Tag Heuer 980.023 / 180.023 / 180.123 Review

Heuer (subsequently Tag Heuer) made some amazing dive watches. This review focuses on the dive watch which was in production for nearly 20 years in different variations and is known as ‘Deep Dive’ or ‘Spirotechnique’. This is certainly not the first post about this topic and definitely not the last.

Diameter42mm
Lug to lug46mm
Lug width20mm
MaterialStainless Steel
Basic information

The watch comes either automatic or quartz, with depth rating of 1000m or 200m and under various brand names. The distinctive features of the watch are its large bezel and crown at 4’o’clock.

The most famous incarnation of the watch is the variant known as ‘Spirotechnique’. This is a watch initially produced by Tag Heuer and later produced by Auricoste for the diving equipment company La Spirotechnique. This watch was issued to Marine Nationale combat divers and the issued watches are the most sought after pieces especially if they come with provenance such as decomissioning paperwork.

The other pieces don’t share the same fame, but have other merits. The other variants come either Tag Heuer or Heuer branded. ‘Deep Dive’ variant 980.023 boasts depth rating up to 1000m. The automatic version 180.023 has depth rating of only 200m can also have the Spirotechnique logo on dial. The ‘Nightdiver’, or reference 180.123 has full tritium dial, but is otherwise the same as the 200m automatic.

Reference980.023
980.023N
980.023L
180.023
180.123
906.21.05
ManufacturerTag Heuer
Heuer
Tag Heuer
Heuer
Auricoste
MovementESA 536.121 
ETA 955.114 (N/L)
ETA-2824-A2ETA-2824-A2
Thickness12mm (L)12mm (N/L)
13mm
12mm
Various references

The Dial

The dials of the different watches are nearly identical. They differ in branding, movement and whether it was produced for La Spirotechnique or not. The Deep Dive dial has a crystal retaining ring and extra gaskets which explains the extra depth rating.

All of the dials have tritium hands and indexes and no radium or luminova variants exist. I haven’t owned or handled the Heuer variant, but I wouldn’t hesitate adding one to my collection if one showed up.

The Movement

The ref 180.023 & 180.123 automatic versions use ETA2824, which is offers no surprises either positively or negatively.

The older Heuer branded quartz versions (980.023) use ESA movement, which can be difficult to source parts for in case of movement failure. However, the newer Tage Heuer branded ETA variants are replaceable quite easily and there are no worries from the maintenance perspective.

The Case

The case has uniformly polished finish and there is no play between polished / brushed surfaces. The bezel is a dominating feature of the watch as it is both big and tall. Despite of the polished surfaces, the watch pulls off that rugged tool-watch appearance that is very popular among vintage collectors today.

In spite of the relatively modern (read large) size, the watch wears comfortably. This is due to moderate lug to lug and low 12mm profile. My personal preference is a tall case back that extends bellow lugs and the non-Heuer variants lack this feature. However, it wears exceptionally well on nearly any strap or bracelet.

The edges of the lugs aren’t particularly defined, and the case is vulnerable to extensive polish. The crown side has two distinct surfaces and over polished cases typically loose the definition here. Same applies to the lugs, which also should have two distinctive edges diving the lug. On badly polished examples the lugs are nearly round and the definition is lost.

Polished case

Finally, the various references seem to have come with different crowns. Some of the 980.023N and 980.023L seem to have a smaller Tag branded crown whereas the crowns on the automatics seem to be larger. It may also be the watches I have handled have had service or aftermarket crowns.

The Bracelet

The standard bracelet to the watch is your typical Heuer / Tag Heuer diver jubilee with hollow end links. It is a comfortable bracelet, made out of good steel and a good companion to the watch. It is relatively hard to find these bracelets or extra links to them. Collectors looking to add add the bracelet to a rogue watch-head should be prepared to spend a pretty penny and significant amount of time on auction sites.

This is not going to be a popular opinion: the bracelet is is nothing special, and similar quality jubilee bracelets can be easily acquired if one suffers from the steel bracelet fetish and does not care about the originality. The bracelet is flimsy and rattly, but not in the good Rolex five-digit way. Both the deep dive and the Nightdiver are extremely versatile on a Nato strap and not being able to find a watch on the bracelet shouldn’t force anyone to skip the watch.

Conclusion

The Tag Heuer ‘Deep Dive’ or ‘Spirotechnique’ is a watch that works well on a nato strap. It is a versatile watch with very utilitarian look. It is susceptible to excessive polishing, but its maintainability is relatively good due to aftermarket parts producers such as tag1000diver. Even the ESA quartzes can be converted to more modern movements with some difficulty. As such, it is a vintage watch that can be worn, even heavily, which cannot be said from all vintage watches.

References

TAG Heuer 980.023N Deep Dive 1000m

HEUER/ TAG HEUER 1000M & SPIROTECHNIQUE- THE ULTIMATE COLLECTOR’S GUIDE

Omega Planet Ocean cal. 2500, 42mm

Overview

Omega Planet Ocean (PO) line was introduced in 2005. The watches come in both 45mm and 42mm size and are famous for being worn by Special Agent James Bond played by Daniel Craig. In Casino Royale, Daniel Craig wore the 45mm planet ocean on rubber strap and in Quantum of Solace the 42mm 2201.50 on steel bracelet.

ManufacturerOmega
Reference2201.50
Movement2500 (ETA 2892-A2)
Diameter42mm
Thickness14,5mm
Lug to lug48mm
Lug width20mm
MaterialStainless Steel
Water Resistance600m
Basic information

The design of the PO draws from the history of the Omega Seamaster. The PO has a two part bezel found in pre-bond Seamasters and some of the earlier Omega references. The source of the bezel design is most likely Omega Seamaster 300 ref CK2913 produced in late 1950s. Another historic design choice is the curved lugs, which omega have been using since the appearance of first ST Speedmasters.

Various References

One thing worth mentioning is that the cal 2500 Planet Ocean has sharper case than the 2531.80 or 2254.50 Seamasters. While the lugs on the 2254.50 are similar, the form is considerably softer than on the Planet Ocean. This creates an impression of quality of the finish and a more modern look. I haven’t handled a modern unpolished Speedmaster myself, but it is said that modern Speedmasters have similar quality to the lugs.

It may be that all of the 2531.80s and 2254.50s that I have handled have been polished, but at this point, it would be extremely bad luck. Until otherwise proves, I’m going to assume that the edges on the older SM300 lyre lugs weren’t as sharp as on the PO lyre lugs.

Because of the many different color combinations, strap options and sizes, the following table attempts to summarise the reference numbers for 42mm Planet Oceans:

ReferenceStrapBezel colorIndex Color
2201.50BraceletBlackWhite
2901.50.91Stiched RubberBlackWhite
2901.50.81RubberBlackWhite
2201.51BraceletBlackOrange
2201.52MeshBlackOrange
2901.51.82Rubber (orange stitches)BlackOrange
2209.50BraceletOrangeOrange
2909.50.91RubberOrangeOrange
2909.50.38LeatherOrangeOrange
42mm Planet Ocean References

The sheer number of available references may make finding the right watch to purchase difficult. However, it is a good idea to extend one’s searches as deals can be had in any of the references. Unfortunately sometimes dodgy sellers downplay the size and offer 45mm references as 42mm and this creates further confusion.

Bracelet vs Strap

As outlined earlier, the PO came in at least four different strap configurations: steel bracelet, steel mesh, stitched rubber and rubber. I have had pleasure to handle the non-sticthed rubber, and it is easily one of the best rubber straps I have had. It is both comfortable, doesn’t have the groce vanilla smell, which connoisseurs of poverty-grade rubber straps claim to be characteristic of nice vulcanised rubber. The strap doesn’t cause itch even when worn extensively.

The bracelet for the cal 2500 Omegas is 1580 / 952. Unfortunately, my watch never came with bracelet, so until I can source one second hand, I’m unable to review it. I know that the bracelet came with both pins and screws. As with 2254.50, a popular modification is to add micro adjustment clasp to the bracelet. More of this including the parts numbers can be found in the 2254.50 article.

ReferenceComment
1580/952Original steel bracelet
1589/858Steel bracelet from cal 8500
98000144Rubber strap
98000364Rubber strap from cal 8500
Available bracelets for cal 2500

The 1589/858 sits slightly too thick on the watch, but many prefer it because of availability and better clasp. The incorrect size of the 858 end link is especially noticeable where lyre lug meets the end-link itself. The rubber strap 98000364 also extends slightly above the lugs, but it is barely noticeable.

In addition to the steel bracelet and the rubber straps, the cal 2500 Planet Ocean wears well on a shark mesh. This is one of my personal favourites because the mesh is light and comfortable.

Hand Winding

The hand-winding experience of the cal 2500c is very nice and smooth. Unlike the 1120 or the Rolex Calibers, you can only hear a very faint sound of turning gears when hand-winding. In many watches, I would associate this winding to the wrong direction. Once wound full, just like the 1120, the movement gives nice pleasurable clicks to tell the winder to do something more productive with their life.

2500c vs 2500d

Anyone who is looking to buy any cal 2500 Omega watch is bound to find a lot of discussion over the differences of the movement. The differences have been discussed extensively. In short, the 2500d comes with three-tier escapement as opposed to the two-tier escapement of the 2500c. It is said online that the advantage of this is that the service interval of the 2500d is longer and the 2500d movement is less subject to failure due to wear or dislocation of the part.

Conclusion

The biggest misconception regarding the Planet Ocean 42mm is that it is a big watch. This is most likely caused by its 45mm cousin, or the newer 43,5mm versions. The 42mm PO wears slightly smaller than the flatter 2254.50 despite being taller. It also wears considerably smaller than Seiko MM300, which feels like a chunk of steel strapped to your wrist. On my 16,5cm wrist, the watch feels perfectly balanced on the rubber strap.

The various PO strap options, the two different movement types and the three different bezels/dials configurations can make the purchase confusing and somewhat difficult. Beyond the various references, the watch has a lot to offer: not many watches are simultaneously conservative (2201.50), playful (2201.51) and slightly obnoxious (2209.51).