Hands-on Review: Aquaracer 500m Ceramic Bezel
One of TAG Heuer’s most popular watches has been updated for 2012/ 2013- the Aquaracer 500m watch. The new model brings several improvements from the current series, most notably the use of a slimmer case and a new ceramic bezel.
The automatic Aquaracer range used to be straightforward, with two distinct choices: a case design evolved from the original Heuer/ TAG Heuer 2000 (rated to water resistance of 300m), or a larger, more angular case (rated to 500m) that boasted an innovative rubber bezel and helium escape valve. Now with the 2012 Aquaracer 500m, those lines have been blurred.
The second generation 500m is based on the Aquaracer 300m, rather than being a distinct design. While the new watch looks great, it’s now a variation of the other Aquaracers- so does that mean the new series a step forwards or backwards?
As regular readers will know, the Aquaracer series began its life as the Heuer 2000 series in 1982. The 2000 was the last watch released by Heuer under the stewardship of Jack Heuer, and evolved into the TAG Heuer 2000 in 1986 (above). As part of the new naming strategy to distance TAG Heuer from the 1000/ 15000/ 2000/ 4000/ 6000 era, the 2000 series was relaunched as the Aquaracer at the end of 2004.
The 2000/ Aquaracer models always stayed true to the original case design, simply updating movements, finishes and dial designs along the way. This changed in 2009 when the Aquaracer 5oom family was launched- here was a larger, squared-edged case with a rubber bezel, over-sized crown and helium-escape valve (see below).
The 500m models gave the Aquaracer series a bolder, more modern design and one that proved popular, with both a quartz and automatic range of watches, including the “Full Black” Aquaracer with its bright lime highlights. The series was a winner. So why have TAG Heuer changed the formula?
Let’s clear up one of the key questions about the new watch: the new Aquaracer 500m uses the same case as the Aquaracer 300m series, but with a thicker case back and bezel. If you think of the watch in three sections (case back, case and bezel), then the only external difference between the case of the two variants is the helium valve on the 500m models.
Inside the case, many components (such as gaskets) have been beefed up on the 500m to ensure water resistance to a greater depth.
It also means a 41mm case (down from 43mm) and the sharp edges of the out-going series replaced by the gentle curves of the original Heuer 2000. The similarities between the Aquaracer 300m and new 500m watches are clear when you see the two together: