Move over ceramic, here comes carbon. Carbon fibre is the flavour of the day in the material world giving watches a high-tech stealth look associated with the world of F1 and competitive sailing. Following in the wake of the highly successful Carbon Monaco customized by Bamford, TAG Heuer presents three Aquaracer models decked out with carbon fibre details and housed in a 41mm black PVD-coated titanium hull. All three Aquaracers, differentiated by their colour schemes, will be put on sale today, along with the much anticipated Monaco Bamford unveiled back in March 2018. Before we look at the three models in detail, two points need clarifying: the Aquaracers have not been customized by Bamford and the cases, unlike the Monaco Bamford, are not made from solid carbon fibre. There are carbon fibre details on the case, however, and the good news for fans of the Aquaracer is that you can get the same cool look of a customized Bamford for roughly half the price.
The genesis of the Aquaracer
TAG Heuer is synonymous with the race track, but even before it hit the asphalt with its chronographs, the founding fathers were busy exploring ways to protect their movements from the damaging effects of water. In fact, by 1895 the enterprising Heuers had already filed a patent for the first water-resistant case for a pocket watch, followed in 1939 by a waterproof wrist chronograph. Regatta stopwatches appeared in 1942 and even models with sophisticated tide indications, like the Solunar, made their debut in 1949. Jack Heuer, the man behind the iconic Carrera, was also behind the design of the 1982 Series 2000, a collection of dive watches fitted with a screw-in crown, a rotating bezel and water-resistance of 300 metres.
A direct descendant of the Series 2000, the Aquaracer made its inaugural splash in 2004 and is now a pillar of the brand’s portfolio. Populated by 3-hand models, a GMT and chronographs, the Aquaracer divers can be identified by their 12-sided bezels, screw-in casebacks and crowns, and the six claws that either reach or invade the surface of the unidirectional rotating bezel.
Carbon is ‘in’
There is no denying the current popularity of carbon making its way across the board into high complications like Bvlgari’s record-breaking ultra-thin Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater to sportier models like Panerai’s Lab-ID. In tune with the latest material trends, TAG Heuer brings the transformative power of carbon to its Aquaracer to give the watch a cooler, more modern look. Fitted with ceramic three years ago to increase the wear and tear of the bezel, TAG adopts the carbon look in the hope of catching the eye of millennials who want the next ‘in’ material. The striking visual effect of carbon is relayed on the matte mottled surface of the bezel and dial.
The notched dodecagonal bezel is made from carbon and black PVD steel with a 60-minute dive scale and the black and grey marbled motif is the result of the random injection of carbon fibres into a resin pressed at high temperatures, which means that no two pieces will ever be the same. Manipulating the rotating bezel produces a very satisfying smooth and precise click for timing immersions. The carbon motif continues on to the dial and although it is not made from carbon, it pulls off a very good imitation of the texture and weaves associated with this material.
Compared to other dive watches on the market, that make themselves felt on the wrist, the first impression when handling the 41mm watch is its extreme lightness. You could be forgiven for attributing the lightness of the Aquaracer to the ‘carbon’ appellation in the name, but it is, in fact, thanks to the titanium case with its sleek black PVD coating. For many buyers, lightness is a definite plus allowing you to wear the watch without having to pump iron before strapping it on! With its 300m depth credentials, the screw-on caseback is also made from titanium and sheathed with black PVD and features a diving helmet in the centre. With its 41mm diameter and short lugs, the watch will sit squarely on most wrists.
Hints of colour
Accents of blue, yellow and rose gold on the dial distinguish the three Aquaracer models. In my opinion, the yellow model is the most vivacious and attractive of the three with its canary yellow seconds hand, minute track and markings on the dial, and provides a legible contrast to the muted matte tone of the dial.
The blue model is reminiscent of the aqua blue counters of the Monaco Bamford and the rose gold model is, if you like, the most low-key iteration of the three. The large faceted and applied indices (polished and lacquered in rose gold or plated with black gold, depending on the model) are filled with grey Super-LumiNova and the date window at 3 o’clock is enhanced with a magnifying lens.
Tried and tested calibre 5
The Aquaracer Special Carbon Series is an automatic three-hander powered by the reliable Calibre 5, beating at 4Hz and based on a Sellita SW200 movement. Displaying the hours, minutes, seconds and date, the only drawback of this solid movement is its short power reserve of just 38 hours.
The Aquaracer is an attractive, modern package at a competitive price bringing you the look and solid performance of a real dive watch with the high-tech appeal of carbon. Designed for diving but a solid ally on terra firma, the Aquaracer’s new carbon-inspired personality will resonate with urbanites who don’t miss a beat with the latest trends.
The Aquaracer Special Carbon Series is presented on black nylon straps with black, yellow or blue stitching to match the colour accents of the dial. The folding buckle is made from black PVD-coated titanium and features double safety push buttons and a diving extension mechanism. Sitting next to the Monaco Bamford, the Aquaracer with rose gold details will retail for CHF 3,950, while the yellow and blue versions are priced at CHF 3,900. All four models will be available as of 3 September online at www.tagheuer.com or in boutiques worldwide.