OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hands-on Review: TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300m

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.

2014 TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300mAnd 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.

TAG Heuer Aquaracer WAY1112 QuartzWe 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.

Design

TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300m Calibre 5- AnthraciteThere 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).

TAG Heuer 2000- HistoryWhile 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

2014 TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300m Blue DialThere 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.

Case

TAG Heuer Aquaracer WAY2110 Calibre 5The 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

TAG Heuer Aquaracer WAY2110- Rubber strapThere 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.

TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300m Calibre 5- Black DialThe 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.

TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300m Rose Gold WAY2150Those 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?

TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300m Old vs. NewThe 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.

TAG Heuer 2010 Aquaracer 500M Calibre 5In 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.

TAG Heuer Aquaracer 500m Ceramic vs. Aquaracer 300mAnd 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

Aquaracer 300m Old vs. New

  • 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

TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300m Calibre 5

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

2014 TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300m Calibre 5 Black Dial

2014 TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300m Calibre 5- Blue Dial

2014 TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300m Calibre 5- Anthracite Dial

2014 TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300m Calibre 5- Black Dial

Aquaracer 300m Quartz- Steel Models

TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300m QuartzThe 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

2014 TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300m Quartz

Aquaracer 300m Gold & Steel

TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300m Gold and 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

2014 TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300m Gold & Steel

2014 TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300m Calibre 5- Gold & SteelAbove are the two Yellow Gold models, while the Rose Gold model is shown below.

2014 TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300m- Gold & Steel Quartz

Aquaracer 300m Alarm

TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300m AlarmThe 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

2014 TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300m Alarm

2014 TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300m Alarm

2014 TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300m Alarm

 Price and Availability

2014 TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300m Calibre 5- Blue Dial WAY2112As 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.

***

  • Enrico

    Nice to see the case diminished a little bit, moving away from the large-watch-race. Although they are indeed beautiful, I still tend to like the “curved” shape on the sides of the 2010 model better. I think that curvature is a bit more faithful to the 2000 Classic design. Nonetheless, very nice to see the overall design still honoring the past of the company, and the history of the 2000 series. Great review!

    • calibre11

      Thanks Enrico. Yes, I guess we have the Aquaracer 500m with the curved case.

      Cheers

  • DM.

    Don’t want to say it but the changes gives it a Royal Oak vibe without being a copy, which is a good thing in my books. I’ve long wondered why that beautiful shiney blue was only available in quartz and it looks like I’ve been answered.

    I do also prefer the bezel without that inner ring and losing that gives us more of that brushed vs polished on the bezel which is where so much of the character lies.

    I think this has just topped the blue 500m as a second (Ok… Fifth…) diving watch. I don’t have an all steel one and this one looks to be a stunner.

    • calibre11

      And I do think that the blue on the Calibre 5 is more interesting that the quartz blue…those vertical streaks make for a more interesting dial in my view.

      And yes, I agree with you that in the past I would have always chosen the Aquaracer 500m…but I’m not so sure now.

    • Grady Philpott

      Not only an RO vibe, but a PP Nautilus/Aquanaut vibe, as well.

      Nice looking watch, though.

  • Andy

    So is TAG going to update the 300m blue/black aluminum bezel Aquaracers? Those are due for at least a clasp upgrade (I am thinking of getting one but can’t get over that cheap clasp).

    • calibre11

      No sure Andy. The clasp on the new H-Link bracelet is very good I think. I’ve been critical of the feel of some of their clasps in the past (e.g. Formula 1)

  • DM.

    Just spotted something:

    Are you sure the bezels on the gold models are solid?
    I know the previous rose-gold and steel model (wap2150) does have a solid gold bezel but these images looks like the gold part is an insert.

    • calibre11

      You’re right- the insert is Solid Gold, not the entire bezel. I’ll update the wording to make that clear

      dc

  • Gops

    What about calibre 16 chronograph range?

    • calibre11

      Only a matter of time….

  • geno

    thanx for the review as I am now the proud owner of a WAY2110. the last pic on page 1 shows a white date with a black background, not what I have or shown on the other pics?

    • calibre11

      Hi Geno- congrats. The watches that I saw and photographed were prototypes from Basel. There are often small, detailed changes made before the watch goes into production.

  • Leon

    Thanks for the great review and comparisons, just got myself a WAY2112, the shimmering dark blue dial has to be the most beautiful dial in my collection. However, I noted 1 flaw, the lume dot on the bezel is not aligned sharply with the 12 oclock, I have made a complain to the dealer today, it seems all the remaining pieces WAY2112 in their stock also having the same problem! I have had a look at other Aquaracer models with rotating bezel, it’s not difficult to find a few more pieces having the same problem. Im not sure what to do now. Comment Aquaracer owners?

    • calibre11

      Hi Leon- it’s a beautiful blue…congrats. Do you have a photo of the Bezel/ pip?

      David

      • Leon

        Hi David, not the best picture i have got, i have cropped out the section for your reference, if one click before, the lume dot on the bezel will sit on the right hand side of the 12 o’clock small triangle on the dial, it will never sit at the dead center of 12 o’clock position. Im not sure if i send back to the service center they can do anything about it, looks like a manufacturer quality control issue.

        • calibre11

          Hi Leon- try sending the photo to info@calibre11.com

          • Leon

            Hi David, i’m sorry probably i should not post the photos on your blog, i will send it to the email address you mentioned, thanks.

  • geno

    hi leon and david, my WAY2110 is off a bit as well, just like pics 1&2 on page 1 and pics 3&4/7 on page 2. pic 1 on page 2 is nicely aligned. david- are we imagining things?

    • calibre11

      Hi Geno,

      Very hard to tell without seeing the watch. The live photos in this post were from prototype watches, so it’s not that unusual for the fit and finish on these not to be perfect- they’re used for showing dealers and to lend to the press.

      If you’ve got concerns, I’d take it back to the dealer and see what they can do.

      dc

  • Randall Clement

    Has anyone seen the Aquaracer that the Idaho Youth Ranch has for auction on ebay? Just wondering what the low down is. I have been unable to verify what model it is. On the back it says CN BA 0337. 200 METERS. On the face , near the date window, it says 300 meters?

    • calibre11

      Do you have a link? Something doesn’t sound right: BA0337 sounds more like a bracelet/ strap reference that for a watch.

  • Lew

    Does anyone know if the bracelet on the Way2112 (the blue automatic Calibre 5) tapers down to the clasp or if it stays one width all the way through?

  • WSCF

    Hi my tag has a the following numbers way2111 rmf3496. I bought it from the authorized dealer. But I heard tags have a serial number with only 2letters and 4 numbers