WOTW: Hands-On Review With The TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300 Blue Dial
As watch collectors, we see our watches as more than a device to tell the time. We see these wrist companions as just that, as we enjoy their companionship throughout our day-to-day lives. We use them to express our personalities, so we tend to have different watches for different situations. However, being a watch collector is a luxury. To have the means and capability to enjoy multiple luxury watches in our collections is not feasible or even desirable for everyone. Some people want a single quality watch that will cover all bases, look good, and serve them well for many years to come — the age-old “one-watch collection” dilemma. Well, after spending some quality time with the TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300, it’s made a solid claim to fill that role.
The concept of having a one-watch collection is not unappealing. Indeed for several years, I did just that with a not too dissimilar watch to the TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300. A go-anywhere, do-anything dive watch that handled my less-than-careful lifestyle incredibly well. Watches for this purpose don’t need to be flashy or allow you to do unnecessary things. The chances are, you don’t need a split-second chronograph or 1000m of water resistance. You certainly don’t need a tourbillon. In my opinion, the TAG Heuer Aquaracer is pretty much the perfect choice for that one-watch collection. Let’s take a look at why.
Making a case to be the one
The new 43mm stainless steel case combines a nice mixture of brushed and polished surfaces. I think this is key to the TAG Heuer Aquaracer’s versatility right off the bat. Too much polishing can catch the eye and make a watch seem slightly more formal than you might want. All-over brushing can have the opposite effect and move the watch too far over to the tool-watch aesthetic. That’s fine for some, but for all-around versatility, you likely want a watch that can fit that “beach to boardroom” vibe. It is another one of those stereotypical tropes found in our industry, but it has a lot of sense. Ultimate versatility is going from a business meeting at 10am, to the beach at 2pm, to the bar at 7pm.
In my opinion, the Aquaracer case is one of the better dive watch cases out there in this price bracket. I prefer modern stylings in watches, and the sharp-lined geometric case with its dodecagonal bezel is just that. It’s modern, with just the right touch of flair, without being too much. The combination of angles and lines with smooth, polished chamfers is just right — sporty yet classy. While we’re in this line of questioning, the bracelet has to be the number one choice here. While TAG Heuer also offers the Aquaracer 300 on a rubber strap, the stainless steel bracelet provides more versatility. The first lesson I learned from RJ was “always buy the bracelet.” He’s right. It’s nearly always cheaper to buy the bracelet with the watch from the start, but it’s also the better option long-term.
The TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300 bracelet is smooth
Of course, not all bracelets are created equally. Thankfully, TAG Heuer has nailed it with the Aquaracer bracelet. The Oyster-style shape is a tried-and-tested aesthetic and supremely comfortable on the wrist. I’m not the hairiest wristed of folks, but I have experienced bracelets that collect arm hair like it’s going out of fashion. I’m pleased to report that the TAG Heuer Aquaracer bracelet left my arm hair well alone. It may seem like a negligible point, but anyone who’s had their arms plucked by a bracelet knows just how important this can be!
While on the subject of the bracelet, I have to mention the clasp. It’s one of the better clasps out there and certainly in my top three. Tudor’s Pelagos clasps and Fortis’s Block clasps are two of the best, in my opinion, but TAG Heuer’s is right in the mix, battling for the top spot. Yes, it’s well-machined and it operates flawlessly (you’d expect no less at this price point), but the winning factor here has got to be the adjustability. The key to a good clasp, in my opinion, is the ability to fine-tune it for the perfect fit. That’s why I love the Tudor and Fortis clasps. TAG Heuer’s exemplary adjustment system is a breeze to operate, allowing for the perfect fit in under a second.
Caliber 5 providing the goods
The movement is just another reason why I think the TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300 is a perfect option for a one-watch collection. Why? Well, the TAG Heuer Calibre 5 powers the Aquaracer. While it may sound like an in-house affair, it’s not. The Calibre 5 movement uses either an ETA 2824-2 or Sellita SW200-1 base caliber. The easiest way to tell which movement your watch has is to look at the jewel count engraved on the movement itself. With 25 jewels, you know you have an ETA, and with 26 jewels, you can be sure it’s a Sellita.
Why is that good? You thought in-house was the be-all and end-all of watch movements? Due to the Caliber 5’s well-known base, you can get this watch serviced pretty much anywhere. You don’t have to send it back to TAG at every service interval. You can shop around for competitive pricing, as every watchmaker worth his salt can service this movement. This is a big plus if you ask me. The Caliber 5 gives you around 38 hours of power reserve. Sure, it’s not going to last an entire weekend off of the wrist while you switch to a different piece. But remember, we’re imagining that this is the only watch in your collection, so that point is moot.
Dialing in a range of colors
It’s hard to fault the Aquaracer dial. Personally, I love the horizontal stripes as they add a little detail and depth to it. The cardinal hour markers are big and bold with generously applied green C3 lume. The other hour markers are probably my one head-scratcher with this watch’s design. You’ve likely noticed that they’re not round. Correct; they’re octagonal. But why an octagon? Why not a dodecagon so as to reference the bezel? If that were too difficult due to the size, a hexagon would be more logical, in my opinion. Maybe circular hour markers would have worked better for ease. Either way, they too have a generous application of lume for excellent low-light legibility.
For this review, I spent time with the lovely blue-dialed Aquaracer 300. TAG Heuer does offer other color options in its regular collection, should you not be so enamored with the beautiful blue dial. Classic black is, of course, an ever-present option — it could be the most versatile of all the options here. After all, black goes with everything, right? I do like the silver-dialed model with the black gold-plated hands and indices, too, though. That one looks particularly sharp! Finally, a green-dialed Aquaracer rounds out the lineup but eschews the brushed/polished case in favor of a matte sandblasted case and bracelet. It certainly looks rugged, but it’s not my favorite of the bunch. I’d pick the blue or silver dial!
So is the Aquaracer 300 any good?
So there we have it. A smart and no-nonsense release from TAG Heuer that stakes a serious claim to being the only watch you need. The TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300 is a watch that effortlessly transitions from changing diapers, to sealing million-dollar business deals, to sipping daiquiris at the pool bar. Stylish, well-built, and offering more value than the price point demands. The TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300 costs €2,850 on the stainless steel bracelet. Find out more on the TAG Heuer website.
In the comments, let me know what you think of the TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300. Do you own one? Are you considering getting one? Could it be your one-watch collection?
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