Colour is one of the characteristics that has historically set Heuer/ TAG Heuer apart from other brands. Whether it’s the bright 1970s Montreal or the lurid colour palette offered on the 1980s Formula 1 series, TAG Heuer has never been afraid to step outside the monochrome region of the colour wheel.
Or at least that how it used to be, because under the Jean-Christophe Babin-led drive to push the brand up-market in the early 2010s, TAG Heuer trimmed back the options, with many models being only offered with a Black or White dial…maybe a Blue if you were lucky. Well, colour is back, and back in a big way for 2016 with three new watches in the Aquaracer 300m Calibre 5 range- Blue, Red and “Sand” models featuring brightly-coloured dials and straps.
We’ve managed to get our hands on two of the new models to check out what has to be the perfect summer TAG Heuer. Only two? Yes, the Red watch sadly wasn’t available at the time of our photo shoot, and there are only a handful of photos of this model currently available. We’ll update the post with more photos as soon as we get them.
The new 2016 Aquaracers are some of the most photogenic TAG Heuer’s we had the pleasure of photographing for some time, so we’ve gone heavy on the images and lighter on the text, as the base watch is one that we’ve reviewed before.
The trio are each based on an enlarged version of the Aquaracer 300m Calibre 5 Titanium reference WAY218A, which means a titanium case blackened with titanium carbide. However while the standard model limits its use of colour to the yellow stitching on the strap, the new models splash Red, Blue or Sand highlights across the strap, bezel and dial to provide three very different choices.
Case and Bezel
The Aquaracer uses the classic TAG Heuer 2000/ Aquaracer case, with the 2016 model ?hitting the tape at 43mm, rather than the 41mm case of WAY218A. TAG Heuer is a believer in larger-diameter watches, and while that doesn’t work on all models, we’re going to give theses Aquaracers a pass: these are not watches that you’ll need to worry about slipping under the sleeve of your cuff-linked dress shirt..this range is for the weekend.
Each model offers a unidirectional turning bezel with black faceted ceramic inlay: engraved, red/blue/sand lacquered numerals depending on the model. Finally, the screw-in crown is sandblasted steel, also coated in matching black titanium carbide.
The lacquered numerals on the ceramic bezel look fantastic in their bright colours, immediately setting the watch apart from the other Aquaracers.
The Sand model mixes up the colour scheme slightly, with the use of an Orange triangle at 12 o’clock and running seconds hand- it’s great looking colour combination and our favourite of the range.
Dial and Lume
The base dial for each model is the same- a matte black dial with horizontal streak effect. So far, so normal. What differs between models is the colour of the hand-applied polished and faceted indexes, each filled with grey luminescent markers.
The colour is matched to a Red, Blue or Sand polished and faceted hour and minute hands, also with grey luminescent. As noted above, while the Red and Blue models get a matching central seconds hand, the Sand model opts for Orange instead.
Finally, the “AQUARACER” & “CALIBRE 5 – AUTOMATIC – 300 m / 1000 ft” lettering on the dial matches the colour scheme of your chosen dial.
One of the features the revised Aquaracer 300m borrowed from its older 500m brother was the magnifying lens above the 3 o’clock date window, and the “cyclops” makes an appearance on the new models, as you can see on the photos above and below.
What about the lume you ask? As you can see from this official TAG Heuer photo that the over-sized hour-markers offers the benefit of over-sized bright lume.
One of the innovations of the revised Aquaracer 300m series introduced last year was the new nylon straps, which look and feel fantastic. They make such a nice change from the usual rubber or leather strap options and give the watch a smart, modern feel.
The strap colours are as follows:
- Red-dial: Black nylon strap with red stitching
- Blue dial: Blue nylon strap with black stitching
- Sand dial: Sand strap with white stitching
We love these new straps, which is just as well, because if you like this watch there is no bracelet option. That suits us just fine, because on a watch like this a strap is the way to go.
Securing the strap is the standard TAG Heuer deployant clasp, which is made from Black titanium carbide coated titanium and finished with the updated TAG Heuer shield.
No surprises here at the back of the watch- it’s the standard titanium-carbide coated caseback with the traditional Diving Bell engraving. Sitting under the caseback is TAG Heuer’s Calibre 5, which is a Sellita SW200 automatic movement.
Aquaracer 300m Titanium Red- WAY208A
Kicking off the range is the Red model- the only one that we haven’t been able to photograph yet, so instead we have these two photographs from UK retailer David M Robinson’s Instagram account. As noted above, the Red model is the only one to feature a black nylon strap, presumably because TAG Heuer felt that a bright Red strap would be a little too much…even for this watch.
Aquaracer 300m Titanium Blue- WAY208B
When we first saw the official press photo, we assumed that the shade of blue for the production model would be toned down somewhat, but even allowing for the differences between a watch in “real life” compared to the studio, it’s a particularly bright and bold blue- which is perfect for this watch.
While the Blue pops beautifully on the black bezel, that’s not quite the case for the blue text and finishing on the dial. Depending on the angle of the dial, we found the Blue more challenging to read than the Sand/ Orange combo. You can see from the three photos below that the legibility does depend somewhat on the angle of the photo.
Aquaracer 300m Titanium Sand- WAY208C
If it’s contrast that you want, then the Sand model is the one for you. The Sand and Orange combination is bright and legible on the Black base dial. Heuer and TAG Heuer have made several Blue or Red themed watches in the past, but the Sand colour is a new idea and suits the character of the watch perfectly.
OK, enough with the studio shots, let’s see what the two watches look like on the wrist.
Aquaracer Sand- WAY208C
Aquaracer Blue- WAY208B
2016 TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300m Titanium Blue/ Red/ Sand- Price and Availability
The three new Aquaracers will be on sale from September, with confirmed UK pricing at GBP2,100, a price that undercuts the 41mm standard titanium model by about GBP150. No final word yet on availability, but we expect that these will be on limited release (not a limited edition) than being part of the standard range.
Let’s be clear about the new coloured Aquaracers- these are watches designed for the weekend, or maybe for the work week if you’re not a suit and tie kind of guy. Many models in the Aquaracer range can be worn with a suit, but this isn’t one of them. But assuming that you’re in the market for a colourful sporty watch, then this is one of the best.
It’s been a year for bright watches- Audemars Piguet has launched a range of colourful Royal Oak Offshore Chronographs, and Omega has followed suit with multi-coloured Planet Oceans. The Aquaracer is obviously priced well below the others, but gives a similar look and feel for less.
- TAG Heuer brings back bold and sporty colours
- The Sand model has the perfect dial- who would have thought that Sand and Orange would be a winning colour combination?
- Titanium case at this price point is a winner
- The nylon strap is a perfect choice for the watch- looks good and light-weight
- When we reviewed the titanium 41mm model, we said that the hour-markers felt 20% too big. Nothing has changed- they still are
- Blue strap looks great, but we’d like better legibility for the Blue dial
- The Red model has a Black strap…why not go the whole hog and offer a bright Red strap?
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