately differentiate them from the original Aquaracers from 2004, but when you get hands on with them you’ll appreciate what has been changed. They’re overall lighter and slimmer, making them more ergonomic to wear and the layout of the dial is much more readable because of the tiny adjustments. Would I go for one of these over a Seamaster 300 or even the new Tribute to Ref. 844, probably not, but it wouldn’t be as easy to decide as you may think.
Price & Specs:
Model: Tag Heuer Aquaracer Professional 300
Case/Dial: 36mm or 43mm diameter, stainless steel or special edition matt Grade 5 titanium, 12-sided bezel
Movement: Tag Heuer Calibre 5, automatic, 26 jewels
Water Resistance: 300m (30 bar)
Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
Power Reserve: 38h
Functions: Hour, minute and seconds hands, date display at 6 o’clock
Strap: Integrated steel or titanium three-link bracelet
Price/Availability: £2,350 (36mm, stainless steel), £2,500 (43mm, stainless steel), £3,500 (titanium and green) and £3,600 (Tribute to Ref. 844 limited edition, limited to 844 pieces)
More details at Tag Heuer.