Tissot’s Exciting Year of 2024

Innovating into the Future While Embracing One’s Past

Tissot is entering this year on a solid footing. Last year, the Swatch Group’s entry-level luxury brand accounted for more than 51% of Swiss Watch exports in its price category. Meanwhile, its website was visited by well over 44 million unique visitors – up from 28 million the year before. The ever-popular PRX line had much to do with this. Still, Tissot’s partnerships and collaborations with athletes, artists, and sports such as MotoGP and the NBA guaranteed that the brand’s reach would generate such substantial numbers.

This position of strength has allowed the storied brand to take on the entire field of watches on two separate fronts – one being traditional watchmaking and the second being the modern evolution and interpretation of wrist-mounted tools for civilians, the smartwatch. Tissot is simultaneously focusing forward while leveraging their 171-year history.

This brings us to the two watches that have been released this year. On the traditional side, we have the mechanical and quartz PR516. Confidently moving into the future, we have the new Tissot T-Touch Sport Connect Solar line of watches. We will explore how these two watch releases speak volumes about how healthy the industry is and how the strong vision from the dedicated team at Tissot has shown us that the future in horology is very bright.

The Tissot PR516 – A Particularly Robust Foothold in the Past and the Future

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While the lineage of the PR516 can be traced back to 1956 with a three-hand timepiece with a date complication and a stunning bracelet, Tissot paid a proper tribute to the 1970 reference 50528. Doing so emphasizes the brand’s mission and value of bringing the consumer high-quality watchmaking at two different and accessible price points.

1970 PR516 Tissot Museum

The mechanical version uses a manually wound Valjoux A05.29, which harkens back to the legendary Lemania 873 in the original. With a sapphire crystal caseback, this timepiece radiates charm in all the right ways that a mechanical watch should. Modern smartwatches are disposable products where the owner never develops a lasting relationship with the device. The PR516, however, exemplifies the nurturing relationship whereby its owner winds life into the Valjoux’s beating heart, all while being able to view the movement in all of its glory. The movement’s finishing is straight to the point with clear and refined lines. Some laypeople may view this movement as “bare,” but upon closer inspection, as I got at the press event, the finishing on the A05.29 is clear and crisp. The clear view of the movement without the obstruction of an automatic winding rotor helps make this chronograph only 13.7mm thick and further cements one’s connection with the timepiece.

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The movement features a modern power reserve of over 60 hours. Its close relative, the automatic A05.231, based on the fabled workhorse Valjoux 7753, sports a healthy 68 hours, so expect something close to this. Magnetism is not a concern due to its Nivachron balance spring, and its cam/lever chronograph will prove a solid timing partner for decades to come – I know, for I have watches that use this same Valjoux design. They have never once disappointed me in twenty years.

The 41mm case is easily wearable, and the bezel, which features a tachymeter and a pulsometer, helps make the watch wear slightly smaller than it may seem on paper. This bezel, like the hands, is fully lumed as well. The quick-release bracelet allows for nearly infinite looks with its 20mm lug width.

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Coming in under $2500 Canadian, the mechanical PR516 presents an incredible value for a Swiss chronograph, but Tissot did one better regarding accessibility with their three quartz models.

The quartz models are 1mm smaller, 1.8mm thinner, and much more affordable, starting at $675 Canadian. A beautiful two-tone model also features a gold PVD finish on the inner bracelet links, bezel, and hands for only a $50 premium. And yes, Tissot did not skimp on the lume on the bezel of the quartz models. Though, understandably, the mechanical PR516 will receive the majority of the attention, these quartz models offer the same functionality, water resistance of 100m, and a sapphire crystal on the front of the watch. The spacing of the subdials is the primary visual indicator between the two types of watches, and both are extremely attractive.

1968 Henry Bradley and its Tissot PR516 Tissot Archive

With four new models, Tissot has successfully brought traditional Swiss chronographs to the consumer at highly accessible price points, but Tissot is not stopping there in 2024.

The Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar – Connecting Traditional Sensibilities with Modern Demands

Now, this is where true horology enthusiasts get excited. The last decade has seen the industry be overtaken by the potential crisis of smartwatches, making traditional watches obsolete. Those old enough to recall the quartz crisis still had their reflexive trauma-driven muscle memory intact, and panic ensued. Well, mostly.

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Years on, we see traditional watches succeed in all market segments, and a new wave of smaller microbrands has emerged, further giving the consumer additional choices. Large incumbents such as LVMH and Tissot’s own Swatch Group simply did not take these new sets of challenges lying down. They charged forward and broke through obstacles perceived to be insurmountable. As seen in my review of the Hamilton Khaki Aviation Pilot, Swatch Group responded to the challenge of the new landscape populated by many microbrands by making superior products. Tissot has taken on the likes of Apple, Samsung, and even Garmin, who makes the fantastic Fenix and Descent series of watches, in a manner that honestly surprises me as to why it has not gotten as much attention as it should.

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Tissot leaned on the T-Touch lineup’s history in leading the way to affordable timepieces that featured several complications at accessible prices. Tissot did so in a mindful manner and did not simply copy what the rest of the industry was doing. Founded in 1853, Tissot did not manage to make it to 2024 by making products that are disposable afterthoughts. The biggest issue with smartwatches is that after a maximum of four years, if used daily by someone with an active lifestyle, the smartwatch would have to be thrown out and replaced. Also, these smartwatches are not serviceable. So, when something goes wrong, you have no choice but to buy a new one or hope that your warranty will cover a replacement. At the press conference, the ease of serviceability for the battery was mentioned, and this addresses only one of the points of anxiety consumers have with smartwatches.

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Globally, consumers are rightfully concerned about their privacy. With biometrics being used in every facet of society, civilians are growing concerned about how their data will be used. Smartwatches introduce an entirely new avenue of foreboding trepidation, given that your vitals are being recorded and stored elsewhere, as are your movements. If this data is stolen in a security breach, our habitual schedules can easily be used against us – think of opportune times to rob your residence when you are at work or guaranteed to be asleep. This is where Tissot has made its line of Connected watches entirely autonomous. Users can opt to connect their watch to the Tissot app on Android, iOS, or Harmony devices without losing any core functionality as a consequence of keeping their watch phone severed from their watch.

Furthermore, smartwatches can be annoying distractions by being extensions of our phones, where screen time never truly ends. Tissot’s T-Touch Connected Sport watches minimize the reach of your phone to your wrist, making the wearing experience more peaceful, not one where the whim of the internet is free to roam on your body. These watches center on keeping you focused and productive with mindfully minimal notifications.

Using a small AMOLED screen in the bottom half of the dial, the possible distractions and many features can be called upon when needed. The watch’s features can be operated by touching the crystal on top of the screen and the buttons.

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The watch measures your heart rate through its many programmed workout profiles, and its 43mm titanium case ensures that it never gets in your way. The solar-powered movement guarantees infinite autonomy while in watch mode (given that you are outside every day for at least 20 minutes on a clear day) and three months in its sport-connected mode.

The Tissot T-Touch Connect Sport Solar watch is arguably the perfect timepiece for someone who goes straight from the office to the gym. Its Super-Luminova applied analog hands safeguard the timepiece from looking too far out of place while wearing the most formal of business attire. Its health and connected features make it the ideal companion to enter the gym without putting your expensive mechanical timepiece in a locker.

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I did not get to try out the functions of the watch at the event, but the build quality most certainly stood its ground against similarly priced Garmins, such as their luxury line of MARQ devices. Though those Garmins are gorgeous, they wear like a module on one’s wrist, not a traditional watch. Unless you are running endurance races at an elite level on unfamiliar terrain, the T-Touch Connect Solar may be the best option.

Available in six different model variations, featuring different case finishes and the option for a bracelet, the price of around $1500 bodes well for a timepiece of this quality with the feature set of a modern health-focused smartwatch.

Spec Sheet

Tissot PR516-Mechanical Specifications:

Material: 316L Stainless Steel
Diameter: 41mm
Thickness: 13.7mm
Lug Width: 20mm
Front Crystal: Sapphire with anti-reflective coating
Caseback: Sapphire
Bezel: Mineral with Super-LumiNova
Bezel Functions: Pulsometer and Tachymeter
Luminescent Paint: Super-LumiNova
Water Resistance: 100 meters
Movement: Valjoux A05.29
Power Reserve: Approximately 60 hours
Price: $1,600 Canadian

Tissot PR516-Quartz Specifications:

Material: 316L Stainless Steel
Diameter: 40mm
Thickness: 11.79mm
Lug Width: 20mm
Front Crystal: Sapphire with anti-reflective coating
Caseback: 316L Stainless Steel Bezel: Mineral with Super-LumiNova
Bezel Functions: Pulsometer and Tachymeter
Luminescent Paint: Super-LumiNova
Water Resistance: 100 meters
Movement: G10.212 Powerdrive
Price: $495

Tissot T-Touch Connect Sport Solar Specifications:

Material: Titanium, black PVD, or rose gold PVD
Diameter: 43mm
Thickness: 12.8mm
Lug Width: 23mm
Front Crystal: Sapphire and touch-sensitive
Screen: AMOLED
Bezel: Ceramic
Luminescent Paint: Super-LumiNova
Water Resistance: 50 meters
Movement: Quartz-powered, solar-recharged, Swiss Autonomous Low Power System OS “SwALPS”
Price: $1,095

Final Thoughts

The incredibly bright minds responsible for the various models at Tissot have given mass-market consumers and collectors a lot to be excited about. Collectors have expressed their interest in the modern mechanical PR516, while a friend who rarely wears a watch looked at the quartz model as a strong option for his next and only watch. Concurrently, the T-Touch model line has evolved to lead Tissot and the entire Swatch Group into the realm of smartwatches, which was once the source of much existential suspense. Though enthusiasts may look at the likes of Omega, Blancpain, Breguet, or MB&F for inspiration when it comes to horology, Tissot is laying the foundational mass-market groundwork for watches to remain relevant for decades to come with the PR and Touch models. This deserves more recognition, and I commend everyone responsible at Tissot for taking this leadership role at this price point.

Check out more Tissot reviews at The Watch Clicker here

Check out the Tissot website here

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