What I appreciate about Tag Heuer is that the brand has a true Swiss heritage and continues to produce great dive/tool watches, iconic models like the Monaco and the aforementioned bleeding edge movements to showcase their technical expertise. And to be honest, before I became a certified full-blown WIS, I always thought Tags were overrated. Not until I bought one did I come to appreciate their build quality, accuracy out of the box and overall design aesthetic. I currently own three Tags, which is the most of any one brand in my collection.
The Aquaracer line is large and varied and I was drawn to the 500 meter models because of their unique looks and no-nonsense features. Fashion watches these are not! The Aquaracer 500 reviewed here starts with a fully brushed stainless steel case with angled sides that give the watch a bit more presence and heft. Case diameter is 43.5mm, but it really doesn’t wear that large. With the crown, the measurement is 48.2mm. Lugs are 21mm, case thickness is 13.3mm.
While the Tag Heuer Aquaracer Calibre is a relatively expensive watch, there is no doubt that the designers were obliged to cut corners along the way to hit TAG Heuer’s target price point. The value engineering is most visible in the generic metal bracelet, the weakest element of the watch. The bracelet itself feels substantial, but signs of the care that went into designing the rest of the watch are notably absent here. The sides of the links are polished, while the remaining surfaces are brushed with a fine grain. Frankly, the bracelet looks a bit dull, and the sportive nature of the watch should not be held as an excuse. The bracelet could have been enlivened with a combination of angular links, a more interesting brushed texture and polished center links. The accounting department's bean counting is evident in the pins which hold the tag heuer watch links together and the small gaps between the links themselves. The finest watch bracelets of the day use screws in place of pins for a more impressive look and, incidentally, a more secure fit. The best bracelets on the market today also feature fine adjustment micro-adjustment mechanisms, so wearers can finely adjust the bracelet to account for wrist swelling on hot and humid days. Perhaps a diver’s extension would have been more appropriate for this dive watch, but this feature is also absent. The back of the clasp is engraved with the brand’s name, but the execution of the engraving was very basic. For all our criticism, we must note that the bracelet functioned flawlessly during wear, closing shut with a satisfying click. The single fold-over clasp is easy to operate and the spring-loaded release mechanism ensures that the Aquaracer remains securely fastened to the wrist.
The bracelet is typical Tag quality, meaning very good. It sports brushed solid stainless steel links, with the center links being slightly raised above the outer links, one of Tag’s signature styles. Solid end links, a pushbutton signed clasp and a signed machined deployant complete the features.
Presentation is standard Tag with a black heavy cardboard outer box and black padded hard inner box with separate leatherette instruction and warranty holder.
Overall, the Tag Heuer Aquaracer 500 combines a serious diver watch with just enough style to make it a great daily wearer. It looks neither too purposeful or too fashionista, which is a good thing. A great choice for the pool or the daily scrum.