Among Tag Heuer's mainstay watch collections is the Link. I believe it was originally introduced in the late 1980s, and has been a major part of the brand's image since then. The Link's DNA has always been linked to its bracelet - offering a special look that many have tried to replicate (but not very well). For 2011 Tag Heuer updates and refines the entire link watch collection. I sat down with Tag Heuer's CEO Mr. Babin to talk all about it.
I previously wrote about a Link watch here when doing a review a few years ago. Owning a previous Link model helped me to see the differences that Tag Heuer was able to give the new collection. For the time being the collection is a bit more formal and dressy than its sportier parents. Tag Heuer will likely move into a sport direction later, but have been really focused on a good mature look with their recent mainstream models.
Going first to the bracelet, Tag Heuer streamlined the iconic look a lot. Making the links a bit more flush and less rounded. The distance between the parts is much less. I recall with previous bracelet, sizing it was a pain. I did manage to size it myself, but it was a very involved process. Tag Heuer designed the bracelet to have no exposed pins on the sides, so it was a tricky - but cleverly engineered bracelet. Not sure how that concept plays in with the new bracelet. Save for the two-tone models in steel and gold, the links are brushed. If you've felts the links of a Link bracelet before, you know that Tag Heuer's process results in some of the nicest brushed surfaces around.
As the core case and bracelet of the watch are softer looking and brushed, Tag Heuer wanted to create a contrast when it came to the dial and bezel. Here you see much of the design of the new Link. For now, gone is the rotating bezel replaced with a fixed polished bezel that hints to the piece's dressy soul. While the designs are varied, you can see how the bezel's are richly polished with either Roman or Arabic numerals. For a dress watch they are very nice. The finishing is excellent, and there is a new feature that Tag Heuer hopes will add to the distinctiveness of the entire Link family. You likely won't notice this at first, but look at the polished outer bezel ring. See how it isn't actually round? This element slopes downward and is actually more cushion shaped - offering little corner bulges. Clearly a very subtle feature, this element does a lot to enhance the look of the case.
Link case sizes are going to be between 40 - 43mm wide for now. At launch, there will be a lot of models with either Swiss quartz or mechanical movements. The basic quartz model will be 40mm wide with a three-hand movement (called the Link Watch with Quartz Movement). There will also be a 43mm wide quartz chronograph model with Tag Heuer's popular Calibre S movement. Up from there are at least three automatic watches. These contain either the Tag Heuer Calibre 5, 6, or 16 movements (base ETA). Basically, as far as I can tell, the 2011 Link will have five product subranges, each with its own range of colors and styles. The differences between certain models is extremely subtle - such as the difference between Arabic or Roman numerals on the bezel.
The Calibre 6 model will be 40mm wide with a subsidiary seconds hand - and probably the most elegant Link look. The Calibre 5 automatic on the other hand is 42mm wide and is the day/date model. I like the integration of the day/date information. The windows are symmetrically stacked on the bottom of the dial, and the day of the week window has the entire day spelled out as is common on Rolex President watches.
The Link automatic chronograph will have the Calibre 16 and is 43mm wide. This movement is a base ETA Valjoux 7750. All the watches have sapphire crystals and are pretty darn comfortable on the wrist. Tag Heuer's reputation for comfort and refinement in recent times really comes from watches like the Carrera and Link.
A few years ago Tag Heuer really wanted to "class up" the dials of the Link by adding thinner hands and textured dial. They dials are attractive but less bold than some of the earlier Link models. I would like to see this new case style with bolder, more sporty dial in the future. For now, the new Link collection is a very refined looking, conservative men's watch with a lot of universal appeal. Prices again start at about $2,000. The quartz models start at $2,100, while the automatic models start at $2,700 for the Calibre 6. The Calibre 5 based Link is $2,800 in steel, and $3,800 in steel with gold (some solid and some plated gold elements). The Calibre 16 based automatic chronograph Links are also $3,800. Look for them very soon - and please note that while there are a lot of the models displayed in this article, it isn't all of them!