Watches The eminently refined tool watch

Watches & Wonders 2023

6 min

Angus Davies Co-founder of Escapement Magazine

An evolution of the tool watch, but with a somptuous twist

TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 200 (WBP5152.FT6210)

Gold – coveted for centuries

Peruse the periodic table, searching the rows with an extended index finger, moving from left to right, and there, in Period 6, just to the right of platinum (Pt), you will discover gold!

Those two letters, Au, have evoked covetous thoughts for centuries. The famous gold funerary mask of Tutankhamun, dating back to ancient Egypt (14th century BCE), was composed of 11kg of the precious metal. Interestingly, when the death mask was found in 1925 by archaeologist Howard Carter, it was remarkably well preserved, testament to the durability of the golden material.

Bright, lustrous, dense and corrosion resistant, the many attributes of gold are widely known. The noble metal is also malleable and ductile. However, due to its softness, it is usually alloyed with other elements to make it harder, preventing it from changing shape. Primarily there are three colours of gold used for making jewellery and watches, namely yellow gold, rose gold and white gold. Various elements are added to achieve the desired shade, including silver, copper, platinum and palladium.

While some precious metals such as platinum or white gold can go unnoticed by an untrained eye, nothing says luxury as eloquently, or as noticeably, as yellow or rose gold. Now, TAG Heuer has employed these two latter hues of gold, creating new expressions of fine watchmaking.

TAG Heuer Aquaracer Profession 200 (WBP2151.FT6199 & WBP2451.FT6200)

An evolution of the tool watch, but with a sumptuous twist

Once considered a utilitarian object, the tool watch has become increasingly luxurious and an ever so stylish object of desire. Equally at home in the pool, worn with casual attire or paired with a cocktail suit, today’s tool watch is highly versatile, capable of fulfilling many roles.

In recent years, TAG Heuer has expended much energy refining various models within its product portfolio. Indeed, if you appraise the dial of a current generation TAG Heuer Carrera, examine the movement found in the latest Monaco or caress the ergonomic bracelet of an Aquaracer, the various upgrades are clear to see (and feel).

Last year, the Swiss Avant-garde company released the TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 200. This highly practical timepiece, water-resistant to 200 metres and incredibly legible, day or night, is another example of TAG Heuer’s gentrification strategy. Like its forebears, this watch articulates meaning clearly, employing plump hands, lined with luminescent treatment. However, this latest all-terrain model has clearly had a few elocution lessons with its faceted, highly lucid indexes readily engaging with light, not only fulfilling a practical role, but delivering a palpable degree of sophistication.

Rotating the unidirectional bezel delivers a sweet tactile encounter par excellence, all accompanied by a cathartic click-themed soundtrack. To the rear, the caseback is engraved with a hexagonal motif and compass. Such fastidious attention to detail seems a far cry from the rudimentary execution of vintage tool watches, originally designed purely to fulfil a professional purpose.

Continuously striving for excellence, TAG Heuer has now fused tool watch practicality with über-desirable precious metals. The Swiss firm has just released several new bi-colour versions of the Aquaracer Professional 200, uniting steel and gold. The company has also released two horological aristocrats, endowed with solid gold cases and bezels, which I will return to later.

TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 200 (WBP2150.FT6210)

Bi-colour – steel and gold

The steel and gold models comprise a steel case with an 18-carat solid gold bezel inlay and crown. Prospective owners are indulged with a choice of yellow or rose gold, with both colours adding a notable dose of warmth to the selected ensemble. The hands and indexes pair golden tones with white Super-LumiNova, a further example of how luxury and practicality happily coexist on these latest generation tool watches.

Would-be wearers have a choice of two case sizes, 40mm and 30mm. Each case variant is offered with either a blue or black smokey dial. The dials on the 40mm models are adorned with horizontal lines, while the 30mm references are appointed with mother-of-pearl dials, enlivened with diamond-set indexes. These luxurious models seem a far cry from the workaday tool watches of the past.

All models are equipped with an automatic movement positioned behind a solid caseback which is decorated with numerous hexagons and a compass. Moreover, all versions are presented on colour-coordinating rubber straps with ‘steel clasps and comfort link extension systems’. Proffering water resistance of up to 200m, the day-to-day practicality of these new Aquaracer models is beyond reproach.

TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 200 (WBP5140.FT6199)

Full gold - the ultimate tool watch

For those seeking the ultimate expression of luxury, TAG Heuer has created two new references, taking the use of gold to the max. Housed in a solid gold case, measuring 40mm in diameter, these new Aquaracers dwell on higher ground, far away from the lowly tool watches of yesteryear. They’ve attended Swiss finishing school and look appropriate in all social situations.

A black smokey dial paired with 18K rose gold or maybe a blue smokey dial housed in an 18K yellow gold case; it’s a difficult choice to make. Nevertheless, irrespective of the shade of gold selected, each case and bezel are enriched with a seemly blend of finely brushed and polished surfaces. The crown is presented in black DLC titanium, adding an interesting deviation from the golden theme while still delivering a cohesive aesthetic.

The full gold models are fitted with a new movement, the Calibre TH31-00 Automatic. Beyond its self-winding capability, the movement is an officially certified chronometer, independent assurance of its timekeeping prowess. Indeed, the brand states the accuracy of the watch is -4/+6 seconds per day. Furthermore, it has a prodigious power-reserve of 80 hours. This impressive degree of autonomy allows the owner to remove the watch on Friday evening and affix it to their wrist on Monday, safe in the knowledge that it will still be ticking precisely at 28,800 vibrations per hour. However, considering the versatility of the watch, it does beg the question, why would you ever wish to take it off?

Breaking with divers’ watch convention, the full gold models feature a sapphire crystal caseback, allowing the wearer to see the beautifully appointed movement. The bridges are decorated with Côtes de Genève and the movement features a bespoke oscillating weight embellished with eye-catching TAG Heuer branding.

With a plethora of sumptuous details, it would be very easy to forget that this full gold model has all the prerequisites of a tool watch. Like its steel and bi-colour siblings, the full gold model is water resistant to 200 metres (the clue’s in the name) and it has a unidirectional bezel for safely tracking time. Presented on a black rubber strap with a black DLC coated titanium clasp, the full gold options also come with an adjustment link extension as per other members of the TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 200 family. This feature provides the means to finely adjust the bracelet for the optimum wrist fit, augmenting wearer comfort.

Despite the sophisticated specification of these models, the bi-colour and full gold models make no concessions in terms of practicality. They are ideally suited to an active lifestyle, while their judicious use of gold exudes refinement. Most of all, these are watches that know how to behave in all situations. They are urbane, exhibit decorum at all times and are clearly the product of Swiss finesse.

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Angus Davies Co-founder of Escapement Magazine

Discover more articles by Angus Davies on