In Depth Review: Aquaracer 300m Ceramic Bezel Calibre 5
The refresh of TAG Heuer’s Aquaracer range is complete with the unveiling of the new Aquaracer 300m Ceramic Bezel Calibre 5, the companion watch to the Aquaracer 300m Chronograph we showed you back in April. The 300m Ceramic bezel models replace the popular Aquaracer 500m, which was part of the range since 2010. Given the similarities between the two series it was perhaps inevitable that the range would be rationalised, but we still hope that TAG Heuer continues development of hard-core dive watches in the tradition of the Aquagraph and the Super Professional.
The new range features not only a family of steel cased models with different colour combinations, but also a pair of titanium divers to give the range an even greater point of difference to other Aquaracers.
We had the chance to get up close with the new titanium twins for an extended review, which means plenty of photos as we look at the newest Aquaracer from every angle.
The new Aquaracer is the second model in the Aquaracer 300m Calibre 5 family, alongside the steel bezel model (above left) launched in the middle of 2014. The two watches share many elements, but the ceramic bezel model has a more sporty feel with its larger hands, polished hour-markers, cyclops above the date window, and of course a glossy ceramic bezel in place of the brushed steel bezel.
And speaking of those hour-markers, they’re a feature that’s hard to ignore. Perhaps it’s the size (they feel about 20% too big to our eyes), but they do seem to have an “ultra shine” finish, meaning that they dominate the dial, especially at the 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock positions. The dial itself continues the horizontal streak look of the Aquaracer family and successfully gives the dial a depth missing from traditional flat-black dials.
The benefit of those large hour-markers is that the dial has plenty of lume- both green and blue tones.
The other new element of hardware on the dial are the new hour and minute hands. These blocky hands feature the TAG Heuer shield in the point of the hand.
One of the more interesting models in the range is the Phantom model (shown below) that goes for that “ultra-stealth” Black-on-Black look. The watch uses dark grey lume to complete the act. There is not much point worrying about the legibility of this model- it’s not designed to be legible, it’s designed with a specific style in mind. Later in the review we’ll show you how the watch looks in real-world conditions so you can work out if the Phantom is for you.
Finally, as you can see below, the cyclops makes a return to the Aquaracer range to help magnify the date window.
The base case is the same as the other Aquaracer 300m Calibre 5 models, with only the thicker bezel giving the watch a higher profile. All models are 41mm, 2mm smaller than the Calibre 16 Chronograph. The combination of what we think is the “right” size for a watch (41mm) and the relatively thin profile means that the size of the watch is bang-on perfect
The look of the case traces its origins back to the Heuer 2000 series of 1982- the last Heuer model launched by Jack Heuer.
The case has just the right combination of curves and hard-edges….plenty of TAG Heuer heritage flows through the Aquaracer, but in a design that certainly doesn’t look 33 years old.
Being a diving watch, there is no clear caseback here- just the traditional divers helmet.
Aquaracer 300m Ceramic Range
The first of the Aquaracers features a black dial and matching black ceramic bezel, with yellow detailing (the “Calibre 5” script and the tip of the sweeping seconds hand). This model is available with either the bracelet shown in this photo (not the H-Shaped links available on the Steel bezel Aquaracer 300m), or a black nylon strap with yellow stitching.
Now is probably the time to talk about the nylon strap- we love it. The strap has a soft colorful rubber lining on the inside of the strap and look and feels great. Without a doubt, if you are buying this watch, go for the strap ahead of the bracelet as it gives the watch a real presence.
The second black-dial model offers blue highlights on the dial, ranging from the Calibre 5 script, the sweeping seconds hand (not just a coloured tip) and blue minute markers on the dial. Matching these details is a deep blue ceramic bezel. Officially, this model is only available with the nylon strap shown above, this time with blue stitching.
The Black/ Blue is an unusual combination from TAG Heuer, which usually matches the bezel colour to the dial, but one that looks great.
But if matching dial and bezel colour is important to you, then there is this model with a blue/ blue finish. Note that the solid coloured sweeping seconds hand is replaced with a steel finish, and this time we have orange detailing on the dial- note that there is no nylon strap option with Orange stitching.
Aquaracer WAY218A Black
The Black model features a Grade 2 Titanium case coated in Titanium-carbide to give the watch the stealth look- although that has been trumped by the Phantom we’ll show you shortly. The two titanium models are only available with the nylon strap- there is no titanium/ black bracelet.
Along with Ref. WAY211B this is our favourite of the new range.
Aquaracer WAY218B Phantom Edition
The second titanium model is one that is bound to divide opinion- the Aquaracer 300m Phantom, which is a limited edition of 2,500 watches. In reality, the watch is not quite as stealth as the image above would suggest- as you can see below, the grey lume on the hour-markers and hands does provide some, albeit limited, contrast.
The legibility of the Phantom is highly dependent on the light and the angle- contrast the photos above and below.
Aquaracer WAY211F Jeremy Lin
The Jeremy Lin Aquaracer 300m Ceramic is a non-numbered limited edition of only 200 watches, with a starburst anthracite dial and bright yellow highlights, including a solid yellow sweeping second and minute hand. We had a chance to check out the prototype version of this watch earlier in the year (below), which had yellow finishing on the bezel (12 o’clock triangle and the “10” minute marker), but lacks the yellow inner ring of the final model shown above.
On the Wrist
Calibre 5 vs. Calibre 16
You can see the size difference- both in diameter and case depth- between the Calibre 5 model (above left) and the Calibre 16 (above right). While the Calibre 5 shades its bigger brother in looks, we have to say that the over-sized hour markers are less of an issue on the larger dial of the Chronograph.
Price and Availability
The TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300m Calibre 5 Ceramic Bezel steel models will be in stores in October, with the two titanium watches to follow a month later. Pricing has been confirmed as follows:
- Steel Case- Nylon Strap- US$2,400/ EUR2,150
- Steel Case- Steel bracelet- US$2,550/ EUR2,300
- Titanium Black- US$3000/ EUR2,700
- Titanium Phantom- US$3000/ EUR2,700
- Jeremy Lin Edition- US$2,400/ EUR2,150
And consistent with TAG Heuer’s pricing strategy, that pricing is very sharp. Almost two years ago the equivalent Aquaracer 500m Calibre 5 retailed for approximately 25% more than the new models- good value for sure.
More than 30 years after its launch, the Aquaracer remains a cornerstone of the TAG Heuer range and battles in the highly competitive diving watch segment. We prefer the coloured ceramic bezel to the desk-diving look of the steel bezel model, especially on the new nylon straps. Pricing is sharp despite the appreciation of the Swiss Franc and retains most of the looks of the more expensive Aquaracer 500m model, losing only the helium escape valve which, while functional, serves only a decorative purpose for most owners.
Good looks, solid price and plenty of colour options make this one of the best Aquaracers in some time.
- Black titanium model looks great with the yellow-stitching on the nylon strap
- Black and Blue? Yes, the Black dial with the Blue bezel looks fantastic, especially with the electric blue hand
- We’ve mentioned it a few times- but price is hard not to like
- Blue and Green lume is a nice touch
- Shave 20% off those hour-markers- too big and too shiny
- Phantom model isn’t for everyone, as it looks cool but is hard to read quickly
- The Aquaracer still cries out for a range-topping premium model. Hard-core please.
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