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TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300M Watch Review & Pe’ahi Challenge 2015 Surfing

TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300M Watch Review & Pe'ahi Challenge 2015 Surfing Wrist Time Reviews

TAG Heuer‘s current tag line is “Don’t Crack Under Pressure.” And with their sponsorship of the World Surf League‘s Big Wave contests and Hawaii surfer Kai Lenny, it really rings true. On December 6th, the waves at Pe’ahi (aka Jaws) on the north shore of Maui, Hawaii, were 65ft high and the first ever WSL Pe’ahi Challenge 2015 was on. Big wave contests like this (and the Eddie Aikau on the north shore of O’ahu) are usually conducted in a single day within the open contest period.

TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300M Watch Review & Pe'ahi Challenge 2015 Surfing Wrist Time Reviews

Pe’ahi is known to surfers as “Jaws” – so named as the break can close in from both sides of the deep channel that was carved by a stream where it empties into the Pacific. And because, as local surfer Kai Lenny puts it, “Jaws can bite you.” The waves at Pe’ahi/Jaws don’t even break until the face heights get over 12 feet. On an average day, you just see rolling swells and would not know this is one of the handful of truly big wave super-sites in the world.

TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300M Watch Review & Pe'ahi Challenge 2015 Surfing Wrist Time Reviews

TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300M

TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300M Watch Review & Pe'ahi Challenge 2015 Surfing Wrist Time Reviews

Kai Lenny

Access to the site is not easy. There is a limited amount of cleared land (on private property) down a 1.5-mile dirt road from the Hana Highway for the contest organizers and the strictly limited number of guests – each surfer can only have 2 family members at the cliff site. And the surfers themselves motor up to the site from Kahalui harbor about 13 miles away on support boats and jet skis and take position to the west just before the massive break. But this is not a “tow-in” big wave contest. No, the surfers have to paddle over to the waves and position themselves to catch the 6-story monsters on their own and hope they don’t go “over the falls” and become a fatality. They use high-tech on-demand inflatable vests, but as Kai Lenny told us, it’s quite a sight to be underneath a giant wave and looking up at 65ft of water over your head (as you hold your breath and try to swim to the surface).

TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300M Watch Review & Pe'ahi Challenge 2015 Surfing Wrist Time Reviews

Kai Lenny surfing Jaws with a TAG Heurer Aquaracer 300M

The pressure is both mental and physical for the surfer, and literally a lot of pressure on a watch. TAG Heuer-sponsored surfer Kai Lenny wears a bog standard TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300M watch even while catching some of the largest rideable waves in the world. He says that as he looks down the wave with his left arm extended, his watch gives him an aiming point. He uses his watch at Jaws to time the heats (nominally an hour each).

TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300M Watch Review & Pe'ahi Challenge 2015 Surfing Wrist Time Reviews

Kai Lenny wearing his TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300M

Kai has been surfing professionally for over 10 years, yet he is just 23 years old. He is an all-around athlete who’s sports include surfing, stand-up paddle (SUP) surfing (for which he is a world champion), tow-in surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, and skateboarding (he has his own half-pipe in his backyard).

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TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300M Watch Review & Pe'ahi Challenge 2015 Surfing Wrist Time Reviews

Kai Lenny’s backyard half-pipe

He is the most mature, grounded 23-year-old I’ve ever come across. He is not a “surfer dude” as you might stereotypically imagine. Rather, he is a disciplined and very fit athlete who trained with surf greats such as Laird Hamilton since he was a little kid. Both Kai and his father, Martin Lenny, are incredibly nice people and are truly grateful for all that life has given them. And they give back via Kai’s foundation: positivelykai.com. But make no mistake about it, Kai worked very hard to get where he is. That hard work got him in the Pe’ahi Challenge as one of just 24 contestants.

TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300M Watch Review & Pe'ahi Challenge 2015 Surfing Wrist Time Reviews

He made it as far as the semi-finals this year. In the final, only 3 of the 6 surfers even caught waves. Even the best are at the mercy of what waves come along, and if they are in position to paddle like hell and catch a wave that will have them free falling down a wave face that is taller than a house.

TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300M Watch Review & Pe'ahi Challenge 2015 Surfing Wrist Time Reviews

Kai Lenny surfing Jaws with a TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300M

The power of the big waves at Pe’ahi/Jaws is something to behold. A friend of mine lives about a mile away and he can hear the thunderous roar from his house when Jaws is pumping. And he says he can also hear the grinding of boulders that are dragged out to sea when the waves pull back.

TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300M Watch Review & Pe'ahi Challenge 2015 Surfing Wrist Time Reviews

Kai Lenny surfing Jaws with a TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300M

Big wave surfers use “Big Guns” which are boards that are not just larger but have much stronger center stringers and use twice the thickness of fiberglass compared to a regular board. Even at that, Kai broke two boards within 10 minutes at Jaws during the contest. He said he is so happy to have TAG Heuer as a sponsor, as they tell him to just do his thing and they will keep providing him with the tools of his trade. With boards in the $1000 range, sponsorship is essential for top surfers to be remain competitive.

TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300M Watch Review & Pe'ahi Challenge 2015 Surfing Wrist Time Reviews

Big Guns eaten by Jaws

TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300M Watch Review & Pe'ahi Challenge 2015 Surfing Wrist Time Reviews

I was one of the fortunate few to watch the WSL Pe’ahi Challenge live from the cliff overlooking Jaws as a guest of TAG Heuer. The day after the contest, Kai Lenny and a couple of local surfing instructors gave lessons to TAG Heuer’s guests – I passed due to knees ruined by hang gliding long ago.

TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300M Watch Review & Pe'ahi Challenge 2015 Surfing Wrist Time Reviews

WSL Peahi Challenge 2015

TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300M Watch Review & Pe'ahi Challenge 2015 Surfing Wrist Time Reviews

Kai Lenny giving surf lessons

So instead, I took photos of my fellow travelers and swam in the warm waters of Lahaina Roads (the part of the Pacific between Maui, Lanai, and Molokai) with a TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300M on my wrist. Humpback whales were just starting to return to Lahaina Roads when we were there. It is a favored birthing area for Humpbacks who trek down from Alaskan feeding waters each winter.

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Comments

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  • Great article, Mark! I can’t tell if I’m more tempted to pick up that TAG, or to book a trip to Hawaii. Also, ZULU straps on shoulderless springbars, ladies and gentlemen, in and around water. This is why we like drilled lugs.

  • IanE

    A good-looking watch: if I didn’t have an Omega Seamaster, that would be on my short-list. I just have one query – I mean, from your article, I can tell it’s a pretty tough watch, but will it stand the rigours to which it is subjected by us desk-divers?

    • Shinytoys

      desk diving is an extreme sport for sure 🙂

      • Ryan B.

        Long time desk diver here and I concur, it can get pretty rough sometimes.

        Good article, Mark.

  • DanW94

    Nice write-up Mark. Those are some tasty looking waves, Brah! We generally don’t see them like that here on the Great Lakes : ) It’s a great looking watch also. I really like it on that blue stitched nylon strap.

    • spiceballs

      Agree about the write-up, waves, watch and strap which for me, might just be the only alternative to a bracelet.

  • Shinytoys

    Great article Hula Dude 🙂 Heuer is making their way back into my heart.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    Hmm…..i dont own a surf board , and look daft in Bermuda shorts. Nice to know my watch would still be ticking when i had imploded 100 feet above it. Nice colour, straps fine, no need ever for a bubble date window.

  • benjameshodges

    Great story about the lost Heuer in Fiji.

  • Dcf

    Lulz, Plastic movt holder for an off the shelf bulk movement. Tag tells you right there how much they think of their product while charging omega prices with quality that can’t even compare to Seiko. Never any shame

    • ConElPueblo

      Show me where you can buy the equivalent Omega for $2,550 off the shelf from a AD?

      Thought so.

      • Dcf

        Enjoy your plasti TAG bro should have stopped up to a seiko

        • ConElPueblo

          Classic reply… Really one of the great minds of the internet, aren’t you? 🙂
          I don’t own a TAG Heuer, but this seems to be a pretty good showing from them. Nice not seeing another Submariner-clone.

          • Dcf

            Well, I don’t have a 3K watch with plastic holding the movement to the case, so I got that going for me.

          • ConElPueblo

            Just wondering here, having read an article elsewhere on highly advanced watcehs – how do you feel about the use of, say, silicon in watch movements? About artificial jewels? Du you dislike them as well?

  • Auto Correct

    That plastic movement holder will easily crack under pressure. No respect for Tag. Great article though!

    • ConElPueblo

      …Please, do tell me of a case of a cracked plastic movement holder?

      • Auto Correct

        Don’t overthink it. Just word play on their slogan. The plastic holder is an embarrassment to their “Luxury Status”

        • ConElPueblo

          Fair enough, but how about plastic parts elsewhere? A lot of companies does it, and for something of that little importance, I really don’t think it matters. The only difference, I guess, will be a little less weight?

    • MEddie90

      I think the whole “metal good, plastic bad” attitude is a little outdated and based on a real lack of understanding regarding material engineering. These days we can make bridges out of plastics, they have excellent weight to strength ratios and in the case of a movement holder can help absorb shocks due to flexibility. Some watches also use plastic cams and gears for areas of a watch that don’t encounter much use (i.e the date changing mechanism) because they are subjected to next to 0 wear and using plastic removes the need for lubrication and reduces the likelihood of breakage, in these scenarios plastic is an objectively favorable material.

      It would be like criticizing ceramic watch components because plates also happen to be made of ceramic and they’re pretty fragile.

  • BNABOD

    A decent looking watch, ceramic bezel, easily readable, reliable workhorse movement but in my view still too pricey for what one gets. look at Oris for similar quality and much cheaper.

  • Dan Collard

    Finally an article that has my two favourite things, watches and surfing! I watched the contest online and it was awesome. Not a bad looking watch either although I’m not a massive fan of TAG. Thanks Mark.

  • Chaz

    Looks like Kai’s got some serious chicken skin going on there!!

    Nice write up, Mark!

  • Lawrence

    The wall between the dial and the crystal is not detailed, rolex put rolex rolex and crowns there, other extend the dial.. Bezel is to plain where the teeth would go. Seconds hands color in the black version is wrong. Dial lines are not for an sports watch. The strap is horrible, bracelet is ok. They release less than perfect watches so they can improve in the next years… The only complete packages are in the Rolex Sub and some of the seiko prospex 1K+

  • funNactive

    I like the two tone lume on this watch.
    I have the automatic version of the watch lost & recovered pictured above (Tag 2000 automatic – the model before the Aquaracer) in a blue dial & the original bracelet that I scuba dive with.

  • iamcalledryan

    Those waves are HUGE!

  • spiceballs

    Me sitting here driving this desk with it raining outside. Never mind about the watch (which is pretty nice, for a Tag) man this article makes me long for some simple sun & sea. Thx Mark.

  • Boogur T. Wang

    Great write-up Mr. Carson.
    Excellent photos and good story line throughout the piece.
    Props to Mr. Kenny and his surfing adventure and props to TAG-Heuer for actually making a watch I like.

    Regarding the movement holder; there is “plastic” and then again there is “plastic,” I have to think that TH uses a synthetic material resembling what we know as “plastic” that has durability standards much higher than just common everyday ‘toy plastic.’ Modern polymeric materials (“plastics”) are sometimes stronger and lighter than their metal equal.
    I have no knowledge if this is what TH uses – but given the advanced stage of watch technology – it probably is. Only TAG-Heuer knows…lol.
    Hang loose Dude!

    p.s. – careful on those skater ramps. Guy could get hurt on them things!

    • Kai Lenny has a cable from one end of the half-pipe to the other so you can hook in to a suspension line and to your harness. That way you can skate from one end to the other and never face plant. Kai said that is great for when he has guests over. That way they can get more radical than they otherwise want to attempt.

  • Lawrence

    Tag Heuer Aquaracer in Dull Blue.

    • The photo of the watch on a leaf with red and yellow flowers is probably most like how it looks in real life. The blue ceramic bezel does have shine to it, so it’s not dull blue. Or were you referring to some other part? Or do you think the watch is dull? To each his own of course, but I found this to be an attractive watch while I was wearing it for a 10 day period. Cheers.

      • Lawrence

        Thanks Mark, yes i was referring to the bezel color. Now I see. I think I just have been spoiled by the Pelagos Blue and the Sub C blue.

  • egznyc

    I bet he would have excelled in certain winter sports, too – the kind where they talk about “amplitude” and “big air” and the like. Glad to hear he has a down to earth nature – probably comes in handy with all the big waves he’s riding!

    Nice looking watch, but yes, there’s s lot of competition at this price point (and plenty of fine choices for less). Oh, didn’t you say it ranged between -5 and +1? Isn’t chronometric performance between -4 and +6? (Just like me to be a [email protected]$$.)

    • Yeah, you are right (-4/+6) for COSC. My point was that the total deviation was 6 seconds which is within the 10 second range COSC specifies. Only one of the 6 positions I tested was -5. Most of the others were close to dead on so this is an accurate watch which in the end is what matters. Cheers (and thanks for being pedantic – usually that’s my job, ha ha).

      • egznyc

        Your point was not lost on me – it was quite accurate! I’d still have preferred it if the range had been -1 to +5. But yes, I should leave it to others to be pedantic. I just have trouble doing that 😉

  • Omegaboy

    Re: ‘nicely engraved caseback’. Done by a laser in about 30 seconds. Nice looking, but the Tag label drives the price up on an otherwise $1000 watch.

  • Whakeback

    Beautiful pictures, I’ve got to check a map to see if thiis is the spot I think it is. I remember driving across Maui and came round a corner where the cliff dropped to the sea into a horse shoe bay- not sure how the surfers below got out there but it looked scarier than s#@t.
    In alpine skiing it would be called a ‘no fall zone’.
    Anyway, too bad the article had to mention the guy in Fiji. I lost a Tag diving in Cuba, love the brand and bought another. Couple of years later while holding the bimini cover to my boat waiting for the bilge my Tag fell straight off my wrist. Crappy luck, the watch didn’t even hit the dock dropped straight into the sedinent of the St. Lawrence. I dove for it and never found it. Now I run from the brand…it would be interesting to know how many others have had the same experience. I called Tag and complained and was told that they had some faulty straps….whatever..

    • Thanks – I had fun taking all of the photos in this post. The place you are probably thinking of is further down the Hana highway (near the Ke’Anae peninsula). The closest landmark for the access road to Jaws is the cemetery just before the turn off. Sorry to hear about your TAGs

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