In Depth Review- TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300m Quartz (Ref. WAY101B, WAY101C, WAY101E)

As the Northern Hemisphere heads into summer, it feels like the right time to check out the range of TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300m Quartz watches- perhaps the perfect summer watch. TAG Heuer has a long history of quartz dive watches, stretching back to the Heuer/ TAG Heuer 1000 and 2000 series watches from the 1980s. Yes, there were automatic models offered in both of these series, but quartz was the mainstay of these dive watches and part of the reason that they were so successful.

Aquaracer 300m Quartz Khaki- Ref WAY101E

But there was a time in the early 2010s when TAG Heuer had turned its back on battery-powered watches, as the brand began to be positioned higher on the back of the Mikro-platform watches that were priced over $100,000. Somehow having quartz watches at just over $1000 and these high-end haute horlogerie pieces didn’t quite mesh, and so TAG Heuer began stepping away from quartz. Even the Formula 1 series- historically only available with a quartz movement- introduced automatic models.

Today we’re back with a brace of quartz watches across both the Aquaracer and Formula 1 lines, and for certain buyers these make more sense than their mechanical counterparts in the range. We got together three of the four main options in the current Aquaracer battery-powered range, leaving out the standard Black-dial WAY101A, to see whether we’d be tempted away from the world of mechanical timepieces.

Aquaracer 300m Quartz KBlue

Aquaracer 300m Quartz Khaki- Ref WAY101E

TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300m Quartz Khaki- Ref. WAY101E

First up in the range we have the Khaki dial Aquaracer 300m, reference WAY101E (regular readers will recall that if the first numeral in a TAG Heuer reference code is a “1”, then that watch is always battery-powered). The watch feels like an extension of the outlandish Khaki and Camouflage Calibre 5 Aquaracers from 2017, but this time with a style likely to appeal to a broader audience.

The watch uses the standard Aquaracer 43mm steel case, with a combination of polished and brushed surfaces. As with all Aquaracers, the caseback features the trademark Diving Helmet logo- no room for clear casebacks in the Aquaracer range.

Dial

The real party-piece of this watch is the dial, which is technically called “Khaki”, but is more of a dark grey (albeit with green tinges) with a starburst/ metallic finish. In general, Aquaracer watches with starburst dials are quartz powered, while most automatic versions have a horizontal-striped pattern across the dial- and of course “Calibre 5” text, while the Quartz dials have no reference to any movement type.

A similar (but not identical) colour is used for the engraved numbers on the sand-blasted aluminium bezel and for the “300m” text on the dial.

Strap- Ref. FC8222

There’s only one strap option for the Khaki Aquaracer- the military-style textile strap that we first saw on the Calibre 5 Khaki Aquaracer. While you could always fit the standard Aquaracer bracelet, or a rubber strap, we don’t know why you would, because the textile strap is a perfect complement to this design.

On the Wrist

Aquaracer 300m Quartz Khaki- Ref WAY101E

One of the major advantages of a quartz watch is the lightness- in this case accentuated by the textile strap. When we say that these watches are great for summer, it’s because they are so light on the wrist. Enjoy below some shots of the Khaki Aquaracer 300m.

Aquaracer 300m Quartz Red Bezel- Ref. WAY101B

TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300m Quartz Red- Ref. WAY101B

If Khaki is not your thing, then we have this very cool red-bezel model, reference WAY101B. There is no red-bezel equivalent in the automatic Aquaracer range, which is a nice point of uniqueness for this watch, which again uses the larger 43mm stainless steel case.

The dial is a dark grey, again with a starburst finish, and looks great with the red “300m” text that really pops off the dark background, as does the red-tip on the seconds hand.

There are a couple of small differences- other than the bezel and dial colours- between this Aquaracer and the Khaki model. Firstly, the bezel here is polished rather than sandblasted aluminium, and secondly, there is no cyclops over the date window.

Aquaracer 300m Quartz Blue- Ref. WAY101C

TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300m Quartz Blue- Ref. WAY101C

Last up we have a blue dial/ blue bezel model, which is available with either a blue rubber strap, or a stainless steel bracelet, as fitted to this watch.

The matching dial and bezel combination looks fantastic, with the orange “300m” lettering providing the only real colour contrast on the dial.

Price and Availability- Aquaracer 300m Quartz

The price of these Aquaracer 300m Quartz starts at US$1,600 (rubber and textile strap), with an additional $150 for the stainless steel bracelet. That compares to a price of $2,650 for the 43mm Calibre 5 Aquaracer on a bracelet, so call that a $1000 premium. Is it worth it?

If the primary purpose of your Aquaracer is as a sports watch that you want to wear playing sport or by the pool, then we’d recommend that you pocket the change and stick with quartz- the real enemy of an automatic watch is shock and vibrations, so trying to ride a mountain bike, go running or play tennis with an automatic watch is asking for trouble.

Quartz is super-reliable, easy to maintain and saves you a lot of money, so they’re a great first watch or summer option. We love mechanical watches with their sense of history and analogue nature, but the key is not to worry about what watch snobs think about quartz- worry about finding the right movement for what your intended use. And if its quartz you’re after, then these Aquaracers are well worth of being on your list.


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