Thursday, 6 April 2017

ON THE WRIST: Aquaracer Calibre 16 Chronograph


Beaverbrooks / Leicester 27th December 2016

I'd pretty much forgotten about trying this one on, it was just after Christmas so the finer details are a little hazy, but still. If I remember correctly I tried three Aquaracers on at the same time, and this was the most expensive. Rightly so of course as I think the other two were quartz movements. This was also the most substantial and according to TAG Heuer's website this has a list price of £2750.

To be honest I didn't remember that it was that much, I thought it was in the low £2000s, and I don't remember it being on sale or anything. Would I spend £2750 on this watch though? I don't know that I would. This is largely because I don't think of the Aquaracer as being a particularly luxurious watch, perhaps because you can get something which looks similar for a lot less with a quartz movement.

Leaving that aside, it's a nice looking watch and sports a ceramic bezel and a 300M water resistance (sure TAG do make some 500M models, but from what I understand hardly anyone goes deeper than 40M so this should be more than adequate for most people's needs and let's be honest, who wears a £3000 watch to dive in?). The movement is the Calibre 16, which is the same movement I have just purchased in my Formula One CAU2012 and one which I find unusually 'mechanical' feeling. Kind of reminds me of winding an old clock, much less refined than either the Heuer 01 or the Calibre 60 (in the Aquagraph), but still presumably a solid and reliable calibre.

I seem to remember the lume on this was pretty good, as most Aquaracers tend to be, and the small amount of yellow text on the dial and seconds hand is a nice accent. I'm not sure if the 'slatted' dial adds a lot here, I think it's more effective on a plain dial three hander, but it's not doing any harm.

Looking at this watch, I can't help but make comparisons with my Aquagraph. Leaving aside the fact that the Aquagraph is a 500M diver, there are distinct similarities in appearance. Both have black chrono dials with yellow accents (albeit the Aquagraph has a steel bezel) and both come on similar steel bracelets. So some might imagine this as a modern alternative, but I can hand on heart say there is no way I would trade my Aquagraph for this.


Inflation adjusted, this Aquaracer is cheaper, but you can pick up a clean Aquagraph for about £1300 and I think you're getting a more interesting watch. True, it's much more of a tool watch and this Aquaracer is much more capable as an all-rounder and suitable as an 'only' watch, but for me the Aquagraph is just so much cooler. For a start you can use the chronograph underwater, I know I never will, but I could and I think the rubber pushers look great. Also the Aquagraph is smaller in dia, but more chunky and tank-like, it means business and weighs a ton, it's loaded with personality that this new Aquaracer just doesn't possess. 

Still, you could argue of course that were TAG to launch the Aquagraph today, it would probably cost more like £4000, in which case it's probably unfair to make a direct comparison. 

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