In 1978, the century-old TAG Heuer launched a model that would set the standard for diving watches around the world. It was Heuer ref. 844, with its iconic dial, red 24-hour scale, fired hour markers, and a diving bezel with a perfectly transparent minute scale. Since then, many other models have been released, and the 844 has become a collector’s item.
More than 40 years later, TAG Heuer revisits its greatest classic with the launch of the Aquaracer Professional 300, which blends the extreme performance and functionality of a diving watch with the versatility and luxury look for an urban environment. To this end, the company’s designers have dedicated themselves to updating the six striking features of the Aquaracer collection: unidirectional rotating bezel, threaded crown, water resistance to at least 200 meters, luminous markers, a sapphire crystal and a double safety clasp.
“This new collection continues our tradition in diving and watchmaking. However, we wanted the new pieces to better reflect this diving tradition of TAG Heuer, which originally gave rise to the Aquaracer line”, explained the product director at EXAME to EXAME TAG Heuer, Guy Bove. “In that sense, the Heuer ref. 844 is a benchmark, elevating the Aquaracer Professional 300 to the world of luxury. That’s what makes it a masterpiece.”
Despite keeping the iconic features of its predecessors, the new model is thinner and lighter, giving more sophistication and ergonomics to the user. The integrated metal bracelet even has a fine adjustment system that extends or reduces the length of the bracelet by up to 1.5 cm, allowing it to be resized for use over a diving suit, for example.
The main collection is made up of seven references in two sizes: qfour will have a case diameter of 43 mm, and three will have a case of 36 mm. Six will be stainless steel, with a choice of black, blue or silver dials. There will also be a 43mm piece in high-tech grade 2 matte titanium with a green dial.
Limited edition for collectors
There is even a limited edition version for collectors. Called “Aquaracer Professional 300 Tribute to Ref. 844”, it mixes a high-tech grade 5 titanium case with a series of visual elements from the historic 78 model. Of this version, only 844 units were produced, sold for R$24 thousand each. Already the “common” versions of the new Aquaracer cost about R$15,000.
“When it comes to references, we don’t believe in a strict renaissance of historic watches, but rather in drawing inspiration from specific references and designs,” says Bove of the tribute to the 844. modern design, we’ve managed to build a new watch that will resonate with the past. That’s what we’ve done with the 844 we have now.”
Read the full interview with Guy Bove, Product Director at TAG Heuer below:
EXAME: What are the technical challenges of creating a watch that is both instrumental and casual?
Guy Bove: Our challenge is always to create watches with a bold design, but elegant and high performance. On the Aquaracer Professional 300, for example, our focus was to improve the user experience with an update to the bezel rotation mechanism and safety clasp, with fine adjustments in length that also allow the watch to be worn over a wetsuit. In terms of design, we turned to the most visually appealing and recognizable element of this model, the 12-faceted unidirectional bezel. We’ve kept the basic shape and evolved it by integrating a scratch-resistant ceramic insert and fluting each of the 12 facets so that the bezel is easy to grip and rotate, regardless of the situation.
How does this new model synthesize the brand’s legacy? Besides the technical part, what makes it a masterpiece?
This new collection continues our tradition in diving and watchmaking. The case design shares a lot of the DNA of the existing Aquaracer line, with a very consistent look and feel. However, we wanted the new parts to better reflect the TAG Heuer diving watch tradition, which originally gave rise to the Aquaracer range. In this sense, Heuer ref. 844 is a reference. It was from him that we took the longer protection of the crown, the serration on the edges of the bezel, which is cleaner and led us to remove the riders that appeared in the TAG Heuer 2000 collection, and the dial with its numbers 12, 3, 6 and 9 very strong.
In the case of the new Aquaracer Professional 300, we’ve redesigned the 4 strong markers to a trapezoidal shape and the round markers to an octagonal shape to work well with the 12-facet bevel. The high details in the finish of the Aquaracer Professional 300 elevate it to the world of luxury, and that’s what makes it a masterpiece.
Despite their sporting potential, watches are adapting to casual wear, becoming less robust, more colorful and fun. In this sense, what can we expect from watchmaking in the future?
While this is a trend – and you’ll find that, in many of our launches, we’ve been going in this direction for literally decades – we will not compromise on the quality or durability of our watches. In fact, this criterion makes it impossible for some of our ideas to make it to production because they wouldn’t pass our rigorous testing. So, at least from TAG Heuer, you can expect a continual duality between lasting quality and strong, new and colorful designs.
How was the development of the Tribute to Ref 844 version? What were the concerns when referencing such an iconic model?
The Heuer ref. 844 was the first watch that our brand made specifically for diving, in 1979. It was a very important piece in the history of TAG Heuer and the starting point for what the Aquaracer is today. So it seemed important to me to celebrate this heritage. When it comes to references, at TAG Heuer we don’t believe in a strict renaissance of historical watches. We believe much more in drawing inspiration from specific references and designs, combining them with modern techniques as well as modern design codes to build a new watch that will resonate with the past. That’s what we did with the 844 we have now.
From a design standpoint, we wanted to bring to this edition some of the visual depth that was present in the original model: the serrations on the sides of the bezel, the prominent crown protection, the clear distinctions between the four main hour markers and the others eight, as well as the thinnest caseband. For the Ref 844, and also for the entire Aquaracer Professional 300 collection, we tried to work on the overall harmony to make it distinct from other diving watches and, at the same time, authentic to our brand.