The Link is actually one of TAG Heuer’s most redesigned modern-era watches, with a host of models that have existed in the collection’s history starting in 1987. That means that, for 2017, the TAG Heuer Link collection turns 30 years old, and on this occasion, TAG Heuer offers a brand new design for both men and women. This is the TAG Heuer Link Calibre 5 collection for men (release covered here), which debuts the new TAG Heuer Link case, dial, and bracelet. A women’s collection in a 36mm-wide case also exists, with quartz movements.
My first TAG Heuer timepiece was a Link, but it had a very different look than these new 2017 models. The TAG Heuer Link was always meant to be a watch that combined the appeal of both a dress and sports watch – but it does feel as though for 2017 these watches are a bit more on the dress-watch side. With that said, if you consider the TAG Heuer Link a dress watch, at least it isn’t a boring one. The new interpretation of the Link’s “S-link” bracelet is decidedly dressier, and the dial is more simple, with an ultra-legible set of aggressive-looking hands and hour markers.
I honestly believe that the Link bracelet is one of the chief reasons for Tag Heuers success during the 1980s and that allowed them to become a world player in the high end watch world.Of course, more recently watch collecting is now a worldwide phenomenon with many of the high end manufacturers getting house-hold names. The design was so strong it redefined the brand only as it needed it.This strength in personality has enabled the Link bracelet to remain in the catalog ever since. Subtly refined over the decades it still keeps the glorious design that help elevate Tag Heuer into a top five brand world wide.Many watch manufacturers possess a flagship timepiece. Tag Heuer’s is possibly the Monaco. From what I have learnt from my years of reading watch books and trawling the internet for advice on horology the Monaco does seem to be the most appreciated model. But what’s the immediately most famous Tag Heuer model? I would argue that it is the Link. The rationale being that glorious bracelet.It was originally unveiled in 1987 adorning a brand new version: The S/El, which stood for Sports Elegance. This was no misplaced publicity. The watch could easily be a sports opinion, along with casual apparel, and a dress watch, alongside formal apparel.
2017 sees three silver-plated dial color versions of the TAG Heuer Link Calibre 5 which are silver, blue, or a dark gray (black) color. The case is all steel and 41mm wide, with a sort of cushion-style look which is integrated into the tapering Link bracelet. The case/bracelet integration makes for a cohesive look similar in concept to the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak or Patek Philippe Nautilus, which is one good reason such designs have endured for so long.
One design element which very much defines the 2017 TAG Heuer Link models is case polishing. Many of the Link watches I remember have all brushed/satin polished cases, whereas the 2017 collection has contrasting polished and brushed surfaces. This is most apparent in the bracelet, which with this new amount of polish offers a lot of shine compared to more matte-finished TAG Heuer Link bracelets of a while ago. Interestingly enough, TAG Heuer makes some other watches with Link-style bracelets in both the Carrera and Formula 1 collections (most notably the Senna watches – as Ayrton Senna wore a Link watch in the early 1990s).
It is my opinion that it will take people a little while for the new generation TAG Heuer Link watch to grow on them. This is a very different type of TAG Heuer Link in terms of looks and personality. It is very rare that you have such a distinctive and bold-looking bracelet matched with a case and dial which are by comparison a bit more simple. With that said, I don’t think this is a bad thing, as we could use more interesting bracelets which call attention to themselves. One good thing is that it appears TAG Heuer has engineered the bracelet to be a bit easier to adjust. Some older generation TAG Heuer Link bracelets were incredibly complicated to adjust for size. Look at the rear of the bracelet and you’ll see small pushers that are used to remove the links. The bracelet also has a nicely made and substantial-feeling butterfly-style deployant clasp.
The polished elements of the bracelet links are on the sides or edges, while the surfaces are brushed. This makes for a very attention-grabbing but also masculine look. I do believe that this allows the TAG Heuer Link to be among the few watches out there which can be a true “men’s jewelry” piece. The case echoes the look of the bracelet to a degree as the flat bezel is brushed with a chamfered polished side. The case and bracelet integration is well-done and is another part of the new look of the 2017 TAG Heuer Link family.
Inside the TAG Heuer Link for 2017 is a TAG Heuer Calibre 5 three-hand automatic mechanical movement, which is a base Swiss Sellita SW200. This is very similar to an ETA 2824 and operates at 4Hz with about two days of power reserve. You can see the movement through the sapphire crystal on the rear of the case. Unfortunately, the movement is more or less totally un-decorated, so the view through the back of the case for seasoned watch lovers leaves a bit to be desired.
The case is water resistant to 100 meters, and over the dial is a flat, AR-coated sapphire crystal. With all the curves of the case, I sort of wonder what the TAG Heuer Link would look like with a slightly domed sapphire crystal. The dial’s hour markers and hands are very well-proportioned with the latter being extremely well-sized (which I always highly appreciate). While most dress watches are a bit more subdued and discreet, the dial of the TAG Heuer Link is filled with large-sized elements ranging from the hands and the hour markers to the text and TAG Heuer logo itself. This is the most “larger than life” TAG Heuer Link I’ve ever seen.
Small details throughout the entire design help round out a sense of refinement, even if the combination of case design, dial, and bracelet don’t work for everyone. As I mentioned, I like the bracelet design, complicated polishing, and even things like the slightly tapering crown and crown guards. This is a macho dress watch for a new generation of mechanical watch wearers, and they aren’t priced too bad given the generous level of detail. The 2017 TAG Heuer Link models include the reference WBC2111.BA0603 (silver-plated dial), WBC2110.BA0603 (black dial), and WBC2112.BA0603 (blue sunray dial). Price for each is $2,900. tagheuer.com