Hands on Review- TAG Heuer Link Series (Ref. CAT7010, WAT2111, WAT2011, WAT1110)

One of the best pieces of advice that I can give to anyone wanting to buy a watch is this: go and try it on. That may seem obvious to most, but given that you can now research a watch and have it delivered to your front door without leaving the couch, there is an increasing temptation to buy a watch based on photos alone- most of which are taken in a studio with fancy lighting and heavy editing.

TAG Heuer Link 2011 13-WMLikewise, you can’t review or learn about a watch from official photos alone, because it’s only by holding the watch in your own hands and in natural light, that details become apparent.

I mention this because when I first saw photos of the revised Link series, it looked to me like a fairly gentle update of the previous model. I’ll be honest and say that I wasn’t even sure if it was a new model. Sure, there were a few changes- an applied logo here, new bezels there, but from the press photos it looked to be a very similar watch.

While I’d still categorise the new series as an evolutionary step over the previous model, there are many changes that aren’t individually significant, but the sum of which make for a watch that has a distinctively different feel to the 2010 model.

History of the Link

The Link series first appeared in 1987 as the S/el and was renamed “Link” in 1999 in recognition of the most distinctive characteristic of the watch- its bracelet.

The Link bracelet is made up of two “S”-shaped links that give the watch a more comfortable fit than traditional “brick-style” links.

The Link is one of the most important watches in today’s range, and one of only two current series (along with the Formula 1) that are pure TAG Heuer, having no equivalent model in the previous Heuer range.

Design Overview

While the dial of the new range remain faithful to the previous model, the case of the Link has been significantly softened into a curvier shape. The finishing on the stainless case steel case has also been upgraded, with a combination of polished and brushed steel surfaces. The polished effect is used sparingly to avoid too much bling- restricted to the side of the case and even the side of the bracelet links.

Providing a contrast to the rounded case is the newly designed bezel, which essentially has two parts- a thin “cushion-shaped” bezel with angled, square edges, into which is set the traditional circular bezel- a tachy bezel in the example below.

The lugs of the case have also been refined to a more shapely finish and have a brushed metal finish on the top-side.

While the early S/el watches featured an integrated case and bracelet, the newer watches have traditional open lugs. This means that leather straps or other bracelets will fit easily, although the Link is the only current series that is sold only on a bracelet- there is no official leather strap option for the Link.

What’s Changed

Above you see the 2010 Calibre S (left) and the new Calibre S (right). The key changes made to the new design are:

  • Larger Chronograph buttons
  • Larger, shorter crown
  • Thinner two-piece bezel
  • More rounded case
  • Polished case edges and details
  • Smaller, more angled inner bezel making the dial appear larger

If anything, the change to a softer case design harks back to original S/el of 1987, which hardly had a sharp-edge anywhere.

But while the edges on the case may have been smoothed out, the opposite is true for the bracelet. The new bracelet (above left) has flatter, squarer links that sit closer together.

Again, its only when looking at the two side-by-side that the differences become clear.

Link Calibre S

The Link Calibre S (Ref. CAT7010.BA0952 in black) uses the largest case size- 43mm. The dial is a gentle evolution of the 2010 Link Calibre S- the use of an applied TAG Heuer logo, slightly larger hour-markers and the now-trademark TAG Heuer vertically streaked dial.

I also like the changes to the sub-registers, which were flat on the 2010 model. For 2011, the 1/10th register has a sunken appearance, while the 1/100th register has an applied, textured semi-circle.

I’ve now been able to spend a reasonable amount of time with various watches that use the Calibre S electro-mechanical movement. While I still prefer automatic movements in watches, I think that the Calibre S is a clear step-up from the usual quartz movement.

Link Calibre 6

The Calibre 6 Link (Ref. WAT2111.BA0950) uses the smallest case, at 40mm. The dial is similar to the Calibre S Link, but with a running seconds register at 6 o’clock and no Chronograph sub-dials.

You can see the difference between the old and new models below (2010 on the right), which highlights several of the changes that I’ve already mentioned- note the smaller crown and small, more angled inner bezel- it all helps to give the 2011 Calibre 6 the feeling of a larger watch.

Also note the changes to the design of the 6 o’clock register- a much simpler approach- and the applied logo

The bezel design of the new Calibre 6 is similar to the out-going model, but with every second hour set out on the bezel. TAG Heuer also offer the option of a Roman Numeral bezel.

The Calibre 6 movement is an ETA 2895-1 movement, which is based on the ETA 2892 but with a running seconds complication. The movement has a nicely finished rotor and is visible through a sapphire case-back.

Link Calibre 5

The Calibre 5 Day-Date (WAT2011.BA0951) is essentially the Calibre 6 watch in a larger case (42mm) and with a Day-date complication rather than small running seconds.

The 2011 Link Day Date is similar to the 2010 model (below, right), with the most obvious difference being the change to the position of the day window.

One point that I noticed about the new range were the small quality touches on the detailed finishing. Take a look at the Macro shot below and you see the quality of the dial-printing and the applied window surround.

The Link Calibre 5 is my favourite of the range. The size feels just right, sitting in between middle of the Link series in terms of size.

The Day Date uses a Calibre 5, which confusingly is not the same Calibre 5 used in the Aquaracer 500m range. Generally, TAG Heuer refer to the ETA 2824 as the Calibre 5, but in the new series, the Calibre 5 is an ETA 2834-2. The difference? Just that the 2834-2 has the added day complication to the date function of a base ETA 2824.

I would have used a different Calibre name for this movement to avoid confusion of having two different movements with the same Calibre number.

Link Quartz

The final watch in the revised range is the Link Quartz (WAT1110.BA0950), which uses the same 40mm case as the Calibre 6 Link. The quartz movement is the tried and tested ETA F06.111 quartz movement.

The Link Quartz gets a unique one-piece bezel design, which keeps with the style of the 2010 bezel design, although is thinner.

The Link Quartz also gets an applied logo, and while you can’t see it clearly on the shot below, the same vertical ridges as the rest of the Link range.

Link Calibre 16

The one model that wasn’t available to review was the top of the line Calibre 16 Chronograph, which you see above. Like the other watches in the 2011 Link range, the Calibre 16 (ETA 7750) is available with either a black of a white dial.

Link Price and Availability

The TAG Heuer Link range is fairly straight-forward. There are only two dial colours- white/ silver and black offered in either a stainless steel or stainless steel and gold case. Perhaps additional dial colours will be added later in the model’s life, as was the case with the previous Link

In most markets the Link range is available now, having been available at the TAG Heuer Las Vegas boutique exclusively from July.

The estimated prices for the watches at the time of writing in Australia are:

  • Link Calibre S: $3650
  • Link Calibre 5: $3350
  • Link Calibre 6: A$3150
  • Link Quartz: A$2250

Best to check with your local AD for pricing where you live, because simply converting the prices above into your local currency won’t necessarily give you an accurate picture.

For more photos of the latest Link range, click here for the Gallery.