With the onslaught of the usual Basel launches delayed due to the impact of COVID-19, we have the chance to shine the spotlight on one of the lower-profile 2020 TAG Heuers- the new Aquaracer Calibre 7 GMT, reference WAY201T.
GMT, of course, stands for Greenwich Mean Time, and is used in the watch world to indicate a watch that shows a second time-zone by combining a GMT hand and a rotating bezel. Generally in TAG Heuer’s world, these time-zone watches are branded as a “Twin Time“, but the “GMT” label has also been used over the years, as we’ll explain shortly.
The GMT has been a popular model in the Aquaracer 300m series over the recent years, with the current “Pepsi” model approaching three years old and therefore due for a fresh look to keep pace with other dual time-zone watches in the market.
The standout feature of the new watch is the black and blue bezel, known colloquially as a “Batman” bezel, in honour of the caped crusader’s own colour choices. Batman it may be, but is is also the elephant in the room when it comes to this watch, thanks to that colour combination’s Rolex origins.
History of the Heuer/ TAG Heuer’s GMT
The first time that we saw the ubiquitous red and blue GMT bezel on a TAG Heuer watch was the 1968 Autavia 2446 GMT, with various Autavia models following this colour choice through to the mid-1980s. Of course, this was not a Heuer innovation- Rolex had introduced the blue and red “Pepsi” bezel in the mid-1950s on its GMT Master, a style that continues today.
There have been other dual time zone watches from Heuer’s past, many of these carrying the “Twin Time” moniker, such as this wonderful example from the 1950s.
But while there are no questions on the true origin of the Pepsi bezel, nor can there be any doubt over Heuer/ TAG Heuer’s own legitimate history with the red and blue bezel, with several classic Autavia designs stretching back more than 50 years.
TAG Heuer- The Black and Blue “Batmans”
To mark the launch of its new “Cerachrom” (ceramic) bezel in 2013, Rolex redesigned (well, re-coloured) its GMT bezel, launching a new GMT Master II with a two-tone blue and black bezel. And just like the 1950s original, TAG Heuer quickly moved to pick up this styling feature, offering a blue and black bezel on the 2014 Formula 1 series, and on several watches since.
While there is no doubt that the blue and black combination looks great, we’d prefer to stick with the Pepsi bezel, given its Heuer heritage, or to use a new set of colours (Red and Green?) that TAG Heuer can make its own. Having said that, given the disparity in the price point and availability between a GMT Master II (some 5X the price and with a two-year wait for the Rolex) and the Aquaracer GMT, the two watches are hardly competitors.
The Aquaracer today carries forward the torch for TAG Heuer’s GMT lineage, with two recent models- 2014’s Aquaracer 500m GMT– the first to feature a ceramic bezel- and the 2017 GMT Calibre 7 which brought back the famous Pepsi bezel to a TAG Heuer for the first time since the Autavia.
Both these watches use the same Calibre 7 movement as the 2020 model- an ETA 2893-2. While the Calibre 7 can use either a Sellita or ETA base, the ETA version has a slightly higher power reserve (46 vs. 42 hours) and with TAG Heuer claiming a 46 hour power reserve, we can conclude that it is indeed an ETA heart inside the new Aquaracer.
2020 Aquaracer Calibre 7 GMT
The 2020 GMT uses the standard 43mm stainless steel Aquaracer case and bracelet- indeed, this is the same case and bezel as the 2017 Pepsi GMT model. What sets this year’s model apart is the blue dial- a beautiful starburst blue.
And of course, there is that bezel, Irrespective of the origins, the black and blue aluminium bezel looks great with the new blue dial and gives the watch a real presence. The GMT hand has also been updated with a fresh coat of blue paint to complete the look.
The lume on the Aquaracer is a standout, with two shades of Superluminova used- green and lime- as shown in the image below.
How the GMT Function Works
Back when we reviewed the 2017 Aquaracer GMT, we wrote a brief explanation on how to use the GMT function- given these two watches use the same movement, we’ve re-printed that explanation here for those trying to understand just how to use their new Aquaracer GMT.
There are several different types of GMT complications, but the one offered here is one of the simplest. The crown has three positions, just as with the standard Calibre 7 movement, but with additional functionality on the second position. As you can see by the diagram below, the crown is pulled out to position 2 to change the date and the GMT hand, and pulled out to position 3 to move the main timekeeping hands.
When the crown is in position 2, you turn the crown anti-clockwise to change the date and clockwise to move the GMT hand forward- you can only move the date and GMT hand forward.
The easiest way to set the GMT hand is on the hour, that is, when the minute hand is at 12 o’clock. If you wanted to leave the watch showing time in your home city, then at the change of the hour you’d simply rotate the crown clockwise to move the GMT hand so that the arrow lines up to the current local hour on the 24 hour bezel.
There are other ways of indicating a second time zone- for example, moving the bezel, but the method above is the easiest and fastest. The technique described above means that the hour and minute hand continue to show the time in your home city, while the GMT hand will point to the local time and is read from the 24 hour bezel.
Price and Availability- Aquaracer WAY201T
The 2020 Aquaracer Calibre 7 GMT is priced at US$3,050 in the United States, some $200 more than the outgoing Pepsi Aquaracer GMT, which costs US$2,850. The watch is only sold on the stainless steel bracelet you see here, but there are an extensive range of rubber straps designed for the 43mm Aquaracer case should you wish to customise the look.
With many TAG Heuer outlets around the world either temporarily closed, or working reduced hours, you can buy the watch online at www.tagheuer.com should your local Authorised Dealer not be open.