Summer is in full swing, and with it comes the prime season for dive watches. While a solid diver can become nearly synonymous with warm weather fun, another style staple that is every bit as tied to the season is a classic pair of sunglasses. TAG Heuer looks to combine elements of both into its latest Aquaracer release, delivering a pair of models that combine the brand’s core diver look with a tortoise shell style resin bezel insert that feels like it was pulled directly from a vintage pair of Persol or Ray-Ban shades. The special edition TAG Heuer Aquaracer Tortoise Shell Effect Calibre 5 Automatic series delivers a handsomely unique take on the brand’s diver design with a sunny vintage cast.
The TAG Heuer Aquaracer Tortoise Shell Effect Calibre 5 Automatic series uses the 43mm version of the standard stainless steel Aquaracer case, lending this piece 300 meters of water resistance and some solid wrist presence. Short lugs help to keep the overall size manageable, while the simple angular case geometry keeps the design feeling aggressive and modern. The real stars of the show, of course, are the 12-sided unidirectional dive bezels. The multicolor resin inserts do an impressive job of capturing the depth and color of luxury tortoiseshell glasses frames, but both versions interpret this element very differently. For the blue bezel variant, the effect is moody and aquatic, with a mottled sea blue and black pattern that calls to mind moonlight on ocean water. The brown bezel, meanwhile, is infinitely warmer and more direct in translating the tortoiseshell look, making for a stylish element that adds a touch of patina look at a glance without resorting to the usual tricks of retro design and khaki lume.
While the bezels of these new models are undoubtedly the statement piece of the new series, the dials also include a handful of subtler color changes from more traditional Aquaracer models. The excellent horizontally engraved blue sunburst dial is carried over here, with its dynamic tones now accented by touches of cyan on the minutes track, seconds hand, and the Calibre 5 dial text. Likewise, the brown bezel variant starts with the brand’s standard engraved black sunburst finish, but adds warm brown accents to play off the varied tones of the bezel.
As the name suggests, TAG Heuer powers the Aquaracer Tortoise Shell Effect Calibre 5 Automatic with the ETA 2824-2 based Calibre 5 automatic movement. The Calibre 5 has been a cornerstone of TAG Heuer’s lineup for years, and while it may be getting a touch long in the tooth it remains a decent performer with a 42 hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate.
While the bezels of the new Aquaracer Tortoise Shell Effect Calibre 5 Automatic series are certainly the most striking elements of these new designs, the strap selection might be the most controversial. Both blue and black dial variants are mounted on matching rubber straps, textured with an alligator pattern. It’s a strange intersection of sporty and formal design cues that doesn’t fit either category particularly well, and draws attention away from the watch itself. That said, there are many other available options for a post-purchase swap that would look attractive here, including a tropic strap or the standard Aquaracer three link bracelet.
With an unorthodox blend of modern diver and classic sunglass design elements, the TAG Heuer Aquaracer Tortoise Shell Effect Calibre 5 Automatic manages to create a summery left-field conversation piece that becomes greater than the sum of its parts. While the series is a special edition, the brand has mentioned that production numbers will not be limited. The TAG Heuer Aquaracer Tortoise Shell Effect Calibre 5 Automatic will be available through authorized dealers in August 2020. Pricing for these models was not available as of press time. For more details, visit TAG Heuer’s website.