TAG Heuer Introduces the Aquaracer Solargraph 34 mm

A solar-powered sports watch for ladies.

Following the original Aquaracer Solargraph two years ago, the affordable solar-powered dive watch now debuts in a more compact format with the Aquaracer Professional 200 Solargraph that has a 34 mm case containing the solar-powered TH50-01.

Initial thoughts

The Aquaracer has long been one of TAG Heuer’s main entry-level offerings. For several years, however, the models were mostly big or bulky, until the brand released the more wearable and solar-powered 40 mm model two years ago.

The new Solargraph maintains the familiar design and solar-powered movement but with a smaller case. With a diameter of 34 mm, this model leans towards being a women’s watch, so an in-between or “mid size” model of 37 mm or 38 mm is arguably still missing. Nevertheless, the vibrant dial offerings – that importantly do not reveal the solar panels – are noteworthy and hopefully indicate more variety is coming to the larger model.

With prices starting at US$2,150, the value proposition  is reasonable, given the execution of the case and dial, and the innovative solar calibre (at least for a Swiss brand).

As an aside, Swiss-made solar-powered movements are relatively uncommon, making this a relatively unusual proposition. While there have been a handful of solar-powered models from Cartier, they haven’t made it to the market in significant numbers, perhaps due to difficulties in mastering production on a large scale. In contrast, Japanese brands like Citizen easily produce several million solar-powered watches a year.

Consequently, TAG Heuer stands out as perhaps the only Swiss manufacturer with a sizeable presence in solar-powered watches – thanks to its partnership with Citizen, which supplied the tech for the movements via its Swiss subsidiary La Joux-Perret.

A solar-powered sports watch

The new Solargraph is available in four dial configurations: radially brushed blue, concentrically pattern light green, and white mother-of-pearl, with the options of diamond markers for the mother-of-pearl version. Crucially, all dial variants look like ordinary watch dials with applied hour markers.

Although solar technology requires dials to be semi-transparent to harness the Sun’s energy, the Solargraph dials look like conventional dials, an important element in looking like a conventional watch as opposed to a gadget. Both the green and blue dials, for instance, resemble metallic finish dials.

The new Solargraph retains the familiar Aquaracer case that’s descended from the 2000 Series of the 1990s. The polygonal bezel features trapezoid-shaped tabs that echo the trapezoidal indices on the dial. Notably, the tabs feature recessed centres with a frosted finish that are outlined by polished, raised borders, adding a more refined touch to the overall look.

The case is finished in the same spirit, with a combination of brushed and polished surfaces. The mirror-polished bevels along the lugs trace the profile of the case, while the bracelet is brushed on its outer links with mirror-polished centre links.

The watch is equipped with the TH-01, a solar-powered quartz movement that eliminates the need for battery replacement since the battery is charged by solar panels under the dial that work on both sunlight or artificial light. A mere two minutes of exposure to sunlight is enough for a full charge that lasts 10 months.

The surprising level of technology in the movement is explained by the fact that all of TAG Heuer’s solar-powered movements were developed in collaboration with La Joux-Perret, the Swiss movement maker headquartered in La Chaux-de-Fonds that’s a subsidiary of Citizen, perhaps the world’s most prolific maker of advanced solar-powered watches. This calibre is exclusive to TAG Heuer is accompanied by a five-year extended warranty.

Key facts and price

TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 200 Solargraph
Ref. WBP1311.BA0005 (deep blue)
Ref. WBP1312.BA0005 (mother-of-pearl)
Ref. WBP1313.BA0005 (mother-of-pearl with diamond indices)
Ref. WBP1314.BA0005 (mother-of-pearl with diamond indices and bezel)
Ref. WBP1315.BA0005 (polar blue)

Diameter: 34 mm
Height: 9.7 mm
Material: Stainless steel
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 200 m

Movement: Cal. TH-01
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds and date
Winding: Solar-powered quartz
Power reserve: 10 months

Strap: Matching bracelet

Limited edition: No
Availability: At TAG Heuer boutiques, retailers and TAGHeuer.com starting on February 2024
Deep blue: US$2,150
Polar blue: US$2,150
Mother-of-pearl: US$2,350
Mother-of-pearl with diamond indexes: US$2,950
Mother-of-pearl with diamond indexes and bezel: US$5,000

For more information, visit TagHeuer.com.


Back to top.

You may also enjoy these.

Zenith Revives the El Primero Triple Calendar

With a latest-generation movement and "lightning" seconds.

Zenith revisits one of its signature historical models with the Chronomaster Original Triple Calendar. It is the Chronomaster Original we know and love, but with a twist: the addition of the day, month, and moon phase while maintaining the same dimensions as the chronograph-only model. Powered by the latest-generation El Primero 3610 with “lightning” seconds, the Triple Calendar makes its debut in three colourways, white, grey and a boutique-exclusive green.

Initial thoughts

Although popular among enthusiasts, the Chronomaster Original is arguably undiscovered territory for many because it has been overshadowed by Chronomaster Sport, a watch famous for resembling the Rolex Daytona. However, the Chronomaster Original offers better aesthetics and proportions compared to its slightly derivative Sports sibling. The compact 38 mm case sits comfortably on most wrists, while having enough presence to feel like a larger sports watch.

Compared to the standard Chronometer Original, the Triple Calendar adds a few complications into the mix and evokes the well known vintage original. Importantly, it is not only a vintage remake since it utilises the latest-generation El Primero movement with a “lighting” central seconds.

The Triple Calendar is, however, pricey. It costs US$13,400 on a calfskin strap and a bit more on a stainless steel bracelet. That’s about 30% more than the base model Chronomaster Original, which feels like a lot for simple-calendar functions. That said, the chronograph-and-triple-calendar combination is relatively uncommon, and the El Primero is a high-quality in-house calibre with a “lightning” seconds, which helps justify the price.

The flagship

When Zenith launched the El Primero in 1969, it was already designed to accommodate the triple calendar and moon phase. In 1970, the brand produced 25 prototypes of the El Primero triple calendar in the classic Chronomaster case. The movement eventually made it into regular production, but in other case styles and stayed in the catalogue for decades. This release is basically a remake of the 1970 prototype, rather than the later models that utilised different cases.

The new Triple Calendar is equipped with the latest-generation El Primero 3610 but has the same dial layout as the vintage original. The days of the week and month are positioned above the registers at nine and three, while the date window is in between four and five. The moon phase sits inside the sub-dial at six, with the moon disc featuring with rose gold-plated stars and moons.

The case retains the same style as the 1969 original, as well as the same 38 mm diameter. It is, however, slightly taller at 12.6 mm due to the new calibre and display back.

Inside sits the El Primero 3610, a self-winding, high frequency movement running at 36,000 beats per hour. Even with the incorporation of the triple calendar and moon phase, the movement has a relatively lengthy 60 hours of power reserve.

The high-beat balance results in a “lighting” central seconds that makes one revolution around the dial once every 10 seconds, allowing for elapsed time measurements of up to a tenth of a second. The central seconds hand moves six times faster than a conventional chronograph seconds and is read in tandem with the 1/10th of a seconds scale on the perimeter of the dial.

While the vintage El Primero movement was a product of the 1960s, the El Primero 3610 here was designed with contemporary aesthetics in mind. As a result, the movement is more decorative than the vintage original, with the bridges in particularly being skeletonised to reveal more of the moving parts. The calibre is also dressed up with blued steel screws and a rotor open-worked to form the Zenith star emblem.

Key facts and price

Zenith Chronomaster Original Triple Calendar
Ref. 03.3400.3610/38 (white)
Ref. 03.3400.3610/39 (grey)
Ref. 03.3400.3610/40 (green)

Diameter: 38 mm
Height: 12.6 mm
Material: Stainless steel
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 50 m

Movement: El Primero 3610
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, date, date, month, chronograph, and moonphase display
Frequency: 36,000 beats per hour (5 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 60 hours

Strap: Calfskin leather or stainless steel bracelet

Limited edition: No, but the green dial is available only in physical and online Zenith boutiques
Availability: At Zenith boutiques, retailers and Zenith-Watches.com starting February 2024
Price: US$13,400 (strap); US$13,900 (bracelet)

For more information, visit Zenith-Watches.com.


Back to top.

You may also enjoy these.

TAG Heuer Revisits the Carrera Dato in “Glassbox” Guise

A contemporary take on a classic chronograph.

TAG Heuer unveils its latest releases at LVMH Watch Week 2024 now taking place in Miami, starting off with Carrera Chronograph “Dato”. Taking its cues from the original “Dato” ref. 3147 of 1968, the new Carrera features the model’s trademark date window at nine but in the contemporary “Glassbox”, accentuated by a metallic, brushed green dial inspired by the British racing green livery of historical racing cars.

Initial thoughts

TAG Heuer steadily built on the success of the Carrera “Glassbox” with several vintage-inspired designs, such as the gold and black “John Player Special” and the yacht-ready Skipper. This continues with the new Carrera that retains the original “Dato” dial with its unconventional date window at nine, minutes totaliser at three, and “Swiss” seated high above six.

But like its predecessors in the “Glassbox” line, the latest “Dato” is not a vintage remake, but rather a modern watch with vintage-inspired looks. And while the green dial is in tune with current fashions, it gives the design a contemporary feel, further setting it apart from the vintage original.

Except for the dial, the “Dato” is still fundamentally a Carrera “Glassbox” and is priced correctly at US$6,550, which is US$100 more than the standard model. Like the other variants of the “Glassbox”, the Dato holds its own against competitors, thanks to its strong execution and high-quality, in-house movement, though it arguably has an edge over its siblings thanks to the distinctive dial layout.

The new “Dato” 

This new Carrera “Dato” includes the 30-minute chronograph counter at three, replacing the 45-minute counter. It gains a touch of star power through the incorporation of a teal green dial, while rhodium-plated indices and hands further enhance the overall design.

It is a fresh take on the Carrera 45 Dato ref. 3147 introduced in 1968 as a variant of the brand’s iconic racing chronograph. The “second execution” Dato was notable for having the date window at nine, which has been transplanted into the modern-day model.

The reference existed in two known variations: the ref. 3147 N, characterised by a black dial and white counter, and the silver-dial ref. 3147 S with matching sub-dial. Additional versions of this reference have emerged, including those made for drivers participating in the Indy 500 race.

An example of the Carrera ref. 3147N “Dato 45” with the Indy 500 emblem at six. Image – Phillips

Today’s Dato captures some of the vintage charm of the 1968 original while being a recognisably modern watch. Notably, it is based on the Glassbox with its distinct case profile characterise by a prominently domed sapphire crystal with a raised scale beneath. The scale echoes the curvature of the domed crystal, a nod to vintage Heuer chronographs with domed Hesalite crystals.

Additionally, the new Dato has a concentrically-brushed finish on the dial, which also sports a 30-minute counter at three, instead of the 45-minute counter on the original. And the metallic green finish contrasts against the rhodium-plated hands and indices for legibility.

The revamped Dato sticks to the dimensions the standard Glassbox, with the same diameter of 39 mm but slightly thinner at 13.86 mm. The reduction in thickness due to the modified movement that does away with several chronograph counters.

The watch features the TH20-07, a tweaked version of the TH20-00 in the standard models that does away with the constant seconds and hour counters. Changes to the layout aside, it remains identical and features a column wheel with a vertical clutch, along with bi-directional winding, and an impressive 80-hour power reserve.

Key facts and price

TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph “Dato”
Ref. CBS2211.FC6545

Diameter: 39 mm
Height: 13.86 mm
Material: Stainless steel
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: TH20-07
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date and chronograph
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 80 hours

Strap: Alligator strap with folding clasp

Limited edition: No
Availability: Now at TAG Heuer boutiques, retailers and TAGHeuer.com
Price: US$6,550

For more information, visit TAGHeuer.com.


Back to top.

You may also enjoy these.

Review: Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Sport Chronograph

An outstanding integrated chronograph movement.

Two years after the Tonda PF, a commercial hit for the previously low-key brand, Parmigiani Fleurier has diversified its lineup of sports watches with the Tonda PF Sport. Replacing the Tonda GT as the brand’s entry-level sports watch, the Tonda PF Sport has a cleaner, bolder aesthetic compared to the Tonda PF.

The Tonda PF Sport is available as either a chronograph, or a time-and-date automatic. The standout model is the Tonda PF Sport Chronograph, which is equipped with the PF070, an integrated chronograph movement with impressive features, including a high-frequency, free-sprung balance running at 36,000 beats per hour (5 Hz), double barrels, as well as the requisite column wheel and vertical clutch expected of a modern calibre – all contained in a package under 7 mm high.

Initial thoughts

My first in-person encounter with Parmigiani’s sports watch was in 2021 when the brand launched the Tonda PF amidst the integrated-bracelet-sports-watch craze during the pandemic. Countless brands were trying to replicate the success of the Royal Oak and Nautilus, so it seemed like Parmigiani was just one of many trying to do the same thing.

However, when I got an opportunity to examine the Tonda PF in person during Geneva Watch Days that year, it struck me as something different, rather than a derivative product. Even though the Tonda PF was clearly an integrated-bracelet sports watch, it was not like the others in both style and detail.

The Tonda PF Sport Chronograph is obviously a continued expansion of Parmigiani’s sports watch project; it doesn’t look much different from the Tonda PF Chronograph. Although similar to its cousin, the Tonda PF Sport is clearly a different watch.

The minimalist design has been preserved, but design tweaks like a “panda” dial and wider hands give it a bolder and more informal aesthetic. The case is also imperceptibly thicker, which adds to its more modern feel.

And as with most things luxury, it is the details that set the Tonda PF Sport apart. The dial guilloche, for instance, is done by hand on a traditional machine. And it’s fitted to a rubber strap that is not conveniently injection moulded as is common, but one padded and stitched like a leather strap.

However, in mechanical terms, the PF Sport and PF are essentially identical, both share the same integrated PF070, albeit with a different rotor. Notably, both the steel and gold versions of the PF Sport feature the PF070. This is a major upgrade as the outgoing Tonda GT it replaces contained a modular movement for the steel model, and only the gold version featured the integrated movement.

The Tonda PF Sport costs about 10% less than the Tonda PF, which might lead some to label it as an affordable alternative. However, the difference between the retail prices of the two isn’t great enough to justify this characterisation, since the PF Sport is delivered on a strap while the PF is on a bracelet as standard. And adding a bracelet to the PF Sport brings its total cost to slightly above that of the PF.

Rather than an affordable alternative, I see the Tonda PF Sport Chronograph as the sportier sibling of the Tonda PF. Both in terms of look and feel, it feels like a sportier, gently bulked up watch. Even the crown is larger on the PF Sport than the PF.

In terms of the value proposition, the Tonda PF Sport would make sense for someone who prefers a strap instead of a bracelet, and wants something sportier. Conversely, the Tonda PF Chronograph arguably gives more bang for the buck because for 10% more in the steel version, it includes a platinum bezel and matching bracelet.

Relative to the wider market, the Tonda PF Sport costs about a fifth less than the most obvious competitors, namely the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and  Vacheron Constantin Overseas. While both have more elaborate cases in terms of design and finishing – and certainly more brand recognition – the Tonda PF Sport brings with it a superior movement that boasts a sophisticated construction and excellent finishing.

The cal. PF070/6710

The biggest strength of the Tonda PF Sport is its movement, the in-house PF070/6710, which is one of the most sophisticated chronograph movements found in a luxury-sports watch The calibre is essentially identical to the PF070, with the “6710” suffix referring to the rotor. Modelled on the steering wheel of the Ferrari 250 GTO, the rotor is 22k rose gold and unique to the Tonda PF Sport.

Whereas the outgoing Tonda GT was kitted out with a modular movement, the PF070 is an integrated movement, meaning it was engineered from the ground up as a chronograph calibre. Evidently conceived to be a high-performance chronograph that draws best-in-class movements for inspiration, the PF070 is a typical chronograph movement in that it utilises a vertical clutch and column wheel, both now standard in modern calibres.

The advantages of each are well known. The vertical clutch optimises energy consumption while the chronograph is engaged, while also eliminating the seconds hand “stutter” that occasionally accompanies a laterally-coupled chronograph. And the column wheel offers a more precise and consistent pusher action for the start, stop, and reset functions.

More unusual is the fact that it is a high-frequency movement with a balance that oscillates at 5 Hz, or 36,000 beats per hour. The balance is of course free-sprung, and also secured by a full bridge, a feature particularly suited to sports watches for its stability.

All things being equal, a high-frequency balance is more stable over time, but requires additional energy to operate. Oftentimes that leads to a compromise of either a smaller balance or shorter power reserve. However, here the 5 Hz balance is complemented by double barrels that unwind in series, or one after another, a set-up that delivers sufficient and consistent torque over its running time, which is a respectable 65 hours.

Beyond timekeeping stability, the 5 Hz balance is particularly suited to a chronograph, since it allows for measurements of elapsed times of up to 1/10th of a second, a more intuitive division of time than say, 1/8th of a second. This explains the five hashmarks per second on the outermost scale of the dial, with each hashmark corresponding to 1/5th or 2/10th of a second.

The PF070 is also thin at 6.95 mm high. Most automatic chronograph movements are over 7 mm high, and most thinner chronograph calibres under 7 mm feature single barrels and lower frequency balances.

The decoration of the movement is a high-quality industrial finish akin to that found in comparable chronograph movements from Audemars Piguet and H. Moser & Cie.

Finished with a radial graining, the bridges are outlined by wide, precisely milled bevels along their edges. Because the bridges have been open-worked to reveal the wheels within, the bevelling is not only on the outer edges but the inner edges as well, which gives the movement an intricate, mechanical appearance.

But the quality of the movement is arguably more evident in the less obvious details that are equally well attended to, for instance the polished screw heads that have chamfered slots and edges, as well as the polished tops of the pins visible on the base plate. All of the wheels, including those partially hidden by the bridges, sport concentric graining, as well as the occasional chamfered inner edge.

As an aside, artisanal decoration is feasible for this calibre, but at a price. The PF361 inside the Tonda PF Split Seconds is essentially the same movement but minus the automatic winding mechanism and with the addition of a rattrapante. As a result the PF361 has a similar aesthetic and architecture, but with hand-applied decoration on all components, explaining why the split-seconds in gold is four times more expensive than the PF Sport in the same metal.

A subtle redesign

The styling of the Tonda PF Sport Chronograph continues with the aesthetic established by the Tonda PF, which was itself derived from the Tonda, a round dress watch that was part of Parmigiani’s catalogue for more than a decade. The brand successfully transformed a dress watch into a sports watch, retaining the elegance of the design while giving it the wide and flat proportions that define most luxury sports watches.

The PF Sport’s case is 12.9 mm high, making it slightly thicker than the PF that is 12.4 mm. Both are thinner than the Tonda GT Chronograph, which was 13.7 mm in steel due to the height of the modular movement. Even though the case has increased in thickness over the PF, the difference is not apparent except when comparing both in detail side by side. The 12.9 mm case still gives the PF Sport a relatively slim profile for a large-diameter sports chronograph. And with the slightly taller case, the Tonda PF Sport is appropriately fitted with a larger crown than the Tonda PF.

As with the original Tonda, the defining feature of the Tonda PF Sport Chronograph are the wide lugs. The size of the lugs are the key element in the sporty stance of the overall design. However, the lugs are purposefully kept short, which allows the case to hug the wrist, making it more wearable than the 42 mm diameter would otherwise imply. As a result, it is easily wearable for even medium-sized wrists such as mine (my wrist size is 6.5″ for reference).

The lugs are striking not just for their size, but the level of detail visible in their multi-layered form and finishing. Each lug is essentially a two-part, stepped affair with contrasting brushed and polished surfaces – a detail only visible upon close inspection – which was achieved by fabricating and finished each section individually before soldering the lugs into the case. Soldered lugs are typically associated with finely wrought dress watches with thin lugs, so it is notable that the same process was employed here to achieve a different aesthetic yet one with similar level of detail.

A notable example of the attention to detail in the design lies in the chronograph pushers that echo the tear-drop profile of the lugs, seamlessly integrating them into the case aesthetic

The second key element of the design is the knurled bezel, which is common to both the Tonda PF Sport and the Tonda PF. The execution, however, is different: the step; bezel on the PF Sport is knurled to feature 160 flutes, rather the 225 on the PF’s platinum bezel. Fewer flutes mean each is wider, which makes the bezel more prominent and accentuates the sporty nature of the design. 

The dial of the Tonda PF Sport retains the familiar styling first seen on the Tonda PF. And because the movement inside is the same, the layout is identical. However, the dial is now a “panda” – silver with matte-black registers – a combination traditionally associated with sports watches, specifically auto-racing chronographs. Although the “panda” livery is derived from the earlier Tonda GT “Panda”, the Tonda PF Sport adopts the minimalist approach of the Tonda PF, and avoids the over-designed feel of the GT.

The date window sticks to the “panda” aesthetic with a contrasting black date wheel against the silver dial. In contrast, the PF utilises a tone-on-tone date wheel that blends in. This is the only aspect of the dial that I would change. I would have preferred either a discreet silver date wheel or placing the black date display within the minute counter at six.

The hands of the Tonda PF Sport retain the javelin form of the PF, but are slightly wider and filled with luminous paint (while the PF has no lume on the dial). Interestingly, the Super-Luminova used for the hands and hour markers is also black, which is great for stylistic consistency, though the visibility of black lume isn’t great in the dark as the glow is modest at best.

The dial itself is finished with guilloche in a pattern that Parmigiani describes as “triangular nail”. It is essentially a variant of the more common hobnail pattern, but instead of a square, each “nail” is triangular in form. According to Parmigiani, the guilloche is done the traditional way with a hand-operated straight-line engine, which is an appealing bonus.

Although not obvious on its face, the grain of the engine-turned pattern contributes substantially to the overall look. The more prominent the pattern, the more old-fashioned a dial appears. Here the pattern is small enough that it appears more like a texture at a distance, which suits the modern aesthetic. Even though the guilloche offers a great deal of detail under magnification, it preserves the minimalist aesthetic of the dial at arm’s length.

The applied “PF” logo has been the emblem of the brand since its founding in 1996, but it was always applied in a less obvious manner, and only appeared on the dial with the launch of the Tonda PF three years ago

Concluding thoughts

Although an evolution of the Tonda PF at heart, the Tonda PF Sport manages to be a different, but appealing, watch when examined up close. Its slightly larger size and sportier styling give it a more modern, casual appearance than the PF.

As expected, the quality of execution is high throughout, but particularly in the movement, which is the biggest strength of the watch. The construction of the PF070 sets it apart as one of the more sophisticated chronograph calibres on the market today.

I do think a bigger price differential between this and the Tonda PF would be logical, which would also make this a more attractive value proposition. Alternatively, the PF Sport could be offered with a steel bracelet, but at a lower price than the PF – that would similarly serve to differentiate the two.

Key facts and price

Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Sport Chronograph
Ref. PFC931-1020001-400182 (stainless steel)
Ref. PFC931-2020001-400182 (pink gold)

Diameter: 42 mm
Height: 12.9 mm
Material: Stainless steel or pink gold
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: Cal. PF070/6710
Features: Hours, minutes, small seconds, date, and chronograph
Frequency: 36,000 beats per hour (5 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 65 hours

Strap: Rubberised fabric with folding clasp

Availability: At Parmigiani Fleurier boutiques and retailers
Stainless steel – US$30,000, or 46,610 Singapore dollars
Pink gold – US$49,500, or 76,830 Singapore dollars

For more, visit Parmigiani.com.

This was brought to you in partnership with Parmigiani Fleurier.


Back to top.

You may also enjoy these.

Welcome to the new Watches By SJX.

Subscribe to get the latest articles and reviews delivered to your inbox.