Bamford Watch Department (BWD) is back with another TAG Heuer collaboration, this time a limited edition Aquaracer that draws inspiration from the great Heuer dive watches from the past. While BWD continues to offer customised TAG Heuers in every colour of the rainbow, the 2020 TAG Heuer x Bamford edition is the second official model from the mind of George Bamford, following the 2018 Monaco Carbon Fibre Calibre 11.
The new watch continues to explore different materials, with the case and its bracelet being made from Grade 2 Titanium, a grade of Titanium which we’ll explain shortly.
George Bamford’s BWD is based at “The Hive” in London’s fashionable Mayfair. We paid a visit to George a few years back, and while some of the more lurid Bamford customisations are not to everyone’s tastes, there are two things that you should never doubt about George: his deep knowledge and love for Heuer and TAG Heuer (he has a fantastic collection of rare watches) and his absolute passion for what he does.
George has one of those infectious personalities, and is not only constantly coming up with fresh ideas, but is someone who then goes and turns these ideas into reality. George isn’t a dreamer, he’s a doer.
The case for the LE Aquaracer is made from Titanium Grade 2 (Ti2), with the same dimensions as the stainless steel 43mm Aquaracer collection.
So why did George and team choose to only use Ti2 and not the “higher spec” Titanium Grade 5 used on other TAG Heuers? Well, that’s not really how Titanium grades work- despite what many people think, Ti5 is not a better grade than Ti2, it’s just different.
Ti2 is “commercially pure” titanium, while Ti5 is a titanium alloy, usually combining titanium with aluminium so that it can be polished to a high sheen. The downside of pure titanium is that it is softer than Ti5, and therefore with a higher propensity to scratch. But on the plus side, you get a lighter case and with that lovely soft grey colour of pure titanium.
The unidirectional bezel and the bracelet are also made from sandblasted Ti2, as is the folding clasp.
So what difference does the titanium make when it comes to weight? The new watch, including the bracelet, comes in at 135g, compared to 208g for the same watch and bracelet in stainless steel.
While the use of a Ti2 case is cool, it’s the dial and hands that really make this watch. Starting with a black base dial with a distinctive radial pattern, the dial pops with flashes of orange on flange, hands and bezel. The sweeping seconds hand is a highlight, with the tip a combination of alternating white and orange stripes.
The Bamford name sits above the Aquaracer text, in the space normally carrying the “Calibre 5” text.
So why Orange instead of the trademark “Bamford Blue”? It comes back to George’s love of vintage Heuer dive watches:
The orange design elements and sporty bezel are reminiscent of the impactful TAG Heuer pieces that were launched between 1979 and 1994 and paved the way for the Aquaracer collection, which made its official debut in 2004George Bamford
The highlights of this Orange-era are the three Heuer/ TAG Heuer 1000 divers with Orange dials, available in a 32mm, 38mm or 42mm case. Introduced in the late 1970s, perhaps the highlight of this collection is the ETA 2872-powered Ref. 980.005 automatic, which has a quartz twin (980.007).
Early 980.005 watches featured cathedral hands, with the later watches, such as the one above, using the familiar “Mercedes” hands.
While there are many fantastic Heuer divers from this era, the Orange dial models are definitely up there among most collectible.
Movement and Caseback
Inside the BamfordRacer is the Calibre 5 automatic movement, although unusually, this is not noted on the dial. The caseback, which carries the traditional divers helmet, is also made from Ti2 and is engraved with “LIMITED ONE OF 1,500”.
While there is no NATO strap option, the watch would look amazing on a bright Orange NATO cloth strap- a low cost way of personalising your Bamford Aquaracer.
So how does the Bamford Aquaracer look out of the studio and on the wrist? Thanks to George Bamford himself, we can share with you these photos of the Aquaracer on his wrist.
Price and Availability- TAG Heuer Aquaracer Bamford Limited Edition
The 2020 TAG Heuer X Bamford Aquaracer Titanium Calibre 5 is a limited edition of 1,500 watches priced at CHF3,800 in Switzerland, a premium over the standard steel 43mm Aquaracer, which is priced at CHF 2,700.
The watch comes in a bespoke Orange box (below) with matching coloured cushion. The watch goes on sale from early December 2020.