TAG Heuer Aquaracer: Why this Underdog Deserves the Limelight

Tag Heuer Aquaracer

Admit it. When you hear the watch brand TAG Heuer, the first things that pop into your head are the Carrera or Monaco. In fact, if you’re not a big fan, you might not have heard of the TAG Heuer Aquaracer before.

But don’t worry, it’s not your fault. The Aquaracer is, indeed, an underdog that deserves more recognition. Despite being less popular, it has a very interesting history that every watch lover should know. Read on to find more about TAG Heuer’s iconic sports watch.

History of the TAG Heuer Aquaracer

The Aquaracer’s Ancestor

If you were to look at the TAG Heuer Aquaracer’s family tree, you would discover that it is related to the TAG Heuer 2000 series, one of the brand’s early collections of dive watches.

Legend has it that in the ’70s, a lot of people were frustrated with the lack of watches for underwater sports. Upon hearing their plights, Jack Heuer made it his mission to produce his own set of dive watches. He was well aware that his company specialised in motorsports. However, he recognises the similarities between the two niches. Both require the same amount of accuracy, durability, and affordability.

With that goal in mind, Heuer set off to create what would be a big part of the TAG Heuer brand. Together with a reliable French supplier called Monnin, they started developing their dive watch. The product was the Heuer Diver Professional. To their surprise, the reception was incredible. And after only a year, TAG Heuer started offering their dive watches in a variety of sizes and dial layouts.

Tag Heuer 2000 Series, Tag Heuer Aquaracer Watches
photo from calibre11.com

Generation 1 of the 2000 Series

From the previous dive watch collection, TAG Heuer branched out and produced the newer 2000 series. The main goal was to improve upon the previous models in terms of movement.

To distinguish the new from the old, they asked for help from designer Eddie Schopfer. Firstly, they upgraded the jubilee bracelet. Secondly and most importantly, they did a makeover of the bezel. The old model looked a lot like the Rolex Submariner so they changed it to give the diver its own personality.

As a result, the 2000 series had a more modern aesthetic. While distinct, it still shared a few characteristics with its predecessor. Elements such as the crown guard and the “Mercedes-Benz” hands were still present. Additionally, it was the first TAG Heuer watch to follow the Six Features. The Six Features was the ideology that guided the brand’s style for years. But we’ll get to that later.

TAG Heuer 2000 Exclusive

The Tag Heuer 2000 Exclusive is the closest to the modern Aquaracers in terms of design. Case in point, the watch featured large Arabic numerals at the 6, 9, and 12 o’clock positions. It also had a new hand design and a larger bezel. Up to now, the bezel design is still being used for other TAG Heuer models.

TAG Heuer Aquagraph

The Tag Heuer Aquagraph is part of the Specialist 2000 series. To explain, the collection consists of three niche models. And as its name suggests, the Aquagraph was made for serious divers.

Despite being phased out, this watch is one of the most reliable models of the brand. Some fans even claim that it is the best TAG Heuer dive watch ever made. In fact, it is water-resistant up to 500 metres! That resistance rating is considered above average.

Aside from that, it features the Dubois-Depraz chronograph module and the Calibre 60 movement. It also has a unique dial design.

To conclude, it is an outstanding watch despite its short period of availability. On the positive side, it became one of the inspirations for the TAG Heuer Aquaracer’s design.

Tag Heuer 2000 Aquaracer
photo from calibre11.com

TAG Heuer 2000 Aquaracer

In 2004, TAG Heuer made a major upgrade on the series. The result was the 2000 Aquaracer. The new model had a coloured aluminium bezel and a refreshed dial design.

To appeal to a wider audience, the model was available in both quartz and automatic versions. The quartz-powered model came in a smaller 38mm case. Meanwhile, the automatic was a bit larger with a 41mm steel case. Another unique thing about this model was its lume-filled round hour markers.

This was the first time that the brand used the name Aquaracer. And after only a year, they decided to drop the “2000”, marking the end of the series and the start of a new one. As the popular saying goes, “when one door closes, another one opens”.

1st GENERATION (2005-2009)

The company’s decision to rebrand the 2000 series was meant to provide more premium watches. Without a doubt, the finishing and materials of the new watches were a huge upgrade. In addition, they wanted to produce more mechanical watches than quartz.

Below are some of the notable models that belong to the first generation of the TAG Heuer Aquaracer.

Aquaracer Calibre 16 Chronograph, TAG Heuer Aquaracer
Photo from calibre11.com

1. TAG Heuer Aquaracer Calibre 16 Chronograph

There are two versions of the Aquaracer Calibre 16 Chronograph. The first one had a 41mm case and came out in 2005. Additionally, it came in three colour options: black, blue and silver.

On the other hand, the second version came out a year after. But this time, it had a day and date feature whereas the first one only had the date. It’s also bigger at 43mm.

TAG Heuer Aquaracer Quartz
Photo from calibre11.com

2. TAG Heuer Aquaracer Quartz

The TAG Heuer Aquaracer Quartz was the most similar to the 2000 series models when it comes to the design. While it retained the old models’ basic shape, it had an upgraded dial, hands, and bezel. Furthermore, it had another version which features a 300m 1/10th chronograph.

To distinguish them from the mechanical versions, the quartz models bore a coloured version of the logo. Meanwhile, the former features the monochrome logo of TAG Heuer. 

Tag Heuer Aquaracer Automatic
Photo from calibre11.com

3. TAG Aquaracer Automatic

What’s interesting about this model is the use of the Clous de Paris dial pattern. This was borrowed from the automatic 2000 series. The pattern on the dial may be the same, but the hands, hour markers, and the bezel were all upgraded.

Lastly, every watch in this range uses the Calibre 5 movement, although it is not indicated on the dial. 

2nd GENERATION (2009-2012)

The 2nd generation of the TAG Heuer Aquaracer can be divided into two groups: one had the traditional design, while the other was more modern.

TAG Heuer 2nd Generation Aquaracer 500m
photo from calibre11.com

1. TAG Heuer Aquaracer 500m

As mentioned above, the TAG Heuer Aquaracer 2nd Generation was split in two. And the modern variation was called the Aquaracer 500m.

The Aquaracer 500m was meant to fill the void that the discontinued Aquagraph left behind. With that said, it has the same water-resistance rating as the phased out model, which was 500 metres. This was a welcome improvement as the standard depth rating for the Aquaracer is only 300 metres.

In terms of aesthetics, this watch has a modern feel to it. The watch designers did away with the curves of the 2000 Series and focused on a more angular case. Its bezel, which is rubber-ridged, has metal numerals all over it. Lastly, they added a cyclops on the 9 o’clock position to make reading the date easier.

Aquaracer 500m
photo from calibre11.com

2. TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300m

Staying on the safe side, TAG Heuer released a classic version alongside the Aquaracer 500m. This was meant for nostalgic people who prefer the traditional style of the 2000 Series.

The TAG Heuer Aquaracer 2nd Generation 300m series offered a variety of watches. There are quartz and mechanical 3-hand versions. As well as a Calibre 16 Chronograph and Grand Date models.

3rd GENERATION (2012-2014)

Tag Heuer Aquaracer 500m Watches
Photo from calibre11.com

1. TAG Heuer Aquaracer 500m

In 2012, the horology world witnessed a second wave of the TAG Heuer Aquaracer 500m. This time, the new version had a minor facelift.

A few things that made this model different is the deeper caseback and the new ceramic bezel insert. Some even claim that it was the first time TAG Heuer used a ceramic bezel insert for the series.

Comparing the two generations side by side will make the differences obvious. For one, the successor is not as bold as its predecessor. It bid farewell to the aspects that made the earlier version unique and took a more traditional approach.

The new look divided the fans. Those who preferred the classic styling loved it while those who appreciated boldness and uniqueness were disappointed.

Tag Heuer Aquaracer Chronograph Calibre 16 and Calibre 72
Photo from calibre11.com

2. TAG Heuer Chronograph Calibre 16 and Calibre 72

Along with the new Aquaracer 500m came the Chronograph Calibre 16 and Calibre 72 Countdown Chronograph. Both of these models used a 43mm steel case.

In addition to that, both of the timepieces also feature simple dials despite being chronographs. Indeed, the sub-dials are of the same colour as the whole dial, making them blend well with the whole face of the watch.

4th GENERATION (2014-present)

The most recent generation of the TAG Heuer Aquaracer brought a lot of changes to the series. For one, the company ended the bloodline of the Aquaracer 500m variation. Another change is the newly-designed bezel of the watches.

Instead of pointy ends, the bezel of the 4th generation of the Aquaracer 300m has a flat finish. In addition to that, its triangle-shaped indices and hands were slightly larger. The watch was available in two bezel options  steel or coloured ceramic.

Tag Heuer Aquaracer 300m Calibre 5 Steel Bezel
Photo from calibre11.com

1. TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300m Calibre 5 Steel Bezel

The Aquaracer 300m Calibre 5 with steel bezel was the first member of the 4th generation and it was introduced in 2014. Its steel case, which is made out of a combination of brushed and polished finishes, is slightly smaller at 40.5mm.

Its dial featured a horizontal pattern that can be seen in previous models. Furthermore, customers also had the option to buy it with a newly-designed rubber strap or the Tag Heuer “H-Link”.

Aquaracer 300m Calibre 5 Ceramic Bezel
photo from calibre11.com

2. TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300m Calibre 5 Ceramic Bezel

After a year, TaAG Heuer introduced another version of the Calibre 5 model. But as mentioned above, it had a ceramic bezel this time around.

It looks a lot like its steel bezel counterpart. However, this version has thicker hour markers and hands. In addition, it also features a cyclops on the dial’s 3 o’clock position to aid legibility.

Moreover, it was initially offered in a 41mm case. But in 2016, TAG Heuer started producing it in a larger 43mm size.

3. Updated Aquaracer 300m Calibre 5 Steel Bezel

In 2017, the world experienced an updated version of the TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300m Calibre 5 in steel bezel. Evidently, it looks like the combination of the previous steel version and the ceramic one.

A few of the characteristics it borrowed from the ceramic version are the thick hour markers and hands and the cyclops above the date window. Furthermore, the “Calibre 5” which is printed on the dial is coloured with neon yellow.

Tag Heuer Aquaracer 300m Calibre 5 Ceramic Bezel Sports Models
Photo from calibre11.com

4. Aquaracer 300m Calibre 5 Ceramic Bezel Sports Models

In 2017, we also saw a playful version of the Calibre 5 Ceramic Bezel. As seen in the picture above, TAG Heuer decided to leave all of its conservatism and go wild.

Indeed, the new models feature a wide variety of colours and patterns. From metallic blue to muted olive. Those who want to go all the way can choose the camouflage-printed dial with a matching strap. But those who want something milder will appreciate the plain olive green one. 

Aside from the loud colours and dial patterns, the fit of the new series was also made for adventure. Instead of the usual metal bracelet or rubber, the sports models used nylon straps that match the dials.

Six Features of TAG Heuer

As mentioned above, the TAG Heuer Aquaracer is one of the brand’s few models that still make use of the Six Features. But what exactly is it and why is it important?

To give you an analogy, if Grand Seiko has its own style guide, then TAG Heuer has the Six Features. Simply put, it is the design philosophy that their watches from the 1990s followed. With no exceptions, each of their watches in that decade had the Six Features.

Certainly, this credo was a big factor in establishing the brand’s new identity. It was what separated them from the old Heuer.

Below are the Six Features of TAG Heuer watches:

  1. Water-resistant to 200m
  2. Screw-in crown
  3. Double safety clasp
  4. Unidirectional bezel
  5. Sapphire crystal
  6. Luminous markings

In modern times, the Six Features can still be seen in many TAG Heuer watches. However, they are not strictly enforced to give their different collections their own individuality. Despite this, rest assured that the watches are of top quality.

Recommended Tag Heuer Aquaracer Watches

1. Tag Heuer Aquaracer GMT

Tag Heuer Aquaracer GMT
photo from Amazon

Why is it good?

The TAG Heuer Aquaracer GMT is best for jet setters who could use the extra time zone feature. It has an expansive 43mm steel case and a two-tone GMT bezel in the popular Pepsi colourway.

Upon closer inspection, the dial features a distinctive horizontal streak effect. This pattern adds a bit of personality to the watch and makes it a lot more pleasing to look at. Meanwhile, the hour markers and the hands are coated with special lume to make it easier to read time in the dark or underwater.

Furthermore, it houses the Calibre 7 movement. It is self-winding, runs at a frequency of 28,800vph, and can power the watch up to two days when fully wound.

To conclude, this GMT watch will provide great value for your money. Indeed, it is a cheaper alternative to the more expensive Pepsi GMT watches without compromising quality.

Specs:

  • Case: Stainless steel
  • Movement: Automatic
  • Power reserve: 46 hours
  • Dimensions: 43mm
  • Water resistance: 300m

2. Tag Heuer Aquaracer Quartz (18K gold)

Tag HeuerAquaracer Quartz 18k Gold
Photo from Amazon

Why is it good?

The TAG Heue Aquaracer Quartz in 18K gold is a great way to make an entrance. Its combination of silver and yellow gold is sure to make some heads turn.

Aesthetically speaking, its unidirectional bezel, as well as the screw-down crown, are plated with 18K yellow gold. Meanwhile, the dial comes in white mother of pearl.

Furthermore, the links of the two-tone bracelet are fitted snugly to the wrist. Its colourway alternates between gold and finished stainless steel. Indeed, it offers both comfort and style.

Specs:

  • Case: Stainless steel
  • Movement: Quartz
  • Dimensions: 27mm
  • Water resistance: 300m

3. TAG Heuer Aquaracer Quartz Chronograph

Tag Heuer Aquaracer Quartz Chronograph
Photo from Amazon

Why is it good?

The Aquaracer Quartz Chronograph was made to take on different challenges. In fact, it is a combination of a diver watch and a chronograph.

Its counters are easy to read and conveniently located at the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions. The sub-dials are of the same colour as the whole dial to make them blend in. Additionally, the surface of the dial has an azurage effect, which is nice to look at. And the polished rhodium-plated hands add sophistication.

In terms of functionality, its 1/10th counter lets you measure time more accurately. On the other hand, it has a special lume pigment applied to the hands, indexes, and markers. Together with the yellow-tipped second hand, it makes the watch readable in low-light conditions.

Specs:

  • Case: Stainless steel
  • Movement: Quartz
  • Dimensions: 43mm
  • Water resistance: 300m

4. TAG Heuer Aquaracer Calibre 5

Tag Heuer Aquaracer Calibre 5
Photo from Amazon

Why is it good?

Go anywhere in style with the TAG Heuer Aquaracer Calibre 5. It features a superbly crafted 41mm stainless steel case. To add, its black dial has a brushed sunray effect, which you can show off to your friends.

Its stainless steel bracelet is comfortable enough to wear the whole day. It also has a clasp and safety push buttons to prevent it from accidentally opening. So no need to worry about losing it in crowded places. 

As its name suggests, it is fitted with the Calibre 5 movement. It is automatic and has basic functions such as the date. Lastly, it runs at a frequency of 28,800vph and can make the watch tick for up to 38 hours.

Specs:

  • Case: Stainless steel
  • Movement: Automatic
  • Power reserve: 38 hours
  • Dimensions: 41mm
  • Water resistance: 300m

5. TAG Heuer Aquaracer Quartz (Diamonds)

Tag Heuer Aquaracer Quartz with Diamonds
Photo from Amazon

Why is it good?

The TAG Heuer Aquaracer Quartz with diamonds proves that glamourous and sporty can exist in one sentence. It retains the angular case that the Aquaracer is known for. But with the addition of 35 brilliant diamonds on the bezel.

This model has a feminine vibe with its petite 35mm case. Additionally, the navy mother-of-pearl dial adds allure to its overall look.

Although it fits in naturally in fancy restaurants and opera houses, it can still take the demands of the wild outdoors. Case in point: it is water-resistant up to 300m whereas most dress watches do not go beyond 100m. Furthermore, the stainless steel used for the case is durable and can take a beating.

Specs:

  • Case: Stainless steel
  • Movement: Quartz
  • Dimensions: 35mm
  • Water resistance: 300m

Final Notes

Although often overshadowed by the brand’s motorsport watches, the TAG Heuer Aquaracer is a beast when it comes to performance. Aside from its durable material and ample water-resistance rating, the Aquaracer is also a treat to look at.

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned watch collector, you can never go wrong with any of the TAG Heuer Aquaracer models.

 

Can’t get enough of these stories? Check out how Bell & Ross went from zero to hero by reading this article!

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