The TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 300M Night Diver Is A Return To Former Glory
TAG Heuer has a history of creating some of the best full lume dial diving watches. In the mid-1980s, the brand released an entire collection of full lume dial versions of their Heuer 1000 and later TAG Heuer 1000 Professional line of watches. One of them became a Bond icon on the wrist of Timothy Dalton in the Bond movie The Living Daylights. I love this series of watches a lot. It’s why I was delighted that TAG Heuer announced a full lume version of theirAquaracer Professional 300M. Time to find out whether the new stylish Aquaracer Night Diver is as good as its iconic predecessors.
As some of you might know, I write a series of articles on the best vintage watches per brand per decade. Overall, these trips down memory lane are a great joy to create. During the writing of the best Heuer/TAG Heuer watches from the 1980s, I was reminded of the brilliance of the Heuer/ TAG Heuer ref. 980.032L. This 42mm stainless steel model featuring a full lume dial is also known as one of the brand’s Night Divers. Full lume dials are helpful for diving at night as they are easier to read in low-light conditions, hence its nickname. Ever since I was reminded of the watch, it has been lingering in the back of my mind as a future purchase. They are iconic and still look great today.
An icon as inspiration
The mid-size black PVD version of the watch (ref. 980.031) can be seen around the wrist of Timothy Dalton in the 1987 Bond movie The Living Daylights. As it’s a Bond watch, it has become a classic and is highly sought-after by collectors. It’s this watch that served as the inspiration for TAG Heuer to come up with a new blacked-out version of their Aquaracer Professional 300 with a Super-LumiNova coated white dial. Additionally, the watch comes with a newly designed rubber strap and equally redesigned folding clasp.
I knew this would be the perfect one-on-one introduction to the Aquaracer line launched in April of this year. As Balazs explained in his article about the new Aquaracer collection, quite a few different variations are available. Going through the collection you are truly spoiled for choice. But the one that stands out immediately for me is this new Aquaracer Professional 300 Night Diver. The watch combines stylish looks with the fun functionality of the full lume dial. As I am not a diver myself, let alone a diver that explores the depths at night, I tried out the watch (on land) for a week.
So let’s start things off with some specs. The new Aquaracer Professional 300 Night Diver comes with a 43mm sandblasted stainless steel case with a black DLC coating. The watch features the characteristic 12-faceted unidirectional bezel executed in black with a matte black ceramic insert. As you can see, the bezel insert features the 60-minute scale executed in white with the triangle at 12 o’clock filled with blue lume. Additionally, the crown and the case back are also made from stainless steel with a black DLC coating. The watch is water-resistant up to 300 meters.
The overall black aesthetics are the perfect canvas for the white dial to shine. The dial features horizontally engraved lines to create some extra depth and texture. The bright white dial is coated with Super-LumiNova that lights up green in darker light conditions. The black applied hour markers at 3, 9, 12 o’clock and the cut-off marker at 6 o’clock are also filled with white Super-LumiNova that lights up green. Just above the cut-off marker at 6 o’clock, you will find the date window.
The date magnifier is placed on the underside of the crystal. It makes sure the top of the sapphire crystal remains flat. But the stars of the show are the black octagonally shaped applied markers. I love how they are executed. The outer edges are finished with black lacquer, while the inside is matte black. Because of the lacquered finish, the markers shimmer in the daylight, making the dial come to life. It’s a detail that I love about this watch specifically because it manages to add depth to all the black elements.
Two lume colors
TAG Heuer chose two different lume colors for the dial and hands to create a bit of contrast. As you can see, the pictures on natural daylight show the contrast a bit better than the studio images in bright light. But TAG Heuer has used green Super-LumiNova as the primary color and the already mentioned blue color as the second color to fill the black minute and seconds hands. When it comes to the design of the hands, I’m still on the fence about whether I genuinely like them. Their shape fits the overall shape of the watch, but they lack some character for me. They also seem a bit small at times compared to the large white dial and the prominent hour markers.
The watch comes with a newly designed black rubber strap with a horizontal line pattern. On top of that, the watch also features a new folding clasp executed in stainless steel with a black DLC coating that comes with double safety push buttons and a fine adjustment system. This micro-adjustment system is straightforward to use, and it allows you to size the watch without any trouble. The combination of the rubber strap and folding clasp will not just be limited to this model. TAG Heuer also offers it for the regular black, and blue dial versions of the Aquaracer introduced in April of this year.
Tag Heuer Calibre 5
The stainless steel screw-down case back is also DLC coated and features a scaphander diving helmet. Underneath, you will find the TAG Heuer Calibre 5 that is based on the Sellita SW200-1. The automatic movement operates at 28,800vph, has 26 jewels and a 38-hour power reserve. As mentioned earlier, the movement shows central hours, minutes, and seconds and features a date at 6 o’clock. Overall it’s a fairly basic movement that is reliable and easy to service. But it has to be said that competitors like Oris and Tudor offer in-house movements with better specs than TAG Heuer does for the Aquaracer in the same price bracket from €3K –€3.5K.
Wearing the Aquaracer Night Diver
Before I get into how the Aquaracer Night Diver feels on the wrist, I have to say that I was impressed by its looks. I love the sandblasted feel of the black case combined with the black bezel and the matte ceramic insert. The regular steel and titanium models are a lot more defined by the 12-faceted bezel. On the Night Diver, it is less defining without getting totally lost. I love that kind of understated presence. This is one of the most stylish watches out there. The modern design combined with the slim profile and the white dial with the black elements makes for a great-looking timepiece.
Once I put it on the wrist, it fits like a glove. Its 43mm size is perfect for my wrist. The clasp is super easy to adjust and shuts with a firm click. Overall I had the feeling that it wears pretty big. For me, that is not an issue at all. But I can see this might be a tad bit too big for people with smaller wrists. With 36mm as the only other option, TAG Heuer is missing the 41mm option they offered with the previous generation Aquaracer. But the combination of the slimmer case and the excellent quality rubber strap is a winner. I loved wearing the watch every single day because it was extremely comfortable.
Incredible wrist presence
Additionally, the watch has a ton of wrist presence. While the full-lume dial might be the biggest attraction, without it, the watch has enough character and plenty of details to draw you in. The white dial feels incredibly crisp, the line pattern gives it an excellent depth, and those black hour markers take the grand prize for me. As a result, this is not a tedious watch. Usually, it’s the most significant danger with fully blacked-out watches.
Additionally, the watch has the magic powers of a full-lume dial. A party trick that never gets old. No matter how many times you look at it.
If there are two things to point out that I wasn’t necessarily a fan of, the first would be the magnifier. It just feels weird and disruptive on an otherwise very clean dial. Additionally, the hands could have been a bit chunkier. Now it feels like they sometimes are fighting with the hour markers for presence, and that should never be the case. The hands never really bothered me, though, as they weren’t a distraction. The magnifier, however, did attract too much attention, in my opinion.
Overall I think TAG Heuer did a great job with the Aquaracer Professional 300 Night Diver. If you are into stylish modern diving watches, then this is certainly a watch to check out. It looks great during the day and at night, wears incredibly comfortably thanks to the excellent rubber strap with the solid clasp, and makes for a great daily wearer. At a list price of €3,150, this is a watch that I definitely would consider for the money.
Having said that, it’s a price bracket where competitors offer similar watches with in-house movements. Oris has its Aquis with the Caliber 400 movement, and Tudor offers their Black Bay models at roughly the same price. So it’s a tough battle. But I have to say I was very much impressed by the new Aquaracer Professional 300 Night Diver. More than I have been with recent releases from the aforementioned brands.
While they might offer an in-house movement, they do not offer the infinite coolness of a full-lume dial, the history to back that up, and the very stylish looks. It is what makes this Aquaracer Night Diver one of the coolest watches currently out there. On top of that, I wore the watch for a week straight and never felt tempted to pick up another watch. And that is very hard to beat. It makes the Aquaracer Professional 300 Night Diver a true winner for me.
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