November 27, 2017
by Ariel Adams
The TAG Heuer Link collection has and continues to be all about the bracelet. TAG Heuer retains the core DNA of the “S-curve” link, Link bracelet, but renders it in a totally new way. The new Link bracelet is beefier and a lot more polished. It also retains that infuriatingly complex bracelet construction system that begs to be adjusted exclusively by a trained professional. While you can size this bracelet yourself (with the right tools), I would not recommend it.
If you are someone who isn’t into a lot of polish and prefers a more demure or subdued look for a men’s business watch, then move on now. In fact, the biggest difference between the 2017 Link Men Calibre 5 and some previous generation Link models is how much attention they are trying to get through polished surfaces. The Link has actually traditionally been all about excellent brushed finishing on curved surfaces and those models were very nice. The new Link is all about contrast polishing with brushed surfaces, and a lot of polished surfaces. While the current Link model certainly has the hallmark brushed finishes of the larger family of Link timepieces, it also has a lot more polished surfaces than any other TAG Heuer Link I can think of.
Noticeably tapering and thick on the wrist, the Link bracelet steals the show when it comes to your attention – away from the dial. In a sense, that doesn’t bother me. If the dial is mostly business, then the bracelet is free to be more fun. One might argue that both the dial and the bracelet can be avant-garde – but such attempts usually end in product design sensory overload. The Swiss are good at this for a reason as they often have an innate sense of “just enough” when it comes to elegant, refined watch design.
It might be no accident that TAG Heuer designed the Link to be so polarizing. While the previous generation Link wasn’t as visually assertive, it was also less controversial (and perhaps not an amazing seller). Under the leadership of Jean-Claude Biver, TAG Heuer has been able to approach different consumer demographics on a range of fronts – each in a relatively loud manner, which is what performs well today. Consumers are given enormous options when it comes to luxury watches these days, so there is logic in the notion that the loudest brands win.
The 2017 TAG Heuer Link is a courageous and non-conservative model from the brand, though in a time when it needs to be. It does everything people expect from a Swiss watch, but also delivers unseasonably strong personality from a watch meant for formal occasions – though you could easily rock the Link with short sleeves. The bracelet isn’t just interesting to look at, but also extremely comfortable. The total lack of sharp edges sees to that, as well as the fluid feeling of the links on your skin as you wear it. Some of my favorite details are in the butterfly-style deployant clasp, which is thick and nicely polished just like the rest of the bracelet. The clasp is also hidden, which gives the under-side of the bracelet a very elegant streamlined look to it.
The Link’s main consumer has rarely been the type of person to call themselves a serious watch collector. The Link is a mainstream luxury watch for someone who needs one to a few nice watches, but aren’t seriously in the hobby. Wives, family, or even good friends might be those who end up supplying many a man with his Link Calibre 5, but that doesn’t mean a “watch guy” can get down with it. Just like the Rolex Datejust – which is also a watch many watch collectors don’t wear – the Link is undeniably a men’s jewelry watch, but not in a gouache or obscene manner. The design is tasteful, masculine, and just hip enough to feel like it is doing more than simply calling attention to the wearer. There is no shame in getting a TAG Heuer Link to wear simply because you like the design. TAG Heuer’s 2017 Link Calibre 5 men’s models include the reference WBC2111.BA0603 (silver-plated dial), WBC2110.BA0603 (black dial), and WBC2112.BA0603 (blue sunray dial) as tested. Retail price for each is $2,900 USD. tagheuer.com
>Brand: TAG Heuer
>Model: Link Calibre 5 reference WBC2112.BA0603 as tested
>Size: 41mm wide
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Guy who likes to show off a tiny little bit, who needs a strong-looking office watch.
>Best characteristic of watch: Bold new design direction for the Link was a successful risk for the brand. Bracelet is comfortable as ever. Ready to read dial.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Dial might appear plain to some, and to others the watch will look too shiny. Movement might be nicer with some decoration. I prefer a distinct shape or look for the 12 o’clock hour marker.