Under the leadership of Jean-Claude Biver, TAG Heuer has been making some moves that are helping to reenergize the brand. Some recent highlights include the much-discussed Heuer 02T Tourbillon as well as the new TAG Heuer Connected watch and the revival of an old classic, the Heuer Monza. All help affirm TAG Heuer’s strategy as a bit of a rule-breaker while firmly remaining in the entry-level category of the luxury Swiss watch market. The TAG Heuer Aquaracer keeps getting better, and these new models improve on the previous version with cool black PVD titanium cases and hip, vibrant colors.
While they have run the gamut with new, revamped, and reintroduced watches this year, TAG Heuer did not disappoint with this release either, again spicing up their bread and butter Aquaracer diving watches. Like last year, the updates to the range come at a 43mm diameter and use the TAG Heuer Calibre 5 movement, aka the ETA 2824-02 movement. This movement is a TAG workhorse and operates at 28,800bph with a 38-hour power reserve. Nothing new here, and the main changes this year are in adding even more bold styling and colors to the line.
Tan joins red and black this year, providing a slightly softer but still masculine look to the classic diver style. All use black ceramic bezels and black PVD-coated titanium cases, and these actually deviate a little from the 2015 TAG Heuer Aquaracer models by accentuating the red in the ceramic bezel as well as having a matching blue strap for the blue option. The dial also had an upgrade using the red and blue to accentuate the indices and flat hands. The red is brash, the blue a bit more brooding, and the sandy tan is just very effortlessly cool. It may sound like I’m fawning a bit here, but TAG obviously put a lot of thought into each color option, and they all work.
New for 2016 is the aforementioned tan-accented TAG Heuer Aquaracer Black Titanium model and it’s perhaps my favorite. This one uses cues from the blue and red but with (obviously) tan coloring instead, which works brilliantly against the black case, dial, and bezel. The strap is also tan with a black deployant clasp. The dial is like the blue and red but with a yellow seconds hand that helps the contrast against the black ceramic and matches the TAG Heuer logo and Aquaracer branding.
As we mentioned last year, while these make for excellent entry-level desk divers, their specs allow them to still be considered as a real diver with 300m water-resistance rating and a bezel that rotates in one direction for timing events. The problem with considering these as serious dive watches is that the coloring (e.g., blue) will not help one bit in murky or deep dive conditions, and the strap – while excellent for day-to-day – hardly feels like something that would resist the harsh conditions of a dive boat and has no easy way to extend to fit over a wet suit.
So while the new 2016 TAG Heuer Aquaracer Black Titanium watches are mainly a sharper and bolder evolution of the line, I think they will do well in the market that TAG Heuer is targeting. It’s a difficult segment that is positioned between the obvious lower range divers that are now also joined by the crop of connected/smart watches and pricier dive watches like the Tudor Pelagos and Sinn T1, for instance. As Zen mentioned in his Omega Cost of Entry piece, the lowest-priced mechanical Omega watch is the Seamaster Diver 300M Co-Axial that starts at $4,400. That’s a number that won’t work for a lot of buyers, so these TAG Heuer Aquaracers are a solid alternative.
It’s also worth noting that TAG Heuer also added two more conservative models to the line. First, a steel model that has a classic blue bezel and dial reminiscent of the Omega Seamaster 300M. And then, there is a ceramic model with a gold bezel. Personally, it’s my least favorite of the lot but one that might appeal to those less looking for a diver’s watch but rather more of a day-to-day wear that would fit one’s fashion sense.
These TAG Heuer Aquaracer Black Titanium watches bring a lovely palette of colors to TAG Heuer’s entry-level watches, keeping the brand accessible to new and younger watch-wearers while giving new buyers a potential route to the other models. The blue (WAY208B.FC6382) and tan (WAY208C.FC6383) TAG Heuer Aquaracer Black Titanium watches are available now, and the red (WAY208A.FC6381) version will be available from November 2016. All have the same price, which in North America is US$2,800. tagheuer.com