In moments of bald (and fleeting) honesty, I will sometimes admit to myself I wish my life had turned out differently. That instead of spending my days at a computer, tapping keys for a living, I had been born with a more dominant adventure gene.
I comfort myself that it’s in me somewhere. Not just a lust for adventuring. The gene. My grandfather was a commander in the Royal Navy. He had his own boat. His first cousin was an Antarctic explorer. Pop ‘Swithinbank Glacier’ into Google Maps. While you still can, that is. Proof of my adventurous DNA might yet melt.
This thought occurs to me every time I come into contact with a watch like TAG Heuer’s latest, the irrepressibly outdoorsy Aquaracer Professional 200 Solargraph, just released in titanium. My grandfather and his first cousin have long since passed, but I can well imagine they would have loved it.
Because its technical, practical and handsome, and has the sort of credentials people who rely on extreme kit for their survival tend to like. It’s a proper tool. A cool tool, at that.
The featherweight titanium case helps. And because it’s sand-blasted, the blinding mid-summer glacial sun won’t glare off it, either. A plus point.
Then there are the nuts and bolts. The Solargraph’s engine is solar-powered and charges using solar panels hidden in the dial. It’ll run for a full six months, even if you cover it in Factor 50 and bury it in the snow. You can dive with it, too, or go anywhere.
I think they would have loved the lume on the watch, as well. The hour markers and hand glow green in the dark; the minutes and seconds hands a “polar blue”. A small detail, perhaps, but one that might come in handy if you’ve lined the minute hand up with the rotating bezel to time how long the twin-prop can stay on the ice before its fuel freezes.
Have I ever needed that? No. And, with apologies to my more courageous forefathers, I’m pretty sure I won’t, either. But I like the idea that one day I might. And just as much, I like the idea of a watch I could take with me come the time. Now, if you’ll excuse me, my tea’s getting cold.
Robin Swithinbank Journalist