Welcome to Dialed In, where we’ll highlight the very best, most interesting, and coolest new watches in the world.
The watch: the Tag Heuer Aquaracer, sandblasted by Bamford Watch Department
The single best thing about this watch: Tag Heuer’s Aquaracer model, originally released in 2004, gets a spiffy makeover from the watch world’s favorite customizer, Bamford Watch Department. Bamford has been around since 2004, and it pioneered buying new stock watches only to completely retool them. In the beginning, that often meant giving the pieces a black coating. To some watch collectors, it’s a faux pas to customize pieces the way Bamford does. Tag Heuer’s out to silence those critics. In 2017, the brand partnered with Bamford to make the company its official customizer so customizations could be done before watches hit the aftermarket.
The backstory: For starters, this is a handsome watch. Color has played a major role in the major new watch releases this year—whether that’s Grand Seiko’s forest-green Toge or Rolex’s sleeve of candy-colored Oyster Perpetuals—and this new Aquaracer rides that wave just enough. There are orange accents on the arrow on the bezel, all along the outer edge of the dial, and on all the hands. Look closely at the seconds hands, too, for a candy corn-esque striping effect.
This piece matters in the world of watches because: Like lots of brands, Tag has decided to listen to the youth. In June of this year, its parent company LVMH installed Frédéric Arnault, all of 25 years old, as Tag Heuer’s new CEO. Frédéric’s father owns LVMH, while his older brothers Alexandre and Antoine run Rimowa and Berluti, respectively. If Frédéric was brought on to invigorate Tag Heuer with some youthful energy, the strategy is working. You don’t need to look further than the two watches Tag’s released with Bamford this year to see what he’s up to. The “coffee-dial” Carrera was a much more subdued update of an elegant classic, released before Arnault took the helm; the new Aquaracer, meanwhile, is sporty and colorful—a piece made for the current collector, who most likely prizes sport watches over all.
You said something about sandblasting earlier? This Aquaracer’s titanium case and bracelet has been sandblasted, a process that is exactly what it sounds like. In this video, Raven Watches founder Steve Laughlin explains that the process goes basically like this: you put the watch in a tank and literally blast it with sand. (The brainstorming session to come up with that name couldn’t have been long.)
Pinch in on images of the Aquaracer and you’ll find that the technique does give the watch’s exterior a slightly twinkly effect. While those orange accents catch the eye, the sandblasting effect might be the true star here.
Where and when to buy it: The watch, which is limited to just 1,500 pieces, is available to buy for $3,900 at Tag Heuer’s website now.