TAG Heuer returns to the Aquaracer with the new Professional 200. We get up close to the novelty and bring you this hands-on review.
Review: TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 200
This hands on review is of the Ref. WBP2110.BA0627 with the black fumé gradient dial. The same watch is also available with a blue fumé gradient dial as Ref. WBP2111.BA0627. Retail price for both models is SGD 3,750 inclusive of GST. Several other model options are also released today.
The TAG Heuer Professional legacy
The TAG Heuer Professional story began in 1978, when Jack Heuer introduced the Heuer Reference 844 – a watch designed for the rugged outdoor sports and adventure, and made to be reliable under extreme conditions. Part of this transformed itself to the Professional Series. The 1000 and 2000 Series were the models that came to symbolise TAG Heuer in the 70s through the noughties. The 1000 was the first Heuer diving watch, released in the 1970s, and this was continued with the first 2000 series watches which were released just as the company was facing bankruptcy in 1982. The series continued in 1985 under the then new TAG Heuer branding. The Aquaracer name was added in 2004, and continued the six point design code first used in the 1000 – a uni-directional rotating bezel; a screw-down crown; water resistance to at least 200 meters; luminous markings; a sapphire crystal; and a double safety clasp. More details on the 1000 and 2000 series is found on this article on Caliber 11.
In 2021, TAG Heuer released the Aquaracer Professional 300 during Watches & Wonders 2021, marketed as their ultimate dive watch. This Series now has 6 men’s, 3 ladies references plus 3 limited editions (including the new Naomi Osaka Edition), and remain their top tier dive watch. This year, at LVMH Watch Week, TAG Heuer releases the Aquaracer Professional 200: as a smaller sister mode. The Professional 300 had a robust 43mm and 36mm case with ceramic bezels. The Professional 200 also comes in two sizes – a 40mm case and a 30mm case. Other than the lower retail price, the new Aquaracer Professional 200’s diving scale is engraved onto a steel bezel insert rather than on ceramic. And an aesthetic choice, TAG Heuer chose to polish the central bracelet link. This gives the watch a more formal feel, as the Aquaracer Professional 200 is intended to cross codes, from sea to mountain, via the office and weekend hangout.
The new Aquaracer Professional 200 models is offered with a choice of movements. In the 40mm collection, there are two automatic and two quartz references, while at 30mm there are two automatics and five quartz options. This marks another departure from the Aquaracer Professional 300, which is only available with an automatic mechanical movement. Automatics are distinguished by their fumé gradient dials, date windows, Super-LumiNova sweeping seconds hands, and more detailed minute tracks. The quartz models have no date and a pared-back look by comparison, while otherwise retaining the same aesthetic and technical characteristics.
The case, dial and hands
The case is a complex shape. Perhaps best described as an angular tonneau shape. It looks like it is hewn from one solid block of stainless steel, and given a matte, satin finish on the surfaces with polished edge chamfers. The lugs flow naturally from the main case body, and are rather short and have the same alternate brushed matte finish with polished chamfers. The overall impression of the case is one which gives the assurance of ruggedness, and readiness for adventure. Two “ears” stick out from the side with the one at 3 o’clock offering protection to the crown. The crown itself is rather massive, with 12 facets in the grooves for better handling. As the Aquaracer Professional 200 is compliant to the 6 point design blueprint, the crown is screw down, and the entire case is rated to 20 ATM for water resistance.
The bezel too is a massive, flat affair, also with 12 sides, a design aesthetic first used by TAG Heuer in 1995. Of course, it offers a uni-directional rotation with a mechanism which is very pleasant to operate. The clicks are distinct, but yet have a smooth and fluid like in feel. Finished with a radial graining, it is engraved with 5 minute markers – an inverted triangle for the 60, and Arabic numerals for 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 with bars for 5, 15, 25, 35, 45 and 55.
The dial is very clearly laid out, and features repeating horizontal line decorations, mildly reminiscent of the dial pattern on the Patek Philippe Nautilus. The lines are interrupted the bold text proclaiming “AQUARACER” and the TAG Heuer badge below the 12 marker. The rules are again interrupted with the designation “AUTOMATIC” and “200 m / 660 ft” in two lines below the center. The dial on our review sample is a charcoal black, and features a fumé gradient which goes from dark in the perimeter to lighter in the center. A rather beautiful aesthetic. Hour markers are trapezoidal shaped appliqué, with a polished and faceted frame infilled with lume. The hour and minute hands are similarly finished with a polished frame over the lume infill, and are sword shaped. The long, slender center seconds hand carries a cartouche with lume infilling. The minutes are marked in a raised track on the periphery with short dashes, interrupted by squares every 5 minute interval. The rehaut is vertical and appears to be polished. The overall look of the dial is a cool monotone.
The bracelet is designed with three links, with the center link being polished vis a vis the flanking links being matte finished. The bracelet feels flexible and follow the natural curvature of the wrist rather well, and combined with the 40mm case diameter, provides good wear comfort. The bracelet also comes with a comfort link with a 7mm extension which can be adjusted quickly with a push-down-and-pull release mechanism.
The movement: TAG Heuer Caliber 5
The caseback is closed, and features the usual engravings spelling out the model name, the water resistance rating and the fact that it is Swiss Made. On the center is a medallion with a six cardinal compass which is reversed engraved. This is a hint to the go-anywhere intent of the watch, and replaces the scaphander diving helmet featured on Aquaracer case backs since 2002. This compass sits on the backdrop of engraved hexagonal divots first seen on the Aquaracer Professional 300. The case back is slightly raised, with polished shoulders.
The movement used in the Aquaracer Professional 200 is the TAG Heuer Caliber 5, the same movement found in the larger Aquaracer Professional 300. This is a movement based on either the ETA 2824-2 or Sellita SW200-1. Finishing levels can vary, depending on which is selected by TAG Heuer. Most, but not all of the Caliber 5 movements feature Côtes de Genève decorating on the rotor, which is also engraved with TAG Heuer / Calibre 5 / Swiss Made as shown below. As we did not remove the case back to examine the movement, we do not know what finishing level is specified for the Aquaracer Professional 200. The photograph shows the Caliber 5 made from the ETA base, and is lifted from the TAG Heuer website and may not be representative of the movement found in the review watch.
However, we have encountered the Caliber 5 in other TAG Heuer watches, and have found that regardless of the finishing levels, the movement is robust, reliable and a proper workhorse.
The Aquaracer Professional 200 occupies a landscape which is very crowded. And there are many options in the world of go-anywhere, do-anything tool watches, with diving credentials. So perhaps it is not useful to list all the possible competitors. May we suggest two for illustration instead. At below SGD 4k, the pricing of the TAG Heuer is quite competitive for a dive watch rated to 200m, and with an aesthetic which can slip from adventure, to leisure, to formal easily.
Tudor Black Bay series is perhaps a strong player in this field. As the Rolex subsidiary, it has the marketing and manufacturing prowess to feature on any shortlist. Our pick is the Black Bay Steel, offered at higher price point of SGD 5,520. But the Tudor carries a superior in-house MT 5612 COSC certified movement with 70 hours power reserve. It is also 41mm in case diameter, and features a similar steel bezel. Water resistance is also rated at 20ATM. The Black Bay is somewhat thicker, and perhaps loses a touch of elegance in comparison.
Bell & Ross BR 05 series is another consideration. The obvious aesthetic difference is the BR is based on a rounded square design. The BR-CAL.321 movement used is also a basic automatic movement based on the Selitta SW300. Water resistance rating is only 10ATM, and thus not rated for diving. Bell & Ross markets the BR 05 as an urban watch, suitable for any situation which might be thrown at it in a urban landscape. It is also considerably more expensive, with the BR 05 Black Steel starting the collection at SGD 7,300.
The Aquaracer Professional 200 is a well conceived diver / tool watch. The overall look and feel of is one conveys a strong adventure spirit. Tough and rugged. And because of the thin-ness of the case, measuring only 12mm, is rather elegant at the same time. So the intent of TAG Heuer for the watch to move seamlessly from high energy activities to boardroom to leisure seems to be fitting. Combined with the modest pricing, this is certainly a strong option and good value proposition for a utility watch for every occasion.
The TAG Heuer Professional 200 was photographed in the LVMH Singapore offices. Fujifilm GFX 50S II with Hasselblad HC 4/120 Macro and HC 2.8/80 + H26 extension tube. Profoto strobes.
TAG Heuer Professional 200 Specifications
Calibre 5 Automatic
Black or blue slightly smoky, sunray brushed dial
Indexes & hands fi lled with white Super-LumiNova®
40 mm diameter
Steel polished, fi ne brushed case
Steel 60 minute scale unidirectional turning bezel.
Water resistance: 200 metres
Steel 3-row bracelet
Steel folding clasp with double safety push-buttons
Adjustment link extension