Top 16 Dive Watches In 2016: An Opinion – Part 5 Tag Heuer Aquaracer Automatic Chronograph + Longines Heritage Diver (1967 Chronograph) + Oris ProDiver Date 49mm
Previously, in part 4 of this series I reviewd; the Omega Planet Ocean 600m Co-Axial Chronograph 45.5mm [18.104.22.168.01.002], Breitling Superocean Chronograph M2000 [a73310a8/bb74-1lts], and Oris Aquis Depth Gauge Chronograph 48mm [01 774 7708 4154-Set RS].
12 – Tag Heuer Aquaracer Automatic Chronograph (43mm) [cay211b.ba0927] RRP: £2,750
Tag Heuer’s offering of a more wallet friendly automatic diving watch, with a ceramic bezel, is the Aquaracer Automatic Chronograph [cay211b.ba0927].
In Tag’s lineup, this watch straddles the gap between the entry quartz aquaracers and the 500m Automatic Chronograph Aquaracers (which have more than a passing resemblance to the Omega Seamaster 300m Diver Co-Axial Chronograph 42mm watch collection).
Buying this Tag Heuer Aquaracer gets you a well proportioned stainless steel watch, a metal bracelet with a safety latch, 300m of water resistance to play with, a ceramic uni-directional bezel and the workhorse Tag Heuer Caliber 16 chronograph movement inside.
It doesn’t make use of a helium escape valve – but considering the price I wasn’t expecting one (if your heart is set on a chronograph Tag with a helium escape valve then have a look at the Tag Heuer Aquaracer Automatic Chronograph 500M [Here]).
On the automatic Aquaracer’s dial, we have 3 subdials at the 12, 6 and 9; they display the 30-minute register, 12-hour register, and a small seconds subdial respectively. At the 3 o’clock position is a date window and the Tag Heuer logo. Its hands, indices hour markers and the top of the bezel each has had a luminescent compound applied.
There’s a ceramic uni-directional bezel that makes this watch more competitive (than this watches metal bezeled sibling) when compared to competing diving watches.
Within the 15mm case thickness but behind the solid case back is the Tag calibre 16 movement; originally designed by Valjoux but known as the ETA 7750 movement. It’s one of the most ubiquitous chronograph movements around, being used by luxury watch brands like Tudor, Panerai, Hublot and IWC, it’s easy to service and is a very durable movement that has a good accuracy considering its price. Tag have made their own modifications, on the ETA 7750 movement into the Tag calibre 16, to yield a power reserve of 42 hours, it beats at 28,000 v/h, contains 24 rubies, a date complication that can be quick set, and a chronograph complication.
Built as an introduction to the world of luxury watches the Aquaracer Automatic Chronograph’s sapphire crystal and ceramic bezel should repel scratching and most of the abuse you can throw at it, keeping it looking new for longer.
Variations: Bezel Type: Stainless Steel or Ceramic
Dial Colour: Black, Blue or White
Strap Type: Stainless Steel Bracelet or Black Fabric
Case material: Stainless Steel, Titanium, or Two-Tone Stainless Steel and Plated Yellow Gold
All variations of the Tag Heuer Aquaracer Automatic Chronograph are found from our [Shop Here] at a discounted price.
13 – Longines Heritage Diver (1967 Chronograph) [L2.808.4.52.9] RRP: £1,970
Both the Longines Heritage Diver’s retro aesthetics, high-quality chronograph movement, and reasonable asking price makes this a sought-after classic diving watch.
Taking inspiration, from as you may have guessed, a 1967 diving watch by Longines; the biggest aesthetic changes being the introduction of a running seconds dial at the 6 o’clock, and the addition of a date window between the 4 and 5-hour markers.
A capable diving watch this is, at a rated 300m of water resistance – it’s a watch which could happily go diving with you if you were to have the desire to do so.
Its polished 42mm stainless steel case is peculiarly polished for a diving tool watch, though the red aluminium bezel and playful contrasting white sub dials reassure that this is no dress watch, but compared to other dive watches – it’s a rather dressy dive watch, and at 16mm thick it does sit rather high up on the wrist.
The bezel is rather fascinating in design as it incorporates an aluminium diving bezel (uni-directional) and a 12 hour scale that can be used to give the time in different time zones with but a twist of the bezel – simpler than unscrewing a crown to change a secondary time zone hand on a GMT watch. Beneath the protective sapphire crystal, we have a stepped tachymeter scale that can be used to make quick calculations with the chronograph.
On the reverse of the watch, we have a solid case back with a spearfishing skin-diver in relief, a subtle reminder of Longines rich past. Talking about heritage – Longines is one of the oldest luxury watch brands around having started their journey way back in 1832 and was one of the first to get worldwide protection for their brand name and winged hourglass logo by being registered with the United International Bureaux for the Protection of Intellectual Property. And has been the oldest brand name to be registered with the WIPO (who is the current protector of intellectual property) that is still in use unchanged today.
Underneath the solid case back is one of this watches best features – the Longines Caliber L688.2 column wheel chronograph movement! Built by ETA exclusively for Longines use it’s something very unusual to see at this price point, because of the difficulties in constructing such a complicated movement. A large number of chronograph movements are simply a modular 3 hand (hour:minutes:seconds) movement with an add-on to gain the additional chronograph functionality. Due to the design nature of the Column wheel chronograph – all are required to be build around this fundamentally important component of the movement (making this integrated column wheel chronograph movement more expensive to develop and make).
It is a staggering attainment that Longines has created a watch with this type of chronograph movement at under £2K, with nearly all chronograph movements in this price range using cam-actuated movements (like the famous Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch); column wheel chronograph movements are considered more luxurious because the vertical clutch minimises stuttering when starting and stopping the timer. Brands that use this more luxurious movement include Rolex, Zenith, Girard-Perregaux and Omega on some of their high-end Speedmasters.
With a power reserve of 54hours, the Longines Caliber L688.2 should in theory still be telling the time after both of the Rolexes and Cartier Diver have run out of juice. The movement beats at 28,000 v/h.
Despite this vintage inspired Longines Heritage Diver watch looking rather simple in design it houses a complex movement type rarely seen on such an affordable watch. It’s also a very versatile watch which can be used as a diving watch (using the bezel to track elapsed time), as a chronograph (registering up to 12 hours), a quasi-GMT (with the use of the bezel) or a casual dress watch at a push.
14 – Oris ProDiver Date 49mm [01 733 7682 7154-07 4 26 34TEB] RRP: £1,650
Not quite as large as the Oris ProDiver Chronograph: Unboxing Review [01 774 7683 7154-Set] that I wrote about [Here], the non-chronograph version is a little smaller in width and marginally less tall by 3.5mm – at only 15.9mm thick, making this Oris ProDiver the more practical of the two.
With a brushed titanium casing, black rubber strap, lume applied high contrast dial markings, helium escape valve and the innovative rotation safety bezel – this Oris packs in heaps of features for such an affordable and inexpensive timepiece; a term which can only be used relative to other watches as no luxury watch is truly a necessity – being a non-essential item is admittedly one of the requirements for something to become a luxury.
I can’t think of many people who would require a watch to go any deeper than the rated 1000m – which just happens to be equal to the height of Mount Snowdon (Tallest mountain in Wales). Thinking about it some more I still can’t think of any people who would need to dive half that!
A clean dial from Oris showcases one of the things that Oris does rather well – making good quality and functional tool watches, with its clean and well-proportioned dial that has a good amount of contrast between the hour markers and matt black dial behind. Oris as a brand may not be considered the most luxurious or sophisticated; but, along with Longines, they provide a very high-quality watch to price ratio.
Each marker has had Superluminova BG W9 applied that is considered the brightest Superluminova to appear white in daylight conditions.
An Oris 733 based SW 200-1 movement that packs in a central hour, minute and second hand and a date window that is hacking and quick changing is used under the solid titanium case back. It winds automatically, bi-directionally with their red rotor, at 28,800 v/h at a somewhat short 38-hour power reserve.
The Oris ProDiver Date 49mm is available on both a black rubber diving strap with a titanium folding clasp and diving extension, or for a modest price premium a titanium metal bracelet with a push button safety.
Variations: Strap: Black Rubber or Titanium Bracelet [Shop Here].
Continue: Part 6 Oris + Tissot (coming soon)!