Tag Heuer Aquaracer review WAY101A, WAY101B, WAY101C
In times of doom and gloom, panic buying and a near global lockdown, we all need a ray of sunshine in our lives! So today I’m going to share with you the little bundle of joy that is the Tag Heuer Aquaracer 300m Quartz series - in particular the WAY101A, 101B and 101C models.
To me, these watches are a great example of an entry level piece into the luxury watch market as they are so simple to use and fun to look at. Retailing at £1450, the quartz models are considerably cheaper than their automatic counterparts (the WAY201A and B), which retail at £2195. So what do you get for the £745 price saving?
First things first, in order to bring the price down Tag have had to make some changes that are more than just a movement change. In doing so, Tag have had to strip down some of the visual detailing that we would otherwise find on the automatic watch. When comparing the two, we can immediately see that the quartz watch looks very stripped down. Notice the lack of those beautifully cut lines in the dial, less wording and the absence of that wonderfully cut triangular seconds hand.
Along with this we can see the removal of the cyclops window from the sapphire crystal (to the joy of some) and a slight difference in the ceramic bezel. Rather than having an engraved ceramic bezel like the automatic, the quartz’s ceramic bezel has the numbers and markers printed on.
That’s where the visual differences stop really. As an end result, we get a battery operated watch that is an undeniably cleaner and simpler looking piece than its automatic cousin - yet it is still faithful to the Aquaracer series' DNA. Owed to the careful preservation of the stand-out features that make the Aquaracer what it is. Features such as those chunky applied indices, the classic diving helmet engraving on the screwed down case back and that iconic 12 facet ceramic bezel.
Not to forget that this watch IS STILL a fully functioning dive watch. It may not look as robust as the Calibre 5 but it sure provides the same core diving features needed; including luminous markers for full visibility at all depths, secure screw down crown, anti-reflective sapphire crystal and steel bracelet with diver extension and security clasp.
Enough comparison, let’s have a look at the WAY101 series on its own in closer detail. DIAL, BEZEL & CASE
The simplicity of the dial and bezel are really what make this watch pop for me - especially on the red and blue versions. The colours are not so bright that they are absolutely in your face, but they are for sure noticeable whilst retaining a degree of subtlety.
There’s nothing complicated about this watch at all, it’s so easy to read the time thanks to those bold hands and markers. Even in the dark the time is so clear to read because of the bright, crisp Luminova that Tag have used on the hands and markers - with exception to the seconds hand. I absolutely love the way that Tag have used the two-tone Luminova scheme to clearly distinguish the 12, 3, 6 and 9 markers on the watch, along with the tips of the hour and minute hands.
During the daytime the seconds hand really does come into its own. It is so thinly precise that its near impossible to not have accurate time keeping. The little dash of colour on the end that contrasts against the base colour of the watch helps drag your attention to the seconds hand very quickly instead of having to search for it on the dial. A lovely little touch here by Tag, it really makes the watch look more fun.
The date is presented in a nicely sized date window with big numbers that can easily be identify when looking down at the wrist.
The 12 faceted ceramic unidirectional bezel is so grippy, making it very easy to turn even with diving gloves on. Barely any effort required at all.
As for the steel work on the watch, its nothing less than art. The contrast between the polished and brushed steel throughout the whole of the case and dial is absolutely stunning. The picture above highlights how well the two finishes complement each other and really set the watch off.
When the light hits the watch the polished steel dazzles in all the right places. The brushed finish then refines this dazzle and stops the watch from becoming too flashy - genius.
Even the way that the case tapers in at the lugs helps the watch to look less clunky and rather more refined. The protruding squared mid-section acts as a nice little thumb placement, providing resistance when turning the crown.
Now, warning to all the watch snobs out there, you may want to quit reading right here - because in my opinion, the tapering on this Aquaracer isn’t a million miles away from the tapering on the Rolex Sub (please dont hurt me). They both have that bold feel to them, without having that smoothed edge tapering as something such as an Omega Seamaster. The Aquarcer seems to sit visually somewhere in-between.
CROWN & CASEBACK
The thick, riveted crown is big enough to get an easy hold onto in order for us to pop the crown out, even with gloves on. The crown is very smooth to turn whilst still maintaining that essential grip, thus making time and date changes so easy.
The case back is precisely engraved, as with all Aquaracers, sporting the classic diving helmet and details of the watch.
STRAP & CLASP
The strap on this watch can be interchanged between a steel strap, rubber strap or even NATO strap of your choice. Doing so is super easy as long as you have a decent spring bar remover. The steel bracelet (BA0746) is my personal favourite so I’ll stick to reviewing it in this blog.
This bracelet is very sturdy and robust, without being too weighty. In fact, I would go out on a limb and say that the strap is fairly light for a steel strap. As for the links, the lug ends fit nice a snug, absolutely no play at all and the links taper nicely from the lugs to the clasp where they get slightly smaller.
Similar to the steel on the case, the strap and clasp feature a contrast of brushed and polished steel which uplifts the strap from having a dull, boring feel and helps it to synergise with the body of the watch more.
The clasp is very smart and simple, branded with the TAG Heuer wording. It is very simple to operate by pressing in the two clips to release the extension arm. A further tug helps to reveal the diving extension. If further adjustment is required, the clasp does feature some micro-adjustment pin holes for fine tuning. One thing to mention to all you perfectionists out there, the clasp does not perfectly align with the strap links. Rather it protrudes ever so slightly. Some people have mentioned that this can cause the clasp to sometimes snag on materials such as woollen jumpers - a very minor issue.
The watch is a 43mm diameter but also comes in a smaller 41mm version (WAY111 series) for those that prefer something a bit smaller on the wrist. However, I encourage you to not be put off by the large diameter of this watch because it doesn’t actually feel as monstrous on the wrist as a lot of other 43mm watches do.
This is owed to two things; 1) the thickness of the watch 2) the tapered case. As this watch is a quartz operated piece its slightly thinner than its automatic rivals – measuring in at an 11.15mm in thickness. Due to this, the watch sits very flush on the wrist, no “fat butt” syndrome here at all. As for the tapered case, it makes the watch look a lot more slim, less squared and chunky. Kind of like how Homer Simpson looks with his body hack.
Id like to add that the watch isn’t that weighty on the wrist either as you would probably expect with most larger, steel watches.
So lets wrap things up and ask ourselves one final question – is it worth “downgrading” for the £745 price saving? Well, honestly, it all depends on what you want the watch for. If you are a beginner to the luxury watch community, if you want something simplistic yet casual and smart, if you want something that is easy to use and maintain, if you want something to wear as an every day watch, if you want something that you can wear as a summer watch and still play sports in – then yes, it is definitely worth saving the extra £745 as this watch is an ideal choice for you.
Or better yet, save yourself even more by shopping around on the used market where you can pick one of these bad boys up for around £900-£1000. Just please remember to use a reputable second-hand dealer like ourselves.