This year, for the 2021 edition of Watches & Wonders, TAG Heuer has introduced a fully revamped collection for its dive watch, the Aquaracer Professional 300. Redesigned, more refined, slimmer, equipped with new dials, a new bracelet and a new bezel, it has been introduced in multiple variants as part of the permanent collection. Still, there’s more to this collection and TAG Heuer is also launching a limited edition model that pays tribute to the first diver’s watch produced by Heuer, the 1978 Heuer Monnin Reference 844. Meet the new vintage-inspired TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 300 Tribute to Ref. 844.
The 844, Heuer’s first dive watch
While Heuer’s reputation in the field of motorsport-inspired chronographs was indisputable, Jack Heuer’s brand was simply absent in another important segment of the sports watch: diving instruments. However, by the mid-1970s, and like most other manufactures of mechanical watches, Heuer was having a tough time with the invasion of accessible quartz models. Heuer decided to diversify and launched its first diver’s watch, the 844. Cautious with its approach, as it had never produced a dive watch before, the brand outsourced the production to a French manufacturer named Monnin.
The result of this collaboration – which terminated once Heuer reintegrated the production in-house – was a classic-looking diver’s watch with a certain military appeal. The earliest editions of the Heuer 844 were housed in solid 42mm stainless steel cases with protection all around, water-resistance of 200m, a classic black rotating bezel, an automatic movement and a perforated black rubber strap. The main specificity of these early models was their dials, with luminous Tritium dots and, next to them, a red hour track (from 13 to 24). They can also be recognised thanks to the “professionel” (in French) mention on the dial. (for more details on the topic, consult this page at veblenist.com).
This is the watch that inspired TAG Heuer’s latest limited edition based on the Aquaracer.
The Tribute to Ref. 844
What TAG Heuer is presenting here is basically a mix between all the distinctive elements of the newly introduced 2021 Aquaracer Professional 300 collection and some design elements of this early Heuer Diver ref. 844. In short, most of the specifications are shared with the watches of the permanent collection while certain retro details evoke the early diver.
The case of the Aquaracer Professional 300 Tribute to Ref. 844 retains the proportions of the classic versions of this watch, with a 43mm diameter and solid shoulders. The angular shape of this case, which echoes the multi-sided bezel, has also been retained and is now finished with finely brushed surfaces, with large polished bevels on the side. Regarding specifications, we have a fully equipped dive watch, with a screw-down crown and caseback, 300m water resistance and a sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating and a date magnifier. But there is nothing new here compared to the classic models.
What changes is the fact that the case of this edition isn’t made of stainless steel but of lightweight grade 5 titanium. So is the bezel, with its signature 12-sided shape, and a new notched profile (one of the evolutions found in this 2021 collection). The bezel features a glossy black ceramic insert with a 60-minute scale, identical to the other non-limited editions. One comment regarding the watch and this collection in general is that the overall quality and execution have been improved and the new Aquaracer watches feel far more robust and pleasant on the wrist than before.
The most noticeable evolution, and where the evocation of the past Ref. 844 is most obvious, is the dial. Replacing the classic grooved dial, the Aquaracer Professional 300 Tribute to Ref. 844 now features a matte and grained opaline black dial with the distinctive red 24-hour scale – which was originally intended as a quick conversion chart for on-the-field professionals reporting the time against the 24-hour clock. Although the sword-shaped hour hand, the narrower minutes hand and the octagonal applied indexes are still present, these are now filled with “old radium-coloured” Super-LumiNova for the vintage touch.
Inside the case and under a specific engraved caseback is a classic, tried-and-tested automatic movement, the calibre 5. This nomenclature refers to an outsourced engine – Sellita SW 200 base. The movement delivers around 40 hours of power reserve and beats at a 4Hz frequency.
The final reference to the vintage Heuer 844 is the strap, again unique to this edition. Indeed, the Tribute to Ref. 844 is equipped with a black perforated rubber strap based on the design of what used to be fitted on the historic watch. Still, it has been modernised and is now equipped with a steel folding clasp with safety push buttons and a fine adjustment system.
Availability & Price
The TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 300 Tribute to Ref. 844 (reference WBP208C.FT6201) will be produced in 844 pieces. It will be available from September 2021 and priced at EUR 4,100.
For more details, please visit tagheuer.com.