Unaccustomed as I am to discussing the merits of ladies’ handbags, the Louis Vuitton Alma provides a wonderful means of illustrating an opinion. The Maison began selling the handbag to the general public in 1934.
Originally inspired by the art deco movement, its strong architectural design endows the handbag with a defined structure. Even the bag’s leather Toron handles have acquired iconic status. Throughout its history, the Alma has been offered in different sizes and in a variety of materials, including the famous Monogram canvas and Monogram Vernis.
Louis Vuitton has made subtle changes to the Alma over the years, adding such details as a leather key tag, padlock and optional shoulder strap. However, while these changes have provided additional functionality, today’s Alma still bears a close resemblance to the 1934 original. And that’s my point, the best luxury products may evolve but changes shouldn’t render previous examples as obsolete. When a brand discards a former product in favour of a new revolutionary design language it may potentially disenfranchise its loyal fan base.
I suspect this was in the mind of Guy Bove, the Creative Director of TAG Heuer when he was tasked with overseeing the design of the new Aquaracer Professional 300 collection. Today, the Swiss marque has unveiled an extensive range of new models which at first glance share a strong resemblance to the former generations of the Aquaracer, however, look closely and you will discover a plethora of delightful upgrades.
The Aquaracer, first released in 2003, replaced the 2000 series. It harnessed some of the elements found on its forebears, including several sailing-themed models such as the Aquastar Regatta, Navia, Seafarer, Skipper and Regatta. Since the first generation Aquaracer was unveiled, it has received subsequent updates in 2009, 2012, 2014 and now. However, despite the brand unveiling the 5th generation of Aquaracer, making small changes along the way, the family likeness of the 2003 model has endured.
In due course, I intend to write a series of in-depth ‘hands-on’ reviews once the press samples become available. However, having seen the images of the watch prior to its launch, I have already noted some subtle enhancements to the previous specification.
Over recent years, avid TAG Heuer observers will have noticed that the brand has been upwardly mobile, positioning itself on a higher plane. In 2019, the firm celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Monaco, releasing a number of limited-edition models. Each of these latter models revealed the Maison’s remarkable attention to detail.
Last year, the company put out the bunting again, celebrating 160 years since Edouard Heuer founded his eponymous company. On this occasion TAG Heuer chose to mark this historical milestone by revisiting the Carrera family. It released a number of exquisite limited edition Carrera models, although I thought the ‘standard’ references particularly stood out. Close examination of the 42mm and 44mm models, each with its own distinct personality, revealed a heightened degree of sumptuousness. Moreover, the collection wholeheartedly embraced the many virtues of the Calibre Heuer 02 Manufacture, a highly impressive automatic movement.
The Monaco limited editions provided a foretaste of what was to come, while the advent of the Carrera unequivocally fanfares a new era for the brand.
The new Tag heuer Aquaracer Professional 300 collection is available in two case sizes, 36mm and 43mm. Initially, there are eight references, seven in steel and one in Grade 2 titanium endowed with a green dial and bezel. One of the launch models is a limited-edition, the Aquaracer Professional 300 Tribute to Ref. 844. The original Ref. 844 was introduced in 1978. This new reinterpretation of the Ref. 844 replicates some of the original details while incorporating modern-day materials. TAG Heuer is only making 844 pieces and, based on everything I have seen and heard, I suspect these will be snapped up very quickly.
As I previously mentioned, I hope to obtain a press sample later in the Summer to perform a detailed hands-on evaluation. Indeed, while the new collection has been unveiled today, it won’t appear in retailers until June 2021. Those prospective purchasers of the Tribute to Ref. 844 may wish to contact their preferred point of sale and get their name on the waiting list in order to avoid disappointment. The Aquaracer has always been a huge commercial success for the brand, hence I am sure Guy Bove was mindful of not losing the essence of the former model when designing this latest collection. Nevertheless, close examination of these new Aquaracers, reveals various changes and, in some instances, improvements. Allow me to elaborate: https://www.perfectchrono.ru/
Talking of continuous improvement, no company can afford to sit back and rest on its laurels. TAG Heuer has repeatedly shown that despite enjoying incredible success it never ceases exploring new ways in which it can enhance its products and deliver more customer delight.
Throughout this feature, the word ‘more’ is used extensively. Certainly, there is a noticeable uplift in quality, first seen with the Monaco and Carrera watches and now with this latest Aquaracer. The watches look more luxurious and, if the recent Carrera is anything go by, the recent changes should raise the Aquaracer to a new, elevated position within the horological strata.
The Tag heuer Aquaracer Professional 300 has tended to be one of the brand’s more accessible watches, save for the Formula 1 which still proves the most affordable route to TAG Heuer ownership. Therefore, based on my observations, I couldn’t help wondering about the prices of the new references. Well, as you may expect the prices have increased. However, with the 36mm version costing from €2650 and the 43mm models starting at €2850, you actually get much more watch for surprisingly little extra cost. Now, if you own an earlier Aquaracer reference don’t despair, you still own a fabulous watch. Indeed, just like those vintage examples of the Louis Vuitton Alma which lack the modern-day key tag or padlock, past Aquaracer models continue to proffer much eye-appeal and many virtues, traits familiar to legions of TAG Heuer owners around the globe.