Long Term Review – TAG Heuer Aquaracer 500m

TAG Heuer Aquaracer WAK2110
Tag Heuer Aquaracer 1000
Heuer 1000 catalogue

The TAG Heuer Aquaracer series has a long, proud tradition. The first Heuer dive watch, the 1000 series, was launched in 1979. It had a slim case compared to the “standard” dive watch, the Rolex Submariner. It also came with a choice of an automatic-winding or an accurate quartz movement. The series continues to this day, with an annual refresh.

TAG Heuer Aquaracer 500m WAK2110

TAG Heuer Aquaracer WAK2110
TAG Heuer Aquaracer WAK2110

My TAG Heuer Aquaracer 500m is the ceramic bezel model, reference WAK2110. It was introduced in 2014. The ceramic bezel gives it the look of the newer Rolex Submarine models. Older dive watches usually feature an aluminium bezel. Ceramic is a much harder and more scratch-resistant material, and it has an attractive shine. The 2014 refresh of the TAG Heuer Aquaracer series was significant for two reasons: the case size of the watch was increased from 38mm to 42mm, and the range was redesigned so that both 300m and 500m models shared the same mid-case. Only the case-back, crystal and bezel assembly differs on this watch, to give an extra 200m of water resistance for deep sea diving.

Inside is the reliable Swiss Sellita SW200 movement. It is equivalent to the workhorse ETA 2824 movement and has a 40-hour power reserve, ticking away at 28,800 beats per minute. Other than the diver’s bezel and date function there are no complications to speak of: this is a basic, functional tool dive watch. I have had the watch from new. It is now discontinued, but there are plenty of examples on the used market.

Beware of fakes: there is a very convincing counterfeit of this watch on the market. Fake Aquaracer 500m watches can be distinguished by the ‘pearl’ on the bezel, which is sunk into the ceramic on the genuine article but protrudes on the fake versions, and also by opening the back: the fake TAG Heuer watches have a spelling mistake on the rotor.

What’s good about the TAG Heuer Aquaracer 500m?

 

TAG Heuer Aquaracer

I love the feel of the watch. For a 500m dive watch, it is extremely thin and comfortable to wear. It feels solid and is just the right weight. It is not top heavy like Rolex’s Deep-Sea Sea Dweller and doesn’t have the cyclops magnifier that puts me off the Rolex Submariner. The glow from the markers is strong in low light conditions. This watch goes well with everything and really does work from the beach to the boardroom.

 

I prefer it to the other watches on my shortlist: the Rolex Submariner 116600 and the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean. It also costs less than half as much as those watches.

What’s bad about the TAG Heuer Aquaracer 500m?

TAG Heuer Aquaracer WAK2110Two things bug me about the watch: the first is that when you set the time, it is easy to catch the bezel as you turn the crown. This makes the bezel turn and you have to reset it again. The other issue is the bracelet. It is a nightmare to add or remove links due to a pin and collar system rather than screws (as used by Rolex). Because there are only three micro adjustment positions on the clasp, there is not much leeway. My ‘perfect size’ goes between the last position on the clasp, and the first position with another link added. Five adjustment options would have allowed me to leave the link in and adjust between my favoured positions.

TAG Heuer’s quality control left something to be desired. When  I first took ownership of the watch, it was losing time, and the power reserve was only 12 hours. It went back to TAG Heuer and was fixed under warranty, but for the price, I paid I would not have expected this one to make it out of the factory in that state.

Overall thoughts on the TAG Heuer Aquaracer 500m

TAG Heuer are an odd brand. For every beauty like this watch, they make something gaudy and hideous that I would be ashamed to wear. I think they hit the ball out of the park with this model, and it is disappointing that it has now been replaced with – in my opinion – an inferior range. Of all my watches this is one of the keepers, and I cannot see myself ever needing another black-bezel dive watch.

You can buy a used TAG Heuer Aquaracer on eBay.

Author: Mike Richmond

Usually found skulking around eBay or the International Watch League forum, Mike writes for a living and spends what little money he makes building up his collection of timepieces.

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