Today, the TAG Heuer collection revolves around the Monaco, Autavia and Carrera. 20 or 30 years ago, it was a very different story. Back then, re-editions were considered a nice little sideline to the mainstream models, but certainly not the basis of the collection. That honor went to the 1000 and 2000 series, a range of models that, for a while at least, symbolized everything that was fine and mighty about the Swiss watchmaker. The 1000 came during a turning point for TAG Heuer (and indeed, the rest of the Swiss watchmaking community). The Quartz crisis of the 1970s had bought the European industry to its knees; with the whole world and its mother more interested in the cheap Japanese quartz watches flooding the market than they were traditional Swiss pieces, TAG Heuer needed to find a new angle, fast. It found it with the 1000, the brand’s first ever quartz diver watch. An overnight hit, the 1000 effectively reversed TAG Heuer’s fortunes and bought it back from the brink of collapse. But you can’t rely on the same thing for ever. Despite its popularity, the 1000 was always a relatively simple piece. By the early 80s, the watchmaker was in the market for something a little more complex – and something that would pull it out of the financial abyss it was in danger of falling into. It found it with the 2000, a series that aimed to build on the popularity of the 1000 Diver while extending it into quartz and automatic chronograph territory. Available in a dazzling range of models (at one point, there was even a budget-blowing $50,000 Series 2000 Chronometer floating around), and bearing some very modern features (including 200m water resistance, scratch proof sapphire crystal, a double safety clasp, a screw-in crown, and luminous indexes and hands), it was a remarkable series that served as the beating heart of the brand’s catalog for over 20 years.
While no series is completely infallible, the TAG Heuer 2000 Exclusive Chronograph Quartz featured very few straight up duds. Not all models were quite as good as others, but many have since gone on to become modern classics. So, which pieces in particular represent the very best of the series? While everyone’s got their favorites, our backing goes to these 5 top picks.
As notes, the Super 2000 was one of the first new watches to follow the TAG purchase of Heuer. By then, the 2000 series was well established, but in need of an upgrade. With the Super, TAG Heuer didn’t just create a new flagship, they created a modern day classic. The up-market pieces had a very distinct look from the rest of the series, one that tapped into the 1980s market for big watches with striking good looks. Some of the key elements to feature on the Super (and which had been lacking from previous versions) included a uni-direction rotating time-lapse bezel with six gold TAG Heuer shield logos positioned at ten-minute intervals and matching gold crown and pushers; gold bezels for all the sub dials; gold holds with luminous hour plots; and a satin finished stainless steel case. Although few would claim the Super was an understated piece, fewer still would claim it wasn’t a handsome one. The satin finish of the stainless-steel case and bracelet gave a softness and subtlety that proved the ideal background to the glossy gold hands and bezels, not to mention the flat sapphire crystal of the case. The Super would continue to form an integral part of the TAG Heuer collection until ’94, at which point it was phased out in time for the launch of the 2nd generation TAG Heuer 2000 Exclusive Chronograph Quartz Series of the following year.
Today’s Aquaracer has one watch in particular to thank for its existence: the 2000 Exclusive. An outstandingly ambitious watch, it combined state-of-the art functionality with classic aesthetics to stunning effect. Featuring scratch-resistant-sapphire crystal, a large, modern, unidirectional rotating bezel in stainless steel, water-resistance to 660 feet (200 M), a stainless steel head and bracelet with flip-lock clasp, a screw-down crown, large numerals at 12, 6 and 9 o’clock and polished hour batons at the other hours, and a new hand design, it was a handsome, hardworking model that’s since gone on to become a collector’s piece.
In 1995, TAG Heuer decided the time was ripe for an update to the 2000 series. The result was the 2nd generation series. The changes were subtle rather than radical – an understandable enough decision given the popularity of the first generation. But they were there, none the less. As notes, some of the most significant design changes included a redesign of the hour marker to feature embossed metal surrounds; the replacement of the old round bezel with a new, 12 angled bezel; an embossed ’12’ at the 12 o’clock mark; a redesign of the bezel grips to include a new high-polish finish; an update on the case design to feature a combination of brushed and polished stainless steel; the redesign of the crown guard; and an updated bracelet with polished center links. The changes weren’t revolutionary by any means, and there was still enough of a nod to the first generation to appease its fans. But they did the job, keeping the 2000 series in line with the changes that were happening elsewhere in the industry and bringing it to a new generation of fans.
As notes, a key highlight of the TAG Heuer’s range has been the success of three “hard-core’ diving watches: the Heuer/ TAG Heuer 1000m (Spirotechnique), the Heuer/ TAG Heuer Super Professional and the TAG Heuer 2000 Exclusive Chronograph Quartz. Building on the good work already achieved by the 1000m and the Super Professional, the 2000 Aquagraph was released in 2003 as a heavy-duty tool watch. Thanks to its novel rubber sealed chronograph pushers, it was the first chronograph to function as a chronograph under water – a remarkable achievement that contributed heavily to its subsequent success. But that’s not to say it was all function and no style – with its bespoke features, unique dial, and sizeable 42mm case, it was as handsome as it was useful. Despite being discontinued in 2008, it’s widely regards as one of TAG Heuer’s all-time greats, and a classic example of what made the 2000 series so popular.
2004 marked the last year TAG Heuer would make a major new update to the TAG Heuer 2000 Exclusive Chronograph Quartz series – by the next year, the series would drop the ‘2000’ name and replace it with ‘Aqauracer’. The last watch to bear the 2000 name was the 2000 Aqauracer. Available in both automatic and quartz versions, it borrowed heavily from the Aquagraph for its design. Giving the popularity and exemplary design features of the Aquagrpah, very few people complained. A masterful combination of state-of-the-art functionality and classic good looks, it proved such a classic that the brand would later use it as the foundation for the TAG Heuer Aquaracer 300m, a watch it still sells to this day.