In-Depth: How TAG Heuer’s Beloved

Dive Watch Returned to the Sea


The year

was 1978…

Close Encounters of the Third Kind was playing in theaters. The first ever cell phone was introduced. Space Invaders had just kicked off a video game arm’s race, and innovative Swiss chronograph maker Heuer introduced its inaugural dive product: the mighty Reference 844.

Since the decade prior, Heuer had enjoyed its status as a household name in the relatively niche world of motor racing, but the brand was in dire need of reaching new customers. It was decided that a more rugged, purpose-built tool watch — one that could withstand the rigors of ocean adventure — would be able to introduce the brand to an entirely new audience while broadening Heuer’s core timekeeping competencies off the track. The target market? The fast-growing world of sport diving, popularized by the explorations and films from dive legend Jacques Cousteau. Manufactured in France by Monnin, the bold 42mm 844 (much larger than many of its contemporaries at the time) and its immediate successors would soon solidify the Heuer as a major player in the sports-timekeeping market and lay the groundwork for the sporty and ultra-capable Aquaracer Professional 300 of today. As for the 844, vintage collectors all agree: it is without question the most collectible and historically significant dive watch that Heuer has ever made.

A tough act to follow indeed, but since the 844’s introduction and immediate success at the end of the 1970s, bold, colorful, innovative, ultra-capable and markedly collectible dive watches have remained an integral part of the TAG Heuer story.

The advent of skin-diving and undersea exploration might have been the onus for more seaworthy dive watches, but as Heuer did with racing chronographs, innovation was was the name of the game. From ultra-tough PVD coatings to colorful, fully lumed dials, and chronographs that could be operated underwater, the only constant in TAG Heuer’s dive watch legacy has been that of innovation.

It’s no secret — in fact, Jack Heuer said so himself: the 844 saved his company. Even with motor racing’s meteoric rise in popularity and cultural relevance in the 60s and 70s, it still remained a relatively niche sport with a relatively niche audience — one that was hardly large enough to build a global brand upon. The immediate success of the 844 and the subsequent success of the Heuer references it inspired would quickly inform the sporty lineage and capability of what would later become the modern TAG Heuer dive watch we know today: the avant-garde Aquaracer.

“It is all about getting the design to align and look effortless. We want all our watches to fit together with the idea of continuity while also standing out as great individual watches.”

Guy Bove, TAG Heuer Creative Director

It took Guy Bove, TAG Heuer Creative Director, and his team a full two years to bring the new generation of Aquaracer to life. Certainly no small task, given the success of previous Aquaracer generations, the goal was to link the newest iteration with the brand’s storied history in diving while not disrupting its most distinct, avant-garde design elements.

“We tried to hone the design while retaining the aggressive, modern and faceted look of the previous version, which are all characteristics that continue to differentiate it from other divers’ watches,” Bove said.

A closer inspection of the detail-rich Aquaracer Professional 300 suggests that Bove and his team were able to do just that, combining the modernity and angularity that Aquaracer fans have come to know and love, while simplifying and refining other elements. The shorter, more sculpted case profile, the sharply knurled bezel, the classical sword-shaped handset (differing from the ‘Mercedes’ or ‘cathedral’ style hands of the original 844), and the clever date magnifier on the underside of the crystal are just a few of such standout details that all help streamline the design and establish a stronger sense of design continuity between the Aquaracer’s own past and TAG Heuer’s other classic properties like the Autavia, the Carrera, and the iconic Monaco.

“It is all about getting the design to align and look effortless. We want all our watches to fit together with the idea of continuity while also standing out as great individual watches,” Bove adds.

The end result is pure in its design and capability, but is unmistakably “TAG Heuer,” identifiable at a glance from across the dive boat.

With its sleek, modernized design that welcomes the future while acknowledging Heuer’s dive watch roots, the new 43mm Aquaracer Professional 300 brings it all together in a striking collection of references that unite color, capability, and heritage with impressive cohesion — all of which without forsaking the six core tenets established by the 844: a scratch-resistant crystal, a unidirectional bezel, screwed-down crown, bright luminous elements, a double-safety clasp on the bracelet, and enough water resistance for working professional divers and holiday snorkelers alike.

Leading the collection is ref. WBP208C.FT6201, the limited edition tribute to 844, rendered in a 43mm grade 5 titanium case and finished with a more stark presentation that includes the matte black dial and red military scale of the source material. For the dive watch purist or the Heuer historian, this is a natural choice. Joining the limited edition are a series of 43mm stainless steel references in black, blue, and silver dials — each with the distinct horizontal “shutters” that have since become a signature of the modern Aquaracer and a callsign for its sporting prowess. A fifth green-dialed reference in a stealthy matte grade 2 titanium rounds out the selection and ensures there’s truly something for every wrist, and every adventure — aquatic or otherwise.


Explore the full range of Aquaracer watches at




This special edition Aquaracer pays homage to the iconic Ref. 844, TAG Heuer’s first dive watch released in 1978. Powered by the automatic Calibre 5, the Tribute to Heuer 844 is up for the most extreme challenges. Price: $4,350



This new special edition TAG Heuer Aquaracer with a vibrant silver sunray brushed dial is a true diving watch. Bold black gold-plated hands and hour markers generously filled with white Super-LumiNova for superb legibility. Price: $3,000