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First Look: New Aquaracer 500m Ceramic

Here are the first photos and details of the latest update to one of TAG Heuer’s most popular watches- the Aquaracer 500m ceramic watch. The Aquaracer 500m line was launched at Baselworld in 2009 as  the “Alpha male” of the Aquaracer range, with the 3-hand watch clocking in at 43mm and the Chronograph at 44mm.

The new Aquaracer sports not only a revised case and dial, but also for the first time on the Aquaracer series, a ceramic bezel. The redesign follows the same approach taken with the 2011 Link and 2012 Formula 1- an evolutionary upgrade with a focus on more classical styling, upgraded materials and “premium” detailing.

In addition to news about the 2012 Aquaracer Ceramic, TAG Heuer also announced last week a special edition of the current Aquaracer 500m series to mark the partnership with the America’s Cup Defender, Oracle Team USA.


At first glance the new Aquaracer 500m (above left) may seem similar to the 2009 model (above right), with the exception of the obviously new bezel- but when you place the two watches side-by-side, the scale of the changes becomes clearer.

Let’s start with the dial, where the vertical streaking has been replaced by horizontal streaking. In addition to this change of direction, the new pattern is more subtle than before, giving the dial a lighter appearance. Also notice that the small inner-circle on the dial has gone.

One of the distinctive features of the Aquaracer 500m watch was that the date sat at the 9 o’clock position and featured a small metal bridge linking the centre-stem to the date window. On the new model, not only has this bridge gone, but the date has returned to the traditional 3 o’clock position. The cyclops over the date has been deleted.

Moving to the case, you’ll notice that the new model has a softer design- less angular and “industrial”. Perhaps the most significant change to the case is the size, with the new model coming in at 41mm, significantly smaller than the 43mm out-going model.

Those selecting the rubber strap option will also notice that the design of the strap has changed and that the square end pieces with the exposed “Screw-Heads” has been dropped for a more conventional finish.

One of the most distinctive features of the 2009 Aquaracer 500m was the rubber bezel, with its radial pattern, applied metal minute indicators and exposed silver screw-heads. The 2012 model abandons each of these elements for a more traditional dive watch bezel- this time made from ceramic.

The main benefit of ceramic versus either aluminum or steel is that it tends to be more scratch- resistant….a benefit that owners of vintage Heuer Autavia’s would understand well. The reason that it’s scratch-resistant is that ceramic is four-times harder than steel and resists fading over time. In addition, ceramic is about 25% lighter than steel, a nice features but one that is less compelling given the relative weight of the bezel to the rest of the watch.

The last point to note is the increased number of highly polished details on the new line- the side of the case, crown, helium valve, alternating bracelet links and bezel-grips all receive the high-polish treatment.

There is no doubt that some of the distinctive elements of the original 2009 model have been lost with the 2012 redesign. The watch is more timeless in design, but also now more similar to other dive watches. So is the new design an improvement?

Clearly, the bezel design is a step forward. We’ve always advocated a move to a ceramic bezel in the traditional style (check the archive of Aquaracer articles here) and the new look is cleaner, more up-market and simply better looking. Likewise, the move to a smaller case makes sense, given the trend away from larger watches.

But as with the new Formula 1 series, some of the design boldness has gone, no better demonstrated than the Aquaracer Full Black, which loses the lurid lime highlights of the original for simple white. It’s also a shame that the date has gone back to the traditional position- it was a small design touch that gave the watch a different character.

Overall, there are more changes that improve the design rather than detract from the look. It’s likely to be a design that appeals to more people, but one that is less fashion-driven.

Aquaracer 500m Models

There are five models in the 2013 Aquaracer 500m range- four of which you see here. The fifth version is for limited release and has a Champagne dial, steel and gold case and a black bezel.

Again keeping with the precedent set by the 2011 Link and 2012 Formula 1, there are fewer dial colours offered at launch, with the standard range available with either a blue or black dial.

Blue Dial/ Blue Ceramic Bezel/ Steel

Black Dial/ Black Ceramic Bezel/ Steel

 Blue & Gold/ Steel

Full Black/ Ceramic Bezel/ Titanium Carbide Case


The Aquaracer 500m uses the Calibre 5 automatic movement (Sellita’s SW200), the same movement as the current series. For the moment, the Aquaracer 500m Chronograph continues with the existing design, but the Calibre 16 movement will now be a mix of Sellita and ETA movements (the SW500 and 7750 being basically identical).

Oracle Racing

Last week TAG Heuer celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Aquaracer/ 2000 series with an event in Venice. The event also launched two new Aquaracer models to mark the partnership with Oracle Team USA, a long-term partner of TAG Heuer and the defender of the 34th America’s Cup.

While the 2013 America’s Cup will be held in San Francisco, you can’t argue with the choice of Venice to provide the back-drop to the launch event.


TAG Heuer has a long-term association with the America’s Cup, a history which we explored last year with a look at Heuer and TAG Heuer’s history in Sailing watches, which you can read here.

Oracle 500m Watch

The first of the sailing watches is the Aquaracer 500m Oracle watch, which is based on the current Aquaracer 500m model. Both the watch and the Chronograph have a choice of two logos- either the “Defender” logo with the Golden Gate Yacht Club Flag (above), or the “Team USA” logo as seen below (Chronograph shown).

Oracle 500m Chronograph

The Calibre 16 Chronograph has additional red highlights, with the sub-dial hands. Both Chronograph and Watch versions also have a bright red “cap” on the Helium-valve, a feature only available on the Oracle Team USA watches.

Price and Availability

2013 TAG Heuer Aquaracer 500m Ceramic

These “real world” photos were taken by our friends at Ace Jewelers, a long-time supporter of Calibre 11 who have the full range of Aquaracer models.

The new 500m Ceramic went on sale in late 2012, with a price starting around CHF 2400 for the stainless steel models, CHF 2750 for the Full Black and closer to CHF 3,000 for the Steel and Gold model.

2012 TAG Heuer Aquaracer 500m Watch and Chronograph Oracle

The Aquaracer Oracle series starts at CHF 2,500 for the watch and CHF 3,750 for the Calibre 16 Chronograph and is already available in some markets.

We look forward to getting our hands on the new Aquaracer series to see how the new design fares in the cold light of day.


For a detailed review of the new Aquaracer 500m Ceramic, click here.


  • wilfreb

    41mm??? not for me, even my 500M at 43mm feels small these days.

  • Danny

    Absolutely love the new Ceramic, and am pleased the size is a little smaller since I never liked those rediculously sized watches…

    Nice piece!

  • Stephen

    Very nice but looks similar to the omega seamaster .The gold and silver one looks like the rolex two tone submariner which leaves the black one looking different to other brands

  • Himawan

    Hi David,

    The use of ceramic is definitely an advancement. But the design has lost its originality. More and more looks like Omega, as they preceded with ceramic bezel sometime ago.

    Still love my 'original version' I bought in 2010 and wont trade it with this one.

  • Charles S Williams

    Very nice, love the blue and gold and i agree its looking very Seamaster, however, i would still like to see it at 43 mm.

  • Good looking watch and I'm liking the ceramic bezel, but the styling has lost its edge, now looks like every other Dive watch..

  • Stephen

    So do we agree that the original aqua racer has kept it's originality and this one has lost it's originality looks too much like the others anyway still a great brand with a good value

  • LHL

    The addition of the ceramic seems nice. I have to bo honest though, I like the original 500m more.

  • Danny

    DC – Any info on the thickness of the 500m watch? Also, how is the back of the watch?

  • DC

    I believe that the new 500m is not as thick as the previous model and that the caseback is the Divers Helmet- not a clear caseback. Haven't seen the back yet, but I read this somewhere.


  • Jason

    A nice watch and the ceramic bezel is an improvement but I still prefer the old model. Where has the distinctiveness gone?

  • Gino

    I wonder how soon will the 300m Calibre 5 version follow?

  • DC

    Gino, not sure on what will happen with the 300m range…but yes, given that the new 500m is quite similar to the existing 300m, maybe that will get some changes as well.

    Jason, agree with your point: whether you like the new one more or less, its hard to argue that the new one is more distinctive than the old one.


  • Niall

    I have an Aquaracer Full Black (2 weeks old and unworn) for sale.It's a beautiful watch but I already own a Tag Heuer Professional 200 metre.I can supply pictures,box,papers and till receipt.I would consider an exchange for a Tag Heuer Carrera.Thanks.

  • Dunzolo

    I like this new look! When will be marketing? I want It!!!

  • DC

    Around September/ October


  • KJ

    Love this new look…nice and clean.

    Would prefer the classic triangle at 12 o'clock position on bezel be retained though. A little too empty but maybe time changes perception.

    Great one DC. Thanks!

  • Thanks KJ- agree with you on that. I'm hoping to get my hands on one of these soon to see what's its really like.


  • Drew76

    I still prefer my Aquaracer Full Black with the fluorescent yellow hour markers. Very distinctive design and gets compliments.

    The Oracle 500m Chrono looks sweet though. Any word on whether this is mainly for the US market or also available in Asia?

  • DLG

    I own the previous aquaracer 500 model, much more original than this one.

    There is no cyclop, and bezel is looking like all other.

    Not at all an improvement in design for me.

    But one remark:

    The SELLITA SW200-1 is a great movement, mine takes less than 3s a day, and is very reliable.

    Tag still a nice brand with good value !

  • Hi Drew, its a global model as far as I know- should be out soon

    DLG, fair to say that opinion is split on this one- although interested to see your feedback on the Sellita. I would like to know how the movements compare over say a 5-year period. No reason that it would be different to ETA, but would be nice to see some confirmation.


  • crumcol

    I'm thinking about the new full black model as its still distinctive & the ceramic bezel is an improvement.

    Though its hard to justify the money to buy another Tag

    • I haven't seen one of these "live" yet…but it does look good. Wish it still had the "electric lime" colour of the old model!

  • I can boast that I have such a watch TAG Heuer Aquaracer 500 m Watch and Chronograph Oracle and am extremely pleased with it. Unfortunately his strap snapped very quickly

  • Neil


    great review and I am considering buying one!

    Can I ask though if it has any AR coating on the crystal?

    (on underside or topside?)

    What sort of accuracy is typically achieved by the cal5 movement and is it reliable?




  • inb

    Hi guys,

    I know that old version of this aquaraces had problems with the crown. does this model bring some improvments?
    I am planning to buy one but don't want to have those issues.

    Thank you

  • Hi, I haven't heard of a single issue with the new Aquaracer.

    Anyone else?