Modern TAG Heuer can be a tricky brand to categorise. Are they the makers of classic and timeless pieces like the Monaco and Carrera collections? Or are they a rather familiar mainstream brand acting in slightly too many areas? Depends on who you ask. I think it’s safe to say, though, that the recent collections aren’t getting the same kind of enthusiasm as the vintage watches, at least from the hardcore watch community.
Over the last few years, under the guidance of new CEO Frédéric Arnault, TAG Heuer has set out to change all that. From investing in new, cutting-edge tech like lab-grown plasma diamonds, to a solid smartwatch lineup, to truly bonkers things like that F1 and Mario Kart-themed tourbillon chronograph. I daresay no one could have predicted that anomaly. Certainly, some of you will see those as hits and others as misses but watch enthusiasts across the board appreciate when brands at least try new things, so hats off to TAG Heuer for that. They have also been revamping their dive watch offerings, releasing a few hearty tool watches under the Aquaracer line in the last 24 months. We are going to take their flagship diver, the Aquaracer Professional 1000 Superdiver, on a few dives and see if it can walk the walk, as well as it talks the talk. First, the talk…
As I see it, there are currently two main categories of modern dive watches; the nostalgia-inducing, vintage-leaning smaller pieces, and the chunky, modern, high-tech pieces. This one fits squarely in the latter category. This is a 45mm tool watch, made of grade 5 titanium to keep the weight as low as possible. The case shape falls in line with the rest of the modern Aquaracer collection, taking a loosely dodecahedral shape, matched by the 12 sides on the titanium bezel. The bezel insert is black ceramic, with the first 15-minute indices being rendered in orange. The dial is a sunray brushed glossy black, featuring the same recessed, Venetian blind-esqe horizontal lines that adorn the rest of the Aquaracer line, presumably for an increase in contrast to help legibility, along with adding a little bit of pizzazz.
The indices on the dial are of the applied variety, in thematically matching geometric shapes. Well, almost matching as they are technically octagons, but close enough. The hour hand is a large white arrow and the minute hand is a thin orange sword. The contrast between these two help the user quickly differentiate the minute hand for a quick timing check whilst diving. The sides of the case utilise a few new features that set this watch apart from the rest of the Aquaracers. The crown is protected by a full steel crown guard, theoretically preventing damage to the crown in case of impact, a helpful feature if you happen to be deep in the belly of a dark shipwreck, which are usually fairly cramped quarters. The crown also features an orange ring next to the seal, which offers a visual confirmation that the crown is securely screwed down.
The other side of the case features a helium escape valve, that bit of questionable utility that has become ubiquitous on deep divers these days. I generally fall on the side of “Why not include it, just in case I need to do some impromptu saturation diving?”, as long as it’s of the passive variety that doesn’t protrude from the side of the watch. TAG has redesigned this HEV from the standard circular valve, and it is now a black rectangle, helpfully marked with the letters “He”.
The caseback is made of steel and engraved with the old-fashioned diving bell helmet that adorns the rest of the Aquaracer line. The watch is pressure rated to 1,000 metres, far deeper than your human body is rated for, and the ISO 6425:2018 certification means that it has been tested to 125% of that 1000m mark, so unless you’re a real-life Aquaman, TAG has you covered on depth.
The Aquaracer Professional 1000 Superdiver comes on an Oyster-style bracelet, also made of grade 5 titanium, and featuring a wetsuit extension, and a push-button micro adjustment for making small changes on the fly. A nice feature that really should be in every bracelet by now.
The movement running this watch is another point of interest, and sets it apart from the rest of the Aquaracer line. It’s the calibre TH30-00, an automatic movement produced for TAG Heuer by Swiss manufacturer Kenissi. It’s the first time the brand has used a movement from Kenissi, which was founded in 2016 and is partially owned by Tudor and Chanel. They also provide movements to Norquain and certain Breitling models, so it gives the watch a slightly more upmarket feel when compared to the Sellita-based movements of the other Aquaracer watches. The COSC-certified movement beats at 28,800vph and offers a power reserve of 70 hours.
On the wrist, this watch wears extremely well. The lightweight and relatively short lug-to-lug make it feel more like a 41- or 42-millimeter watch. The bracelet is tight and well made with none of that jangly-ness you find in a lot of the bracelets out there. The finishing and build quality is all spot-on and immediately gives you the feeling that you are wearing a high-quality, Swiss timepiece that is going to last you the rest of your days. Now let’s take it in the water…
The Aquaracer Professional 1000 Superdiver In Its natural habitat
My current preference in a dive watch to be worn while actually diving is that of the modern, high-tech variety. Ironically that’s partially due to imagining how divers in the 1960s and 1970s felt about their watches, which were cutting-edge tools at the time, so I arrive at my preference for modernity through nostalgia. I digress…
The Aquaracer Professional 1000 Superdiver is certainly a modern tool, meant to do a job and do it well, never mind how superfluous that job has become in the modern era. In an inherently dangerous sport like scuba diving, you can never have too many redundancies. And while I have not yet needed to fully rely on that backup in practice (fingers crossed!), it’s reassuring to know it’s there. The watch fits nicely and comfortably over the neoprene of a wetsuit and feels secure. Titanium watches of this size fall into that Goldilocks-approved category of “just right” for me. Not too heavy and not too light. You want to know it is still there with just a passing thought, but not have it behave as an anchor like a stainless steel watch of this size might. It feels like just another piece of diving gear, and that is all one can really ask of a modern scuba diving watch.
Let’s talk for a moment about competitors to this watch. Coming in at EUR 6,450 or USD 6,650, this watch is on the higher end of modern divers. For my money, the current high-water marks for a modern diver are the Tudor Pelagos and the Oris Aquispro, both of which retail at around USD 4,500. I would have personally liked to see TAG Heuer come in at a price closer to these, as I think that would have gone a long way in building some goodwill with the enthusiast crowd. As it stands the Aquaracer Professional 1000 Superdiver is in more direct competition with Omega’s Planet Ocean line and maybe a Breitling or two, and that is fairly stiff competition. May the best watch win.
All things considered, this is a beautifully-crafted, modern diving watch that has single-handedly put TAG Heuer back on my list of watches to keep an eye on, and I look forward to seeing what they do next.
For more details, please visit tagheuer.com.