TAG Heuer will soon start selling its new Aquaracer 500M Caliber 16 (Ref. CAJ2110.BA0872) automatic diver.
It took TAG Heuer more than a year to introduce a chronograph version of their highly successful Aquaracer 500M Caliber 5 diving tool. Equipped with a slightly decorated version of what once was the ubiquitous ETA 7750 automatic movement and is now its clone Sellita SW500, the TAG Heuer Aquaracer 500M Caliber 16 may become a good contender for the title of the most useless diving watch ever produced by the brand.
Really, what can be more useless than a diving watch powered by an automatic chronograph movement? You can’t use the chronograph underwater since you will most likely ruin the mechanism. Its tiny screen is too, err, tiny for a normal human being to see the chronograph’s readings when underwater. To begin with, you don’t need to use the chronograph underwater, since the case has a rotating bezel, which is more than adequate to measure periods of up to 60 minutes.
Well, at least you can use the chronograph on the surface, since, unlike most divers rated for depths up to 500 meters, this model doesn’t look on your wrist like a hungry headcrab (although it would take real guts to wear this model with business attire.) To be frank, I can’t imagine myself wearing this watch even with jeans and a t-shirt, too, since the dial and bezel decoration is just too dressy for this kind of casual item.
To my taste, the extra sub-dials greatly detract from the “light-weight” design diminishing the “vertical streak effect” of the original Aquaracer 500M Caliber 5 that the brand’s PR department used to brag about.
The effect was finally destroyed by transferring the small date window to its standard position at 3 o’clock (in the Caliber 5 version the window was located at 9 o’clock balancing the Aquaracer’s oversized winding crown) and moving the trademark “shield” from 12 o’clock to a position between the date window and the central axis.
Together with heavy chronograph push-pieces at 2 and 4 o’clock, the dial gets even more unbalanced, looking like it is going to topple to its right side if left on a table. Frankly speaking, I don’t understand why TAG Heuer didn’t opt for the bi-compax layout that is once again becoming a trend among the watchmakers.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I have nothing personal against this particular model. It is just that I liked the original best.
Like many objects of industrial design, this model has strong points, too.
For example, the Rolex-style fish eye lens over the calendar aperture makes the function a lot more useful: something that many models equipped with “small calendar” windows regretfully lack. Also, it is good that their variety of ETA 7750 ditches the “day of the week” part of the calendar making the dial a bit less cluttered.
The body is ergonomically shaped (although I can’t stress enough that, measuring 44 millimeters in diameter and also being relatively thick, it is not a dress watch: it is just way too big for a normal person to be comfortable wearing it with a shirt with relatively tight cuffs) and the bezel with its unusually shaped rim provides a good grip especially if you plan to use it underwater.
The company plans to start selling the Aquaracer 500M Caliber 16 in October 2010. Price is still to be revealed, but expect something close to €5000.
Photos: TAG Heuer
WWR preliminary verdict
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: 3.5/5
Aquaracer 500M Caliber 16 specification
Price range: €5000 / USD $6000 (Retail)
Movement: Caliber 16, based on ETA Valjoux 7750, automatic, 30 mm diameter, 7.9 mm height, Swiss Made
Cadence of balance: 28,800 vph
Functions & Complications: Hours, minutes, seconds, chronograph, date
Power reserve: 48 hours
Case: Stainless steel
Size: 44.00 mm
Numerals: Arabic (on the bezel)
Hands: Steel, luminous
Water resistance: 500 meters
Strap: Stainless steel bracelet
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective
Back: Solid, engraved