The Oris Aquis and Tag Heuer Aquaracer are two excellent timepieces. Unfortunately, their hefty price tag makes buying an example of each almost impossible for us common folks.
It's normal to be torn between the two; they achieve a similar purpose and both have excellent quality and finish.
As you can see above, even watch forums are unable to clearly decide which watch is best. This means that the best piece for you will depend entirely upon your preferences. Let's put them head-to-head to see whether you should buy the Oris Aquis or the Tag Heuer Aquaracer!
The first reason why the Aquis and Aquaracer get compared so often is their similar dimensions. Although both watches are available in other sizes (36.5, 39.5, 41.5mm for the Aquis, 41mm for Tag), I decided to review the 43 & 43.5mm versions because they're the most popular.
You might notice that the case diameter and lug-to-lug length are basically the same for the two watches. However, the Aquis generally feels a bit bulkier & more rugged than the Aquaracer, mostly because of its chunky bracelet.
Indeed, the Oris has a hefty 24mm lug width, whereas the Tag Heuer's lug width is a small 21mm. To some collectors, the 21mm width of the Tag is a deterrent because it can look a little underwhelming for the 43mm case.
Finally, it's important to note the difference in case thickness between the two watches. On paper, the 0.25mm variation doesn't seem too important. However, the Tag feels noticeably sleeker than the Oris, making it a bit more versatile (can be passed off in a business casual outfit).
300m / 30 bar
300m / 30 bar
At this price point, sapphire glass is a given, so we need to look at other aspects of the crystal to differentiate the two watches. For instance, the Aquis is equipped with a double-domed sapphire crystal.
While this layout looks good and gives a vintage feel to the Aquis, domed sapphire crystals are notoriously reflective. To counter this problem, Oris applied anti-reflective coating to the inside of the glass.
Although the Aquaracer has a flat sapphire crystal, Tag still applies a layer of anti-reflective coating to keep the dial as legible as possible.
Since the two watches share the same crystal material and AR-coating treatment, your decision should be based on your preferred layout between domed or flat.
Water Resistance & Crown
200m of water resistance used to be the norm for dive watches, but it just doesn't cut it anymore. 300m of water resistance now seems to be the bare minimum for high-end diver's, so both the Aquis and Aquaracer are resistant to that level.
However, I think the 300m water resistance is simply a gimmick to sell more watches. I don't think many people refuse to buy 200m diver's because it isn't enough for their needs.
To achieve this level of water resistance, both watches are equipped with screw-down crowns and screw-down case backs. The Aquis' crown features a "Oris" script, while the Aquaracer's crown displays Tag's logo.
If you're strictly looking at the specs, there's no reason to prefer one bezel over the other. Indeed, both the Aquis and Aquaracer share a 60-minute unidirectional bezel with a 120-click mechanism. Also, the insert is made of ceramic on the two watches.
However, the styling of the bezel is very different and quite divisive. Whereas the Aquis sports a relatively common cogwheel bezel, the Aquaracer's equipped with a peculiar 6-notch bezel.
This distinctive bezel configuration makes the Tag Heuer's case feel more like a 44m case rather than 43mm.
There's really no best bezel shape/configuration between the two watches, it will once again be up to your personal preferences. However, it's important to note that the Tag's GMT version is available with tons of iconic bezel colors (Pepsi, Batman, etc..), whereas the Aquis only comes with monochromatic inserts.
Both watchmakers have applied lume on the hands, indices, and pip on the bezel. The two watches are applied with a Swiss Superluminova formula that's bright and durable.
Oris says that it uses the BGW9 application, which is Superluminova's second brightest lume. Although it's slightly duller than the C3 application, the BGW9 is beloved for its white-ish hue during daytime.
Tag Heuer doesn't specify which Superluminova formula they use, but the general consensus is that it's just as good as the Aquis' lume.
Tag Calibre 5
+- 12 seconds/day
+- 12 seconds per day
Hand-Winding, Hacking, Quickdate
Hand-Winding, Hacking Quickdate
Usually, the mechanical movement of high-end watches is highly scrutinized, and it often weighs a lot in a collector's buying decision.
However, the caliber isn't something that will tip the scale for someone choosing between the Oris Aquis or the Tag Heuer Aquaracer.
The reason is quite simple: the movement used in the two watches is damn-near identical. Indeed, the Aquis is equipped with the Oris 733 caliber, which is strongly based on the Sellita SW200.
Basically, the SW200 is an ETA 2824-2 clone that came to existence as a cheaper competitor to the ubiquitous ETA movement. After ETA threatened to limit the sale of its movement to the Swatch Group, the Sellita SW200 skyrocketed in popularity.
As you can see above, the two movements share the same frequency, power reserve, and accuracy. Also, both movements are offered in 4 different quality-grades. The standard version is accurate to +-12 spd, while the Chronometer grade is up to COSC standards (-4 to +6 spd).
The only real difference between the two movements is the number of jewels. Indeed, the ETA 2824-2 uses 25 jewels, whereas the Sellita SW200 uses 26 jewels.
Depending on the model and production year, your Tag's Calibre 5 may be based on the ETA 2824-2 or Sellita SW200. The best way to know which one you have is to look at the jewel count engraved on the rotor.
Sunburst or Lacquered
Case & Bracelet
Although the Oris Aquis and Tag Heuer Aquaracer are two dive watches, one is more versatile than the other.
Indeed, the Oris Aquis is very bulky, sturdy, and screams tool watch. On the other hand, the Tag Aquaracer has a sleeker design that can be passed off in a business casual outfit.
For this reason, I think you should get the Aquaracer if you're looking for a GADA watch that's as versatile as possible. Conversely, if your collection is filled with all types of watches and you're looking for something specific, then the Aquis might be a better choice.
With tastes being so subjective, I can't say that one dial is prettier than the other. However, I can say that the teak pattern on the Aquaracer's dial is a bit more unique than the Aquis' sunburst (or lacquered) dial.
I think the Tag's dial makes it a bit more noticeable and it will get a higher number of compliments, whereas the Aquis is understated, but will definitely catch the eye of other watch enthusiasts.
Another important dissimilarity between the Aquis and Aquaracer is the date display. The Oris' date display is situated at the 6 o'clock position and it really blends in with the rest of the dial.
On the other hand, the Tag's date complication is at the 3 o'clock position, and it has a cyclops lens that accentuates its presence.
The sword hands of the Tag Heuer are nothing out of the ordinary, but they allow for good legibility and a large surface to apply lume.
Conversely, the Aquis has custom hands that aren't found elsewhere on modern watches. However, the lume-applied surface is much smaller than on the Aquaracer's hands.
Finally, I think that the Tag has the best second hand of the two. Indeed, the colorful trapezoid-tipped hand has everything you need: high legibility, originality, and a cool shape.
The two watches have nicely finished stainless steel indices that are applied to the dial. If I had to choose between the two, I must say that my vote goes to the Aquis.
The "carved" shape and two-tone finish of the Aquis' indices make them stand out from other watches, and this set-up adds tons of depth to the piece.
This doesn't mean that the Tag Heuer's indices aren't beautiful, they simply don't stand out as much as the Aquis' indices.
As I mentioned earlier, the Oris Aquis generally feels bulkier/sturdier than the Tag Aquaracer, and this also goes for the case.
For instance, the Tag's case has sleek beveled crown guards that are smooth and unintrusive. Conversely, the Oris Aquis has square-cut crown guards that are screwed on the case, giving a mechanical look to the piece.
Another extremely important factor to consider is the lugs layout. The Aquaracer has pretty standard lugs, although a bit unusual in size (21mm) for a 43mm watch. In contrast, the Oris Aquis has proprietary lugs.
This means something very important: You cannot swap the bracelet on the Aquis, you're stuck with the OEM bracelet.
This isn't as bad as it sounds since the OEM bracelet is amazing, but if you love to swap straps on your watches, getting the Aquaracer is a no-brainer.
Luckily, the quality of the Aquis' OEM bracelet is astounding. Not only is it extremely comfortable, but it also has the same level of finish as much higher-tier watches.
The big chunky links give the Aquis an undeniable tool watch vibe, while also being a refreshing change from the usual Oyster or Jubilee bracelet that everybody else has.
The Tag Heuer's bracelet isn't bad by any means, but it's undoubtedly a notch below the Aquis. There are a few details that don't seem too important in surface, but they do make a difference in wearability.
For instance, the Aquis' bracelet has a machined clasp and diving extension, whereas these components are stamped for the Aquaracer. Also, the taper from the 24mm lugs to the 18mm clasp is more prominent on the Aquis.
If you're strictly looking for the best bang-for-you buck watch, I must admit that the Oris Aquis is the best option. As you can see above, the retail price of the Aquis is much lower than the Aquaracer.
For two watches with similar specs, it's a bit of a stretch for Tag Heuer to ask 450$ more than Oris. However, Tag Heuer watches notoriously lose a lot of value as soon as they're worn, so you will be able to find a good bargain on the pre-owned or grey market.
Conversely, the pre-owned Oris market is a bit less liquid because most people tend to hold on to their Aquis for a bit. For this reason, there's nothing wrong with buying a brand new Aquis if the price is right.
The two companies offer a similar 24-month complete warranty against fabrication defects. You shouldn't need this warranty because the two watchmakers are pretty reputable and usually have great quality control.
However, there have been a few complaints that Tag has issues with their crowns. Some people report stripped threads on the neck of the crown, others mention that the crown unscrews itself, etc..
I don't think that this should deter you from getting the Tag because most of these complaints came from years ago, and they seem to have gotten the problem under control now.
If brand recognition and status are important to you, the Tag Heuer Aquaracer is the best option. Indeed, Tag Heuer is a brand that's recognized by almost everyone and respected by the general population and watch enthusiasts.
On the other hand, your Oris Aquis will certainly get props from other watch collectors and it will be a conversation starter. However, the average Joe probably won't notice the Aquis or won't think too much of it.
Get the oris aquis if you:
get tag aquaracer if you:
In conclusion, the biggest difference between the Aquis and Aquaracer is the bracelet, which is much higher in quality on the Aquis, but its proprietary lugs don't allow for strap changes. Also, the Tag Heuer is the most versatile and recognizable of the two watches, whereas the Aquis can't shake away its tool watch styling.