One of the best entry level luxury dive watches is a Tag Heuer Aquaracer. Priced between $2,050-$4,200, the Tag Heuer Aquaracer is a great first watch for collectors getting into the industry or for a gift. It’s not just the price point that attracts buyers to the Aquaracer. Tag Heuer is a historic brand dating back to 1887 that is known for durability and value. The Tag Heuer Aquaracer is a great example of where value and performance meet.
When it comes to reviewing the Tag Heuer Aquaracer, I feel like I’m uniquely qualified because I was a proud owner of one for many years. I wore mine daily and had the same experience that most do, an amazing one. Yes, you’re not going to win over watch snobs or generate envy like a Rolex but that isn’t what wearing watches are about. A watch should match its owner preference and be up to the task it was bought for. Personally, I purchased mine because I loved the two tone look and I knew I could comfortably wear it every single day.
Enough about me, let’s chat about the Tag Heuer Aquaracer and our review of it. Although the Aquaracer has been around for many years, its looks have changed drastically over time. In the current references you’ll notice a completely different look but that is what makes the Tag Heuer Aquaracer fun. It doesn’t try to imitate other watches and the design dares to be changed throughout the years. What hasn’t changed about the Aquaracer is its reliability and durability. This watch is made to be worn and is pleasantly priced to give the wearer comfort in putting it to the test.
Ordinarily I wouldn’t advise taking a $10,000 watch on strenuous hikes, surfing, rough housing around the house with kids, or other activities. Wearing a watch that costs a fraction of that is actually inviting because as a wearer, you get a reliable companion that you want to take you through all those type of moments in life.
Overall I’d have to rate the Tag Heuer Aquaracer a 7/10 for what it is. Obviously it isn’t being graded on the same scale as a Rolex Submariner so let’s just appreciate it for what it is. The only improvement I’d like to see with the Aquaracer is an in-house movement. There are many other watch brands that are fitting $3,000 watches with in-house movements and none of them are the same size as the Tag Heuer company.
In most mens Aquaracers, the Calibre 5 movement is used. Even though this movement has been named by Tag Heuer, it’s really a modified ETA 2824-2. If you didn’t know, the ETA 2824-2 is widely known as one of the best outsourced movements. ETA has found a way to mass produce a movement that is surprisingly accurate, even for not being COSC certified. The major drawback to the Calibre 5 movement in the Aquaracer collection is that the power reserve is only 38 hours. This is substantially low and is below average considering today’s modern watchmaking technology.
The dial on mens Tag Heuer Aquaracers consist of horizontal etched patterns, oversized luminous markers and pointed hands. In either low or bright light conditions, legibility for the Aquaracer is never an issue. We’ll be honest here, there is a bit of fading throughout the night but nothing that can’t be overcome.
One feature of the dial that I particularly enjoyed when we did our Tag Heuer Aquaracer video review was the cyclops, or date magnifier. What I found took me by surprise. The cyclops for the Aquaracer is underneath the sapphire crystal, not above. This was such a cool design aesthetic to me and I can’t believe I either haven’t ran into a watch that has this or have thought of it myself.
Dive watches need solid bezels. After all, that function, outside of water resistance, is what makes a dive watch a dive watch. It’s safe to say that all the watches within the Aquaracer collection have solid bezels that are sturdy, hold their position, and have a crisp rotation. This is true for older references and especially true for the newer ones. The design for the Aquaracer bezel has sharp lines and coin etched edges to improve grip.
The operation of a dive watch bezel is very important and can often make or break a buyers confidence in that watch. I’m sure we’ve all rotated a bezel on a dive watch and instantly made an opinion. Where Tag Heuer Aquaracers separate from other dive watches at their price point is the feel of the watch and the bezel plays a large role in that.
The case size for mens Tag Heuer Aquaracers are either 40mm and 43mm for the current references. Older references have gone up to 45mm in case diameter. The current case diameters are considered by many to be the most comfortable sizes for dive watches. The screw down case back does have a cool etched dive suit used from early in the 1900’s. Other than that there really isn’t anything that stands out other than it just being a solid case.
The Tag Heuer Aquaracer collection starts at $2,050 MSRP for stainless steel quartz references and can go up to $4,200 MSRP for the titanium automatic reference. The most popular reference, which is the black dial/bezel automatic, costs $3,000 MSRP.
These watches are fairly easy to purchase with most authorized dealers having multiple color options and materials to choose from available in the case. For those of you who don’t know, the ladies are well represented in the the Tag Heuer Aquaracer collection. These are slimmer dive watches that often include diamonds and mother of pearl dials. These watches make perfect his and her gifts if you’re into that sort of thing.