Tissot introduced the PRX Powermatic 80 integrated sports watch last year (following a quartz model) and it’s been wildly popular in the affordable sports watch market. This is clearly one of the hottest trends at the moment with models like the Bell & Ross BR05, Citizen Caliber 0200 and Frederique Constant Highlife Worldtimer Manufacture positioned as accessible alternatives to heavyweights like the Royal Oak and Nautilus. The Powermatic 80 version brought a lot to the table for only EUR 650 (hence the popularity) and now the Tissot PRX Chronograph Automatic continues the winning strategy.
A LOOK BACK AT THE 1970s
The origins of the PRX collection go back to 1978 with an integrated sports watch powered by quartz – it was the heart of the quartz crisis, after all. It wasn’t known as PRX at the time, but rather the Seastar. It was a time and date piece with a thin barrel-shaped case, substantial bezel and integrated bracelet with flat links. A handful of years later, Tissot registered the PRX name, which stands for P-Precise, R-Robust and X-10 bars of water resistance (serves as a Roman numeral in this case). Today’s models are inspired by the original from the late 1970s and bring a modern touch to a popular, classic formula.
Of course, this isn’t Tissot’s first vintage-inspired, automatic chronograph. Models like the Heritage 1973 Chronograph and Heritage 1948 Chronograph show that the brand is committed to retro chronographs that are also in high demand these days. The new PRX Chronograph Automatic stands out by combining both trends – vintage-inspired design and integrated bracelet – with an affordable series that allows watch enthusiasts without spare Mercedes money to dive right in. Integrated bracelets were all the rage in the 1970s with the legendary Royal Oak debuting in 1972 and Nautilus in 1976, and Tissot’s Seastar was in 1978 what the PRX models are today – stylish, affordable and trending.
CASE AND DESIGN
The stainless steel case is larger than the 40mm PRX Powermatic 80 at 42mm in diameter, but it’s still wearable for a modern wrist, yet the Valjoux movement adds to the height, at 14.5mm. It, fortunately, doesn’t go too far like the Tissot PRS 516 Automatic Chronograph at 45mm, which was a bit much. It features classic design elements like brushed surfaces with polished bevels and an integrated bracelet with flat links and is thoroughly modern with an AR sapphire crystal and exhibition case back. Flat, integrated pushers at 2 and 4 o’clock keep it sleek and stealthy, and water resistance is rated at 100 metres (or 10 bars, hence the X in PRX).
Going back to the bracelet, it looks like a three-link design at first glance but is a cool single link arrangement that tapers from the case to the triple-blade folding clasp. It also features an “interchangeable system” or quick-release levers. On the wrist, it should remain comfortable and wears smaller than the dimensions suggest with the absence of traditional lugs.
PANDA & REVERSE PANDA brushed DIALS
The PRX Chronograph Automatic has two vertically brushed dial options with a tri-compax layout. There’s blue with silver sub-dials and silver with black sub-dials, the latter having rose gold (coloured) hands and indices. The blue model has applied silver indices with Super-LumiNova and silver hour and minute baton hands with luminous inserts. The silver dial has the same layout (with rose gold accents). An angled date window is tucked between 4 and 5 o’clock, which is a useful feature, but an aesthetic I often dislike. It’s generally inoffensive in this case and the original Seastar did have a date complication. The sub-dials are arranged with a 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock, a 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock and small seconds at 9 o’clock. The silver dial with gold accents is the dressier of the two, but both have a rather relaxed, retro vibe that can go from the boardroom to the beach. The brand’s logo is printed in its modern sans serif and not the vintage script of a Heritage piece like the Visodate Automatic. A minute track spans the outermost perimeter and is silver on the blue dial and black on the silver dial.
A RELIABLE SWISS WORKHORSE
Powering the chronograph is the ETA A05.H31, based on the older Valjoux 7753 and seen in other Tissot models like the Heritage 1973 Chronograph. It has 27 jewels, beats at 28,800vph (4Hz) with a (recently extended) 60-hour power reserve. Functions include central hours, minutes and chronograph seconds, 30-minute counter, 12-hour counter, small seconds and date. The movement is decorated with perlage and features a custom open-worked rotor. It’s also a cam-actuated chronograph as a column wheel would’ve pushed the price a bit north.
I’m sure this pair of chronographs will be popular like the PRX Powermatic 80. It has all of the ingredients of a retro integrated sports watch with the added appeal of a tri-compax chronograph. With this style, I prefer the simplicity of time and date only like the Powermatic 80, although I’m probably in the minority here. Affordable models like the Maurice Lacroix Aikon Automatic Chronograph prove that sports watches and chronographs are like chips and salsa – a combo you can’t ignore. It’s great that Tissot is offering both panda and reversed panda options, and I like that the dials are vertically brushed a la the 1978 original. The waffle-like dial on the Powermatic 80 is very cool, but let’s be honest, Audemars Piguet was here first. The overall execution is very impressive, belying the affordable price, and Tissot just seems to do it best in this price range.
If a Royal Oak or Nautilus is out of your reach (it’s out of mine) and something like the Bell & Ross BR05 is still a bit high, the Tissot PRX Chronograph Automatic offers great value for such a cool-looking, Swiss integrated chronograph. I can find little fault. The two watches retail for EUR 1,495 excluded taxes and will be available to purchase in June 2022.
For more information, please visit Tissot’s website.