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- Joined: Sun Jun 03, 2012 10:00 pm
People love to complain about Rolex advertising – frankly, I still can’t figure out what people are mad about in that regard, but hey, people love to throw stones at stuff they can’t afford - but even a slight glance at the Tag Heuer website is enough to make you run to Jomashop just to get the glare out of your eyes. You don’t even see watches in layer after layer of overdesigned, artsy-fartsy photography and video: Models with neckbeards (including full-grown young men wearing Mary Tyler Moore’s kitchen pants from the Dick Van Dyke Show era); emaciated female models who look utterly distraught to be wearing the watches on their wrists; cartoonish designs featuring the work of “global street artist” Alex Monopoly, who wears a bandana around his head for no apparent reason and whose “designs” look like Chic Young on acid; tie-ins with “ambassadors” including wafer-thin model and “actress” Cara Delevingne and EDM “musicians,” Porsche, on it goes.
All in all, for someone like me, it makes the brand far less interesting, and their current product line doesn’t help matters any. Tag Heuer points to its tie-ins far more than it does its products. I don’t care who else wears them. All this stuff does is add to the price of their watches. They're overpriced.
And the pricing has been far beyond ridiculous. Even 10 years ago, Tag Heuer’s Aquaracer line featured quartz models that MSRPed at $2,400. That’s insane; the watches weren’t (and aren’t) worth even half of that. Jejune quartz chronos for more than two grand all over the place. Incredible hubris; I guess someone’s gotta pay for all those actors and soccer players who appear on all those posters.
Opinion: Edox is every bit the brand (and quality) that Tag Heuer is – one spends millions on endorsers, the other doesn’t. I could care less. In short, I rarely even glance at Tag’s current product line. They feature smartwatches, the Aquaracers and Carerras, an inexpensive tourbillon; they’re all really shiny and so freakin’ overdesigned that I don’t even care about the movements inside.
However, if I see a Tag Heuer Classic 2000 series watch being offered for sale or trade? I’m all ears and eyes: That era of Tag Heuer, which started around 1995, were tough, well designed, perfectly sized divers and other models that were absolutely rock solid. I own four watches from that era, and all four of them are part of my regular rotation. Would I recommend a new Tag Heuer? No way – but if anyone asks me about watches from the 2000 (it signifies a series, not the decade) era, I always say to go for it. None of these watches has a mark on their cases, and I wear them a lot. Two of them look brand spanking new decades after they were released.
The second generation of the Tag’s 2000 series was first released in 1995, and according to the amazing Calibre 11 website (the best site devoted to a brand EVER; I refer to it all the time), it was the first time Tag, still feeling its way, had redesigned its models since 1982. Mind you – this all as before the Aquaracers and other models that later became popular. All were available in quartz and ETA autos, and they all run like tops. I have three quartz models and one auto, and every one has been an enjoyable experience.
I wasn’t even shopping for a watch about 11 years ago when I picked up a WK1110 “Professional” pre-owned at my local Tourneau, and it was perfect for me: 37mm, screw down crown, quartz but a good movement with an end-of-life indicator, black dial, Mercedes hands, sapphire, Super Luminova, and it only cost a few hundred bucks, and it looked like new.
A few months later, I returned to Tourneau and picked up a pre-owned Formula 1, 42mm with many of the same attributes. The blue dial hooked me and it was only about 400 bucks.
Later, I grabbed at another Classic 2000 diver on a fluke – a website was carrying it and only asking for about $175 for it, and I went for it. I can’t even remember the name of the pre-owned website where I found this. I had it inspected and it was 100 percent legit. This model is a bit smaller (around 35mm) with a silver dial, and this one has always gotten a lot of time as I worked in various office, and you can bang it around with confidence that it won't scuff all that much.
The best of the bunch is the automatic pre-Aquaracer WK 2117-1 from 1998, purchased at Bernard Watch about nine years ago I guess. I continue to find this watch online selling for anywhere up to $1,000 more than I paid for it (I’m not kidding here). In mint condition when I received it, it features a rich blue dial and a movement which would later be dubbed the “Calibre 5” but in reality is an ETA 2824. It’s 42mm and it’s just Spiff City – it looks new, and I like it far more than the current Aquaracer designs. An equivalent new model of this watch MSRPs for about 2,200 smackers. I paid less than half of that for this.
In short: These semi-vintage TH pieces are rock solid, durable, and have nothing at all to do with athlete or waif model endorsers or glorified graffiti artists. Designed and built in a different era, they’re as well built as any watches in my collection. If one pops up, consider it. They’re worth owning, and can be had for a fraction of the prices that TH is asking for their heavily advertised, overly hyped current wares.