Evolution not revolution. While at first glance the new model appears similar to the current one, look more closely and you see the changes are actually quite significant: case, dial, bezel and hands have all changed. Welcome to the paradox of the 2014 TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300m range.
While there have been a number of Aquaracer models over the last few years, the 300m is the model that is the closest in execution to the original Heuer 2000 of 1982, the predecessor of the Aquaracer range. If you’re new to the history of the TAG Heuer 2000 and Aquaracer, then make sure you check out the Ultimate Guide to the TAG Heuer 2000.
And it’s not just the look of the watch that’s new, it’s also our first chance to see TAG Heuer’s new pricing strategy played out across a major series, with a greater emphasis on quartz models, which feature subtle design changes to differentiate them from the mechanical models. Boasting a full quartz range has allowed TAG Heuer to keep a tight grip on pricing, which starts at less than USD2,000.
We had a chance to get hands-on with several models from the new range during a visit to TAG Heuer HQ last month to bring you this first look at the new Aquaracer 300m range.
There is no mistaking the watch for anything other than an Aquaracer, with the new model keeping the traditional look of the Aquaracer/ 2000 series that was launched more than 30 years ago. Take a look at the image below that shows the evolution of the 2000/ Aquaracer from 1982 (left), 1991 (centre) and 1995 (right).
While the look has evolved, the basic design has been maintained through the case shape and the trademark six studs on the rotating bezel.
Dial and Hands
There are two dial designs for the new Aquaracer. The Calibre 5 models (left) have a horizontal streak pattern across the dial, while the quartz models have a two-part dial, with a starburst centre dial (Blue dial only) surrounded by outer azurage patterning. The quartz has a simpler pattern, while the mechanical models gain a more interesting look.
You’ll also notice that the Calibre 5 has “Aquaracer” just below the TAG Heuer logo, while on the quartz model this sits above the 6 o’clock hour-marker.
Even the hands are different- slightly thicker hour and minute hands for the Calibre 5, in addition to a more elaborate sweeping seconds hand.
The case may look familiar, but as we’ll show you shortly, the design has changed from the current model. Also note the use of alternating polished and brushed surfaces, which helps lift the feel of the watch substantially.
All models share the same 40.5mm case, which is marginally smaller than the 41mm case of the previous model.
Bracelets and Straps
There are two confirmed options for straps for the Aquaracer 300m- the new-look rubber strap that you see above and the now ubiquitous “H-Link” bracelet first seen on the Grand Carrera, and now found across the Carrera range.
The H-Link bracelet can also be found on the Gold models, although the alternating Gold links are no longer Gold plated, but are now Gold capped. What’s the difference? Capped links use about 10X the amount of Gold than plated links.
Those are the confirmed options, but we do hear that TAG Heuer is considering offering a NATO-strap as a third choice, which would be fantastic if it comes to pass and the first time that TAG Heuer has issued a NATO strap. We’ve seen brands like Tudor doing great things with alternative strap (distressed leather, NATO), so we look forward to seeing TAG Heuer’s take on this trend.
What’s Changed from the Current Model?
The first change to highlight is the case design- grab a coffee if you need one, because this gets complicated..
Back in 2010 we had two Aquaracer case designs- the first being what we’ll call the traditional, curvy case of the Aquaracer 300m (above left) and the then-new squarer look of the Aquaracer 500m (below), highlighted by its elongated lugs.
In 2012, TAG Heuer updated the Aquaracer 500m by adding a ceramic bezel and making the case…exactly like the 2010 Aquaracer 300m, as you can see below.
And the new 2014 Aquaracer 300m? Well, its case is inspired by the 2010 Aquaracer 500m. Over the course of four years, we now have different case designs again for the 300m and 500m models, but they’ve essentially exchanged cases.
Looking at a closer shot of the old and new models, let’s summarise the changes
- New bezel (now flat at the bottom rather than pointed)
- Engraved minutes on the bezel rather than black- lacquered
- Revised dial- same horizontal ridges, but different execution
- New, larger hands
- Repositioning of “Aquaracer” text
- New crown (larger)
- New triangular hour markers
So basically everything has changed, even if at first glance the two watches are very similar. Overall, we think the changes are very successful- still undeniably an Aquaracer, but a squarer design and one is now differentiated from its bigger 500m brother.
Aquaracer 300m Calibre 5- Steel Models
Kicking off with the Calibre 5 (Sellita SW200) models, we have four colour options: Black (WAY2110), White (WAY2111), Anthracite (WAY2113) and Blue (WAY2112). The last two dials have a starburst finish.
If we’re talking about the Aquaracer 500m model, then we prefer the rubber strap, but on the Steel case/ steel bezel combination of the 300m, we’d choose the bracelet ahead of the rubber option this time around.
On the Wrist
Aquaracer 300m Quartz- Steel Models
The quartz range mirrors the Calibre 5 range, although you’re out of luck if you want the Anthracite dial with a quartz movement- it’s not available. The references are WAY1110 (Black), WAY1111 (White) and WAY112 (Blue).
The 3-hand quartz range uses the Ronda 6003 movement, which has been used in the Aquaracer for several years.
On the Wrist
Aquaracer 300m Gold & Steel
The “bi-metal” models have been part of the 2000/ Aquaracer range since the early days, and it’s a look that still has a loyal following. There are two Gold options- either Rose Gold (18k 5N) or Yellow Gold (18k 3N), both of which are available with either a quartz or mechanical movement. The references for the Rose Gold models are WAY2150 (Calibre 5) and WAY1150 (quartz) while the Yellow Gold models are WAY2151 (Calibre 5) and WAY1151 (quartz).
The bezel inserts on both models are solid Gold, while the hands and indexes are Gold plated- while as mentioned previously, the bracelet links are Gold-capped.
On the Wrist
Above are the two Yellow Gold models, while the Rose Gold model is shown below.
Aquaracer 300m Alarm
The final model in the new Aquaracer 300m range is the Alarm model, which uses the Ronda 4020 movement, a movement that TAG Heuer has used for several years in their Formula 1 Alarm watches.
There are two dial options, as you see above, again in the 40.5mm steel case.WAY111Z for the Black dial and WAY111Y for the White.
On the Wrist
Price and Availability
As we’ll being telling you in the coming weeks, TAG Heuer is determined to offer more watches at the entry price points, putting an end to the significant price inflation that we’ve seen across the entire industry over the last few years. When it comes to the new Aquaracer, prices have either been held the same, or in some cases marginally reduced compared to the existing watches.
To give you an idea of proposed prices in the US, we understand the following:
- Calibre 5 Steel (bracelet): USD 2,500
- Quartz Steel (bracelet): USD 1,900
- Alarm (bracelet): USD 2,200
- Gold Calibre 5: USD 5,200
- Gold Quartz: USD 4,200
The watches themselves will be in the stores in the next few weeks, and in some markets we’ve heard that they’re already in the boutiques.
For those that like the existing Aquaracer 300m, then you’ll love new changes- a more modern take on the Aquaracer theme. We’d also expect that the aggressive pricing strategy will find plenty of takers from buyers new to the brand.