For Watches & Wonders 2022, Tag Heuer Aquaracer Professional 300 is going back to the roots of the Aquaracer with a brand new lineup that spans four 40mm references, three 36mm references, and one 43mm limited edition that has been directly inspired by a vintage Heuer diver from 1978. Reportedly thinner, lighter, and shorter lug-to-lug, with a bevy of colors and a smattering of titanium (and even diamonds), the new Tag Heuer Aquaracer Professional 300 looks streamlined, thoughtful, and as versatile as ever.
Speaking specifically to the standard production models, the 2021 Aquaracer line has been divided into two categories, 43mm (above) and 36mm (below). All seven of the new Aquaracers have a handsome new handset, a simplified dial design, a newly designed ceramic bezel insert, 300 meters water resistance, a screw-down crown, and a solid caseback.
Likewise, all iterations of the new WBP2XX (that’s the reference family) use TAG Heuer’s Caliber 5, an automatic movement based on the ETA 2824-2. With 42 hours of power reserve and a date display that has been placed at six o’clock, the Caliber 5 is an entirely known quantity and offers a lot in terms of reliable performance, timekeeping ability, and eventual service costs.
The general style is consistent across both size options, but you can quickly tell one from the other as the standard 43mm models have yellow text on the dial and a yellow accent at the point of the seconds hand. Additionally, the green-dial version at 43mm has a titanium case and bracelet (WBP208B.BF0631), and the blue 36mm Aquaracer (WBP231B.BA0618) has eight diamond hour markers
While the full and specific dimensions have not yet been disclosed, TAG Heuer has stated that the new Aquaracers are thinner, lighter, and have shorter lugs. Heuer has also fitted a new bracelet with a tool-less micro-adjust system in the clasp. It offers 1.5 cm of extension and can be adjusted without removing the watch from your wrist. This sort of thoughtful bracelet design is not common to the dive-watch scene, and I can’t wait to get a chance to take a look at the mechanism and try it out on my own wrist.
While certainly similar to the previous WAY2XX reference, these new Aquaracers look a lot less fussy. The dial has been simplified with new markers and less text, the hands are less complicated, and the date has been moved to six o’clock and is capped by a cyclops mounted inside the crystal. Likewise, the bezel design has been refined, with a more elegant font for the insert and jimping along the profile for better grip.
Put it all together, and this looks like a positive step forward for the Aquaracer, but I can’t help but scratch my head a bit at the sizing. The previous generation (using the same movement) was offered at 43mm and 41mm, so it’s a bit of a miss to offer this new one at 43mm and 36mm, but nothing in the middle. Brands like TAG Heuer must have appealing dive watches for everybody, and it’s hard to argue with the success of 40mm dive watches over, well, just about the entire history of the dive watch.
And while I don’t necessarily think that the 43mm version is going to be way too big (or that the 36mm is too small), I do think that the Aquaracer needs to exist in the 39-40mm range and that the need will only be more pressing in the coming years. That said, who knows, maybe a middle option is already in the works. It may seem like a nitpick – arguing the delta between 40 and 43mm – but think about how much a 2mm change meant to Tudor over the past couple of years. Size quibbles aside, it’s still refreshing to see Tag Heuer Aquaracer Professional 300 re-think the Aquaracer and, for one final new model, keep a fin firmly in the past.