HANDS ON: The return of a dark legend, with the lumelicious TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 300 Night Diver HANDS ON: The return of a dark legend, with the lumelicious TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 300 Night Diver

HANDS ON: The return of a dark legend, with the lumelicious TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 300 Night Diver

Thor Svaboe

For many people, a TAG Heuer is their first good mechanical Swiss watch. While some swear allegiance to the classic Carrera, personally I love the motor-racing vibes of their vintage-inspired references and, yes, I do feel a bit more like Steve McQueen when I wear the Monaco. But one thing TAG Heuer does best, is a great sports watch, and this year at Watches and Wonders, I was knocked out by the new Aquaracer Professional 300 series as TAG Heuer just cranked up the coolness with the two strongest colours on cool rubber straps, alongside the return of a legend.

The Case and Straps

I know, I seriously enjoy smaller watches, but I like the mid size 43mm of the TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 300 collection.  The broad shouldered brushed case of this 300m depth rated diver’s tool hits my comfort sweet spot while looking damn tough on this new integrated rubber strap. The case itself will not create any headlines for innovation, but with a solid sports watch that is exactly how I like it, and all the recognizable design cues are here, but honed to perfection. The broad crown guards are proportionate in their angular charm, while rounded just enough to make unscrewing the crown a comfortable task.

While the angular-toolery of the three-link bracelet is superb, these references come on the soft comfort of a rubber strap, tapered towards the brilliance of TAG Heuers new and smoothly adjustable folding clasp. The  strap is colour matched to the tough black or fresh blue dial, and it has a smooth feeling sliding clasp that allows for a level of fine adjustment that accommodates a wetsuit (real diving, imagine!) or that feeling when your wrist swells from the high summer heat. This is a great addition, while the rubber strap itself does make 43mm sit like a glove through its natural wrist hugging embrace. A new, pronounced and broad bevel runs the length of the case, sweeping down the lugs, bringing an exquisite touch to what is a tool watch by name and trade.

The Bezel and Dials

The angular cool of the polished and grippable 12-sided bezel with its ceramic insert is repeated in the new octagonal, thick lumed indexes, making the new dial design as strong as it is balanced. The quadrants are marked by bold, stubby arrowheads, except for 6 o’clock, which has a frankly delightful date window. Don’t even start on the no-date argument, this is a tool watch, dates are important, and come on! The under-crystal circular cyclops at 6 makes the date window a feature instead of timidly trying to camouflage it, and for me it’s love at first sight. The Aquaracer date effortlessly balances out the graphics of the dial, while ever so tangy pops of orange completes a picture of summer cool, whether on the strict tool-formality of the black dial, of the summer fresh blue.

But wait, The main news here, despite my newfound love for date windows and the strong sword hands of the new TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 300 series, is the return of a legend, well known by those of us of eighties and nineties nostalgia. The Night Diver.  All brash coolness in a dark suit, this 43mm steel tough guy has the menacing vibe as the sports watch of an Imperial Storm Trooper, and brings legibility to a new level. The striated arctic white dial is fully lumed with green Super-Luminova, making this dark DLC cased trooper light up your descent to the ocean depths. An intense play of colours will ensue, as the quadrant indexes are filled with a matching green lume, while the life-saving dive time function of the ceramic bezel has an intense blue flash matching with the broad sword hands.

A Dark Conclusion

I have no doubt the comfort of these new rubber straps and the dark intrigue of cool monochrome paired with night-time colours makes for one of the coolest releases this year from TAG Heuer. Like the blue and black dial references, the Night Diver’s light show is backed by the bullet-proof in-house Caliber 5 automatic movement, beating at 28,800 beats per hour with a  38hour power reserve. And while I do love the cool black with touches of orange, and the intense blue with its matching rubber comfort, this time I’m putting all my chips on black. And it might be my imagination, but between those octagonal indexes, I could have sworn I saw the date window wink at me..

The TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 300, price and availability:

The TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 300 with a blue or black dial is $3950 AUD on a rubber strap

The TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 300 Night Diver is $3950 AUD on a rubber strap

For more details, visit TAG Heuer right here.

Made in partnership with TAG Heuer. However, the opinions expressed in this article are our own in accordance with our Editorial Policy.