Watches Orange And The Big Blue

5 min

The story behind the color that symbolizes safety and security at sea.


You see it on flotation devices in swimming pools. You see it painted on traffic cones. You see it on those big signs that read ‘Caution’ or ‘Road work ahead’. To the untrained eye, the color you see is orange. But some of you may know the hue by its more professional names: safety orange, blaze orange, vivid orange or if you’re really into this kind of thing, OSHA orange. (Let’s go with safety orange for now.) But of all the colors in the spectrum, why is orange the color of safety at sea? Why didn’t the world choose vibrant yellow, or bright green? Let’s take a deep dive into how safety orange became, well, safety orange.


The science behind safety orange

The story of safety orange began in the 1950s. In the United States, it became the color standard in technical manuals and federal regulations. The hue was chosen for its effectiveness in setting objects apart from their natural environment. Especially against blue skies and seas. During the time, a panel of experts discovered something interesting. They found that fluorescent orange was the most visible color for most people under the widest variety of conditions. The reason for safety orange’s high visibility? Well, it’s down to science. It’s down to how molecules absorb energy when exposed to certain wavelengths of light. UV-reactive fluorescence emits light in the presence of UV radiation. This causes a boost in our color perception, making hues like safety orange appear brighter and bolder to our brains. And that’s how safety orange came to dot our oceans.


A color with a purpose

It’s loud. It’s vivid. It’s attention grabbing. Safety orange seeks to jump out and seize your eyeballs, triggering your brain into a state of alertness. So it does its job of drawing your attention to incidents at sea, or even underwater. A searing mix of yellow and red, it’s a color with a purpose: to stand out and keep you safe. Safety orange highlights things that need protection. The color’s saturation helps our eyes identify people, boats and objects as worthy of care.

Orange is omnipresent

From life vests and buoys to race tracks and NASA spacesuits, you’ll find this orange wherever safety is key. Most colors change, based on how artists use them as well as the trends of the time. But safety orange doesn’t get a makeover. Ever. It has become the universal color for safety.


A renewed myth in orange

TAG Heuer understands the importance of orange at sea. That’s why the color has been a constant source of inspiration for its dive watches. Standing out amongst the austere black dials of most dive watches, orange has made a number of appearances in the TAG Heuer diving universe over the years. And it’s a pleasure to see it return with the new Aquaracer Professional 300 Orange Diver. Inspired by the orange diver reference 844, a favorite among collectors, the Orange Diver is both vibrant and familiar.

The tone used on the orange dial strikes a strong contrast against the blue of the ocean, making the watch appear brighter and bolder underwater. In terms of design, the Orange Diver has a fine brushed and polished 43mm case in stainless steel, with a white tip on the seconds hand. This new piece uses the same design codes as the Aquaracer Professional 300 range.

Discover the renewed myth here.