TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 200 Solargraph: Let There Be (Sun) Light!
by Martin Green
My dad got a new watch when I was in my very early teens, a Casio with two digital hands that told the time. But the most extraordinary part for me was that it was powered by the sun: you didn’t need to wind it or replace a battery. Like a plant, all it needed was some light.
While the Japanese manufacturers were big fans of this technology, in the Swiss Alps it never caught on. Sure, some Swiss brands have, or had, solar-powered watches in their collection, but these were generally less expensive watches. This is quite surprising because in terms of a worry-free watch, a solar-powered one is about as good as it gets. And they come with the precision of quartz but the battery doesn’t have to be replaced every three to four years.
The downside for brands is that the client has no need to return to the dealer or boutique unless it is for a new strap or water-resistance check.
In 2021 it was surprisingly Cartier, of all brands, that launched the SolarBeat, a watch based on the famous Tank Must with openings in the dial underneath the Roman numerals to collect solar power for the movement.
Earlier in 2022, TAG Heuer also “followed the sun” with the introduction of the Aquaracer Professional 200 Solargraph, one of my favorite new watches by the LVMH-owned brand introduced during Watches and Wonders 2022.
The cool factor
What makes the Aquaracer Professional 200 Solargraph so pleasing is that it offers everything we have come to expect from the Aquaracer collection and more. It comes in a stainless steel case with matte black DLC coating, which gives this diver’s watch a rugged look. TAG Heuer kept the size in check with a diameter of 40 mm, meaning that it has enough room to show its character but is not overly bulky; wearing it is a pleasure.
Some might prefer more water resistance, but 20 atm/200 meters is more than enough for recreational use. TAG Heuer even went to the trouble of creating a nicely decorated case back to compensate for the disappointment that might arise with no display back to show the movement. The display back is standard on the vast majority of watches today, and I sometimes find that a pity as it takes away part of the mystery. Here there is a different reason: there are not so many exciting things to see on a solar-powered movement.
The bezel is a treat, though. Here TAG Heuer opted for a bezel insert of forged carbon with swirls of green Super LumiNova. The show starts as soon as the lights dim, and the effect is spectacular.
Day and night legibility is something you don’t have to worry about with the Aquaracer Professional 200 Solargraph: bold hands and large markers ensure that you can read the time under nearly all conditions. To set this special version of the Aquaracer apart from its siblings, “polar blue” Super-LumiNova decorates not only the second hand, but also the minute hand, and TAG Heuer also used it on the Arabic numerals and markings of the bezel. Combined with the swirls of green Super LumiNova, it creates a sense of depth in the bezel, which is a very nice effect.
TAG Heuer did not source the movement in Japan but teamed up with movement manufacture La Joux-Perret. Caliber TH50-00 is the first of its kind and most certainly a high performer.
The photocells are hidden behind a dial typical of the Aquagraph line. When the battery is dead, 10 seconds of sunlight is enough to bring it back to life, while two minutes keep it going all day long. After 20 hours of exposure to (sun)light, it reaches its maximum power reserve of six months.
To further extend this, there is also a battery-saving mode. Just pull out the crown, and the watch stays alive for up to three and a half years with no additional charging needed.
This technology further enhances the appeal of the Aquaracer Professional 200 Solargraph, turning this TAG Heuer into a watch for worry-free enjoyment that you can just pick up, put on, and go.
Even the most die-hard mechanical watch enthusiasts can at least appreciate the appeal of that, especially since TAG Heuer went the extra mile with the DLC-coated case and enticing bezel. It makes for a welcome addition to the Aquagraph family while introducing a new generation of movement, which I expect we will hear a whole lot more about in the near future.
For more information, please visit www.tagheuer.com/us/en/timepieces/collections/tag-heuer-aquaracer/40-mm.
Quick Facts TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 200 Solargraph
Case: 40 mm, stainless steel with matte black DLC-coating, forged carbon fiber bezel insert with swirls of green Super-LumiNova
Movement: solar-powered La Joux-Perret Caliber TH50-00
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date
Strap/bracelet: black rubber with folding clasp
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