TAG Heuer has launched a new “Pepsi-bezel” GMT model as part of the refreshed 2017 Aquaracer 300m range. And while this is not the first Aquaracer watch with the GMT complication, it is the first time that we’ve seen this model use the blue and red bezel that harks back to the Autavia GMT of the 1960s, which used the same bi-coloured bezel first introduced by Rolex in the 1950s on its GMT-Master.
TAG Heuer has used several different approaches with its GMT watches over the last few years, from the magnetic bezel on the Link Calibre 7 GMT to the Rotating Disc (RS) system on the Grand Carrera Calibre 8 GMT. It’s taken a while for the design to come back full circle, but it’s a welcome return to the classic GMT look.
The new Aquaracer uses the same 43mm stainless steel case as other models in the Aquaracer 300m range, including the white-dial 300m watch reviewed last month. And while the GMT may use the standard Aquaracer case, that’s no bad thing, with its combination of brushed and polished finishes.
Dial and Bezel
Just as the watch uses the standard Aquaracer 300m 43mm case, the black dial is also standard Aquaracer issue, with its horizontally streaked dial and over-sized hour-markers. We stand by the view we had when these models were first released that the hour markers are a little larger than we’d like to see. Slightly smaller with a brushed rather than highly polished finish would look better and open up the dial further.
And speaking of the GMT function, the party piece on this watch is of course the vivid blue and red aluminium, bi-directional 24 hour bezel. The bezel looks wonderful, contrasting nicely to the deep black of the dial.
The other distinguishing feature of the Aquaracer is the cyclops over the 3 o’clock date window- these tend to be a “love it or hate it” feature on these watches. It’s a design feature that you’ll only find on the automatic Aquaracer 300m series, with other Aquaracers making do with a flat sapphire crystal.
How to use the GMT Function
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.
Life is simple when it comes to the choices for how you can tether the watch to your wrist, because there is no choice- the watch comes as standard on the BA0927 steel bracelet. That doesn’t mean that you can’t add one of the other Aquaracer straps later, just that all watches are sold on the bracelet.
And being an Aquaracer, the bracelet has a simple divers extension, which also allows for micro-adjustment from three setting points, as illustrated below.
Caseback and Movement
The story of the bracelet might be straightforward, but that’s not the case with the Calibre 7 movement. Confusingly, TAG Heuer offers two Calibre 7 movements, originally the ETA 2892-A2 and its GMT variant, the ETA 2893-A2. However over the last couple of years, TAG Heuer has sourced the majority of its third-party mechanical movements from Sellita, which was a former technical partner and assembler for ETA. Today, Sellita produces clones of well-known ETA movements, and has begun to offer additional complications to extend its range.
The equivalent movement to the 2892 is the Sellita Sw300, while the GMT variant (equivalent to a 2893) is called the SW330-1. We don’t know for sure which company has supplied the movement for the new GMT, but our money would be that it’s a SW330-1 inside the newest Aquaracer. Either way, the movements from Sellita and ETA are essentially the same, although ETA does claim a few extra hours of power reserve.
As with all Aquaracer 300m models, the watch has a solid steel caseback with an engraved divers helmet.
On the Wrist
Price and Availability- Aquaracer 300m Calibre 7 GMT WAY201F
The new Aquaracer GMT is priced at US$2650 and is available now. To give you a sense of how that price sits with other models in the TAG Heuer range, the Calibre 5 white-dial model we reviewed last month retails at US$2,250 (steel bezel), while the ceramic bezel Calibre 5 43mm model (WAY201A) is also priced at $2,650.
With that context, the GMT is very good value for money. And if you want more evidence of this, it’s worth remembering that the Aquaracer 500m GMT Calibre 7 from 2014 (same movement, same bracelet, but with a ceramic bezel) sold for US$3,300.