Tissot’s Heritage collection is full of classic throwbacks. Drawing upon a heritage that spans over 165 years, suffice it to say that the Le Locle-based watchmaker knows exactly what it’s doing when it comes to creating retro-inspired timepieces that nod to a bygone era. Towards the end of last year, MONOCHROME covered the Tissot Heritage Visodate Automatic, a value-for-money 1950s dress watch, and a little before that, the vintage-looking Tissot Heritage Petite Seconde watch based on a former model from 1943. This time around, we look at something even older, slightly unusual and from an era rarely covered by vintage-inspired watches, the Tissot Heritage Porto Mechanical, an elegant and fairly-priced tonneau-shaped design influenced by the Art Nouveau period.
Firstly, the Tissot Heritage Porto watch comes in a mechanical version crafted from either steel or 18k rose gold, or a steel quartz version with a simpler dial that foregoes the small seconds sub-dial – a feature that is somewhat of a focal point on the domed dial of the hand-wound version. For this article, we’re going to look at the steel Tissot Heritage Porto Mechanical watch, a piece that will please amateurs of elegant, slightly different watches with, once again, superb value for the money.
the Tissot Heritage Porto, Inspired by early 20th-century watches
The Tissot Heritage Porto was originally developed in 2001 but that too borrowed design cues from an earlier vintage model from the brand’s archives – a 1910 timepiece designed with a tonneau-shaped case. The limited-edition and specially-engraved 2001 Tissot Heritage Porto watch, which launched in honour of this vintage timepiece, paid reference to the city crowned in 2001 as the European Capital of Culture. The annual event, which was founded in 1985, sees the European Union designate one city per year to organise a series of events surrounding culture, art and music over a 12-month period. Porto, famous for its production of fine port wine, is Portugal’s second-largest city. The 2001 Tissot Heritage Porto watch, boasting a unique barrel-shaped case, represented the city’s famous Dom Luís bridge – a double-deck metal arch bridge that stretches over the River Douro from the city of Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia.
In this new iteration, the Tissot Heritage Porto Mechanical watch retains the same curved, gentle lines of the Porto’s tonneau-shaped case but with modifications that enhance comfort on the wrist. Articulated thread attachment points, located at the top and bottom of the case, have been borrowed from its predecessor albeit refined even further to shape to the contours of the wrist more ergonomically. The case measure 42.45mm in height and only 31.10mm in width. Still, these proportions are sufficient to create a strong visual impact without compromising on comfort and on the desired vintage feeling of this Heritage piece.
The white opaline dial of the Tissot Heritage Porto Mechanical watch offsets a black Arabic numeral hour track and features a small seconds sub-dial at 6 o’clock, with a railroad track, itself nestled inside a decorative element that recalls the shape of the watch. The dial is clearly the most surprising element of this watch. The large stylised Arabic numerals, the slightly recessed sub-dial and the blackened pear-shaped hands are all full of a certain outdated charm that give this watch a distinctive personality. The whole dial is nicely executed and well-defined.
The Tissot Heritage Porto Mechanical is protected by a domed scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, which is equipped with anti-reflective treatment to assist with a clear view of the hands and hour markers. The solid back, which conceals a hand-wound movement, is also domed to meld to the shape of the wrist. The watch is rated for 30-metre water-resistance, but considering its dressy vocation, this isn’t problematic.
Collectors with a strong preference for vintage pieces will certainly go for this version with hand-wound movement, this calibre being one of the most appealing features of the Tissot Heritage Porto Mechanical. Slim and robust in design, the compact movement sits inside the watch’s tonneau-shaped case, enabling it to slip under the cuff of a shirt quite easily.
The Peseux-ETA 7001 Calibre
As mentioned, inside the Tissot Heritage Porto Mechanical is the ETA 7001 Calibre, also known as the Peseux movement, which has a bit of an interesting story to tell. Tracing its roots back to 1971, Peseux developed the 7001 Calibre before it became part of the ETA conglomerate in 1985 – and later, part of Swatch Group. Before this point, Peseux was an independent ébauche maker synonymous with crafting reliable hand-winding movements.
While in-house produced mechanical calibres are often favoured for the exclusivity of their components and their proprietary designs, ETA movements are remarkably reliable, solidly built and easy to maintain. One common misconception is that ETA hand-wound movements are mostly used by microbrands, when in fact, they have been utilised by well-established watch brands for many years, including Tissot. Behind the reputation of the ETA movement are names such as Valjoux, Unitas and, of course, Peseux.
Back to the Peseux/ETA calibre 7001, which was impressively thin for its time – at 2.50mm. Its slimness explains its success in powering dozens of Swiss or German watches. Its small diameter came during a time within the industry when oversized watches were not the norm, hence fitting into smaller portioned watches perfectly with its 23.30mm diameter. Despite its unimposing dimensions, the ETA 7001 calibre is robust and compact, enabling it to fit into mechanical watches developed by the likes of Omega, Nomos, Maurice Lacroix and Blancpain, to name just a few. Style-wise, the vintage look of the Tissot Heritage Porto Mechanical watch fits over the ETA/Peseux 7001 calibre like a glove to a hand. With 17 jewels and an Incabloc shock system, it delivers 42 hours of power reserve and beats at 3Hz. It’s a simple engine but makes complete sense in the context of this Heritage Porto.
Availability & price
The Tissot Heritage Porto Mechanical watch is worn on a black embossed cow leather strap with an alligator imitation design. Its Tissot-engraved triple-blade folding steel clasp is accompanied with push buttons for easy-release. It is priced at EUR 990 and is available from retailers and from Tissot’s online boutique.