Last Updated on August 17, 2020 by Calibre 11
While the mainstays of the TAG Heuer collection today are the Monaco, Autavia and Carrera, things were very different 20 years ago when the re-editions were merely a novelty, rather than mainstream models.
The 1000 and 2000 Series were the models that came to symbolise TAG Heuer, but while the 1000 was the first TAG Heuer diving watch, it was a relatively simple range that changed little over the years. The 2000 Series was available in a dizzying array of models- in both automatic and quartz movements and in dive watches, chronographs and even a USD50,000 Chronometer version.
While the 2000 is known by most watch collectors today, the series never got the credit that it deserved for the quality of the movements fitted in the first Heuer series- a Chronograph module that would later be used by Audemars Piguet in its Royal Oak Offshore and a quartz chronograph with the same design principle as today’s TAG Heuer Calibre S. The series started as the Heuer 2000 in the dark days of 1982 when Heuer’s banks seized control of the company and finally bowed out in 2005 as the TAG Heuer 2000. Along the way, there were many variants- some good, some not-so-good and a one in particular that is a modern classic.
Generation 1: Heuer 2000 Series
The success of the 1000 in the late 1970s and early 1980s posed something of a dilemma for Heuer- after all, the company prided itself as being a maker of precision chronographs, yet the 1000 was a quartz diving watch. The new model was an attempt to build on the popularity of the 1000 Diver, but to extend the range into quartz and automatic chronographs.
Designed by Eddie Schopfer, the design had a flatter, more elegant case than the 1000 Series, an upgraded bracelet (replacing the cheap-feeling “jubilee” bracelet of the 1000), a unique dial and a new bezel design that “borrowed” less from the Rolex Submariner template. The watch was a “softer” and more modern design that the 1000 series, but still used several key elements of the 1000 design, include the crown guard and the “Mercedes-Benz” style hand (on the non-chrono. versions). The watch was also the first TAG Heuer model to boast the “Six Features” that would prove the guiding philosophy of the brands design through to the late 1990s.
The Heuer 2000 diver watch was available in two versions. The first (top photo, below) featured a black aluminium bezel insert and a dial with small triangular hour markers, except for the baguette-style markers at 9 and 6 o’clock and an over sized triangle at 12 o’clock. The second version of the diver watch (bottom photo, above) had a stainless steel bezel with six “grip points”. This dial had baguette-style hour markers, except for the circle at 9 and 6 o’clock and a diamond-shape marker at 12 o’clock. It was this style that endured through to 2005 as the classic look of the series. While later models would offer the 2000 as an automatic, the Heuer 2000 watch was only available with a quartz movement.
Like the 2000 watch, the 2000 Chronograph was also available with either a coloured aluminium insert bezel, or the stainless steel bezel design seen on the models below. As you can also see from the photo below, the 2000 series was launched during the two-tone colour era, which is making something of a comeback today. As I write this, I am wearing a PVD Titanium Grand Carrera Calibre 17- with a Rose Gold bezel- looking very much like it took its design from the 266.006 you see below.
The movements used in the Heuer 2000 Series are actually quite remarkable. Many think of the 2000 as being an entry-level quartz watch, but actually the movement has far more to it than that. Both the quartz and automatic chronographs use the Dubois Depraz 2000 chronograph module. The Automatic movement (LWO 283) mates the DD2000 module to the ETA 2892 base, while the quartz movement (Calibre 185) uses a ESA 555.XXX (also known as the ETA 955.XXX) tractor.
The Dubois Depraz 2000 module was the result of a partnership between Lemania and Dubois Depraz that began in the late 1970s. Because Heuer contributed to the funding of the project, the LWO 283 was initially exclusive to Heuer, but when Lemania sold its shares in Heuer in 1984 to TAG, the use of the movement became more widespread. Lemania sold the movement as the Lemania 283 to several high-end clients such as Audemars Piguet in their Royal Oak Offshore, Girard Perregaux (7000 Chronograph) and Baume et Mercier.
The quartz chronograph was effectively a forerunner of the Calibre S movement, combing a quartz base with a mechanical chronograph module.
Other Early 2000 Models
There were no shortage of model variants of the early Heuer 2000 series. In addition to the models outlined above, there was also a fixed bezel model (below, top right) and yet another bezel variation (top left) with the words “Heuer 2000” printed on the bezel. These two models shared another variation of the Heuer 2000 dial- the hour lume markers being unique to these two models. Finally, there are two special PVD versions of the Quartz 2000 Chrono featured in the 1983 Heuer catalogue. While these models are supposedly part of the series, in reality they have little to do with the rest of the range. The square case is more reminiscent of the Lemania Heuer Carrera and Cortina models and the jubilee bracelet is something featured on no other 2000 watch. I suspect that these designs are a hang-over from the early 1980s Lemania era and somehow were thrown in with the 2000 range at the last minute- they’re cool looking watch, but they’re not a 2000 in my mind.
The TAG Heuer 2000 Series
Following the creation of TAG Heuer in 1985, most of the Heuer range continued as TAG Heuer models, with only small details being changed. It’s fairly common to see watches from this era with a mix of parts- for example, a TAG Heuer dial, but matched with a Heuer bracelet- it was simply a case of the new company using the old Heuer parts until they ran out. The series carried on essentially unchanged- the only difference being that most models dropped the word “Quartz” from the dial and moved the “2000” marking from just under the Heuer logo to sitting above the 6 o’clock area. The word “Professional” was now featured on almost all models, resulting in many people calling the watch the TAG Heuer 2000 Professional, even though the watch never had that name officially.
TAG Heuer also added additional models variations, including the quirky Tristar 2000 of 1985. The Tristar 2000 (see below) was a fixed bezel version of the 2000 watch and featured a bespoke bezel with three gold stars. The Tristar only lasted a year or two in the catalogues, and I’ve never seen one for sale, so they’re nothing if not rare! Bigger changes came in 1989 with the launch of the Super 2000, which remained in the catalogue until 1994. The Super 2000 was essentially an up-market 2000 Series offering a distinct look to the rest of the range. The design featured six gold TAG Heuer logos on the bezel, bespoke gold Chrono pushers and crown, a newly designed set of hands and a cyclops over the date. Most of these watches came with a leather strap, such as the example below.
1991: New Movements/ New Quartz Chronograph
1990 was the last year of the original Dubois Depraz- based chronograph movements, with the 1991 models instead using the ETA 251.262 (Quartz Chrono), ETA/ Valjoux 7750 (Automatic Chrono.) and for the first time an Automatic watch, which used the ETA 2824-2 movement. Cosmetically, the main change was the introduction of a coloured TH logo and several new case designs, such as the 540.206 model below that borrowed its bezel design from the TAG Heuer Super Professional. The 540.206 was typical of the new 2000 quartz chronographs, in that the sub-dial placement moved to a 10 o’clock, 2 o’clock and 6 o’clock layout, a design shared with other quartz chronograph TAG Heuer models of the same era, such as the 6000. 1994 was the last year that the coloured aluminium bezel variant was offered- from now on, the 2000 would offer a steel bezel. This was also that last year of the Super 2000, which would be phased out when the new TAG Heuer 2000 Series was released the following year.
Generation 2: 1995 TAG Heuer 2000 Series
TAG Heuer released the second generation series in 1995, being the first time that the model range had been re-designed since 1982. As you’d expect for the revision of such a successful range, the design changes were subtle. The key design changes were:
- Hour marker re-designed, and embossed featuring metal surrounds
- Mew bezel design, now with 12 angles- replaced the round bezel on the old series
- Embossed “12” at the 12 o’clock mark
- Re-designed bezel grips, now in a high-polish finish
- Upgraded case design- now a combination of brushed and polished stainless steel
- Re-designed crown guard
- Upgraded bracelet with polished centre links
While the above makes for a long list, the new look succeeded in that it was clearly a 2000 series, but was just different enough to look more modern and up-market than the older design.
Generation 3: 1998 TAG Heuer 2000
Further significant changes came in 1998 when TAG Heuer simplified and re-organised the 2000 series into three distinct models- Classic, Sport and Exclusive.
The 2000 Classic- top right in the photo above- is essentially the 2000 model from the 1995 re-design that continued almost unchanged, although some models would revert back from the coloured TAG Heuer logo to a mono-chrome logo.
The TAG Heuer 2000 Exclusive (top left) would eventually form the design basis for today’s Aquaracer series, and was the most ambitious of the new designs. The watch featured large numerals at 12, 6 and 9 o’clock and polished hour batons at the other hours. This design introduced a new hand design and a larger, more modern bezel, which is still used today.
The 2000 Sport was a short-lived model (phased out in 2000) that re-introduced the coloured aluminium bezel to the 2000 series and featured a unique dial with numerals marking each hour.
Specialist 2000 Series
As the TAG Heuer 2000 series entered its third decade, the company continued to offer a range of niche 2000 models- three of the better-known of these are the Multigraph, the Aquagraph and the Gold 2000 Chronometre.
2000 Classic Multigraph
TAG Heuer released several watches in the early 2000s that re-introduced digital read-outs to watches- the Kirium, Formula 1, Monaco 69 and Microtimer were all examples- as was this 2000 Classic Multigraph below. The watch was a nice combination of the old and the new- the case design from the 2000 Classic (itself closely related to the original 1982 model), but teamed with a digital read-out that could be turned off when not needed. The watch featured a bespoke crown used to toggle between functions.
Through the good and the bad years of the 1980s and 90s, TAG Heuer has always had an outstanding dive watch- the 1000m and the Super Professional- and the Aquagraph well and truly maintained the tradition. The Aquagraph is perhaps the ultimate 2000 Series, offering a range of bespoke features, such as the unique dial design, the Calibre 60 movement (again bringing back a Dubois-Depraz chronograph module to the 2000 Series) and a larger 42mm case. When people talk of modern classics, one of the first TAG Heuer watches that I think of is the Aquagraph- a true tool watch and one that is still available at great prices, even though the range is only now being phased out.
TAG Heuer 2000 Exclusive Gold
While the 2000 Aquagraph is an outstanding high-point in the 2000 series, the same can’t be said for the Solid Gold 2000 Chronometres that were offered in the early 2000s. The basic Gold watch (WN5140) featured a Chronometre Calibre 5 movement (ETA 2824-2)and retailed for well over USD10,000. if that wasn’t bling enough, there was always the WN5141 (below) featuring a diamond accented bezel and dial (plus a sapphire at top of the bezel and on the crown) and a price tag of close to USD50,000.
There is nothing wrong with the watches themselves, but they miss the point of the series, which was always about an affordable, stylish but simple divers watch- not a solid gold masterpiece costing the earth.
Generation 4: TAG Heuer 2000 Aquaracer
In 2004 TAG Heuer released the last major updated to the series- the 2000 Aquaracer. The 2000 Aquaracer brought back the coloured aluminium bezel and introduced a dial design that borrowed a little from the successful Aquagraph. The watch was available as both an automatic and quartz, and is essentially the same watch that TAG Heuer sell today as the TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300m. But more significant than the watch itself was the new name, which would be the first time that TAG Heuer used the Aquaracer name and was the last new 2000 Series watch released before TAG Heuer dropped the “2000” name for “Aquaracer” in 2005.
Influence and Future
The 2000 Series was a hugely important model for TAG Heuer and was one of the key reasons that the company stayed afloat in the 1980s and 90s. The success of the 2000 and the earlier 1000 series spurred TH on to create the 3000, 4000 and 6000 series- each essentially a different take on the theme developed by the Heuer 2000 back in 1982.
For a model that lasted so long and offered so many model variants, the basic shape never really changed. Below you see the Heuer 2000 of 1982 (left), the 2000 of 1991 (middle) and the TAG Heuer 2000 of 1995. The TAG Heuer 2000 lives on today as the Aquaracer, and you don’t have to look hard to see the heritage of the 2000. Of course, that may change over time, especially as the Aquaracer 500m essentially does away with many elements of the 2000, offering a totally new case, bezel and dial design. Irrespective of how the Aquaracer range evolves, its unlikely that it will ever match the sheer diversity of the original- but who knows, maybe we’ll see a 2000 Tristar re-edition at Basel some time soon.
The Monaco continues to be a key part of the TAG Heuer collection, more than 45 years after the original series was discontinued. In fact, while the original was part of Heuer’s collection for only six years, the re-edition has been in the TAG Heuer range for 23 years at the time of writing…a sure sign of a modern classic.
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TAG Heuer 2000 540.206: ma-53/ Jesse; 1999 TAG Heuer 2000: Enrico DePaoli