The new TAG Heuer Aquaracer Nightdiver is a modern watch that owes a lot to its past. Fans of the fabulous TAG Heuer 1000 quartz dive watch series of the 1980s and 90s will remember the “glow dial” models of that range. Rather than a standard dial with luminous hour markers, the Glow dial watches has distinctive lime/ yellow colour with the entire dial glowing at night thanks to a mild dose of radioactivity.
The Aquaracer Nightdiver takes the idea of these luminous dive watches and reboots them into 2018 with a titanium case and a ceramic bezel to bring together the best of the old and the new, resulting in the perfect summer watch.
History of the Nightdiver
We first saw the “Glow Dial” effect on the Heuer/ TAG Heuer 1000 series in the early 1980s, with the dial offered across several case sizes and finishes including Black PVD and Stainless Steel.
These lime/ yellow dials were coated in Tritium, a radioactive material that glows once “charged” with light, with the luminous material lasting for several years before fading.
TAG Heuer Formula 1 372.513
It wasn’t only the 1000 series that offered these dials- the original Formula 1 range from the mid 1980s also featured several models with a glow dial, including the two shown above- Ref. 372.513 and 371.513.
TAG Heuer 1000m- Reference 180.123
Our favourite of these early glow dial watches in this automatic version of the 1000m diver, Reference 180.123. These are among the rarest of the 1980s TAG Heuer dive watch range and one of the few models not to feature a quartz movement.
TAG Heuer 1500
When the TAG Heuer 1000 was phased out in 1990, it was replaced by the 1500 which did offer a single, glow dial model (Reference 929.113G, later updated to WD1212) in the early 1990s. These are among the rarest 1500 watches, along with the blue dial model added to the range in 1996.
TAG Heuer Formula 1- Reference WAH1011
After a break of more than 10 years, the glow dial option returned in 2009 model when TAG Heuer launched a “Grande Date” variant of the Formula 1. Look closely and you can see that the lime/ yellow shade of the earlier watches has been replaced by a clean white finish.
The reason for this is that these newer generation dials are coated with Superluminova, a non-radioactive material which began to replace tritium from around 1997/ 8.
Superluminova is not only brighter than tritium, but lasts significantly longer, as well as being available in several colour options. Oh, and it’s not radioactive.
The Aquaracer Nightdiver is the latest in the series of fashion-driven Aquaracer series, following last years Khaki and Camouflage 43mm Calibre 5 models. These watches have brought a little fun back into the Aquaracer range which has otherwise become very sensible over the last few years.
Given this watch is all about the dial, that seems like the right place to start. let’s start there. The dial is coated with white Superluminova, with a combination of white and grey Superluminova applied to the hour-markers and the hands. While the 12 o’clock triangle and the 3, 6 and 9 o’clock markers use white, the other hour markers use a cool looking grey finish (The applied indices are black gold-plated) similar to the black hour markers on those original glow-dial watches.
So how would the dial look on a night dive? Pretty cool, with the same yellow/ lime hue as those original watches, apart from the blue lume on the hands and 12,6, 9 markers.
What’s missing from the dial is the reference to a particular mechanical Calibre (e.g. Calibre 5) , which tells us that again like the glow dial 1000 from the past, we have a quartz-powered watch.
While we appreciate the flexibility of choosing white Superluminova- looking like a “normal” white dial watch during the day- we would have loved to see TAG Heuer go full retro and give us that familiar daytime lime/ yellow hue.
The Nightdiver uses a 43mm Grade 2 titanium case coated in titanium-carbide, topped by a steel bezel with a ceramic insert- note that the caseback is also steel
Caseback and Movement
While the caseback features the standard diving helmet, we were more interested in what lies behind the caseback, because this watch uses an ETA 955.112 7-Jewel quartz movement, the first time that TAG Heuer has offered this movement for several years. Those original 1000 series were mainly found with either the 955.112, or its predecessor the 955.114, a quartz movement whose origins stretched back to the ESA days of the early 1980s.
In recent years TAG Heuer has mainly used either the ETA F06.111 movement, or a Ronda 6004.B, both reliable quartz movements with almost identical specifications and dimensions, although the F06 series does with only 3 jewels.
The 955 series is a tried and tested movement that will do exactly what you want it to do- keep accurate time over many years with a minimum of fuss.
There is a single strap option for the Nightdiver- a ribbed black rubber strap with a PVD titanium grade 2 folding clasp. We’d be tempted to try out a few different coloured NATO strap options, which will also look great.
On the Wrist
As you might expect, the Aquaracer feels feather-light on the wrist, thanks to the combination of a titanium case, rubber strap and a quartz movement…perfect for the hot weather. Yes, we know that most of our readers are about to head into winter, but for those of us in the Southern Hemisphere, this is definitely worth checking out for the beach, although that’s not to say it wouldn’t also look at home in the Snow.
Price and Availability- Aquaracer (Ref. WAY108A)
The TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300m Nightdiver Quartz is on sale already both at your local TAG Heuer Authorised Dealer and at tagheuer.com. North American pricing is $2,150, a $600 premium over the steel Aquaracer quartz.