Tissot T12 Navigator, a flying saucer (AWW 46)
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Thread: Tissot T12 Navigator, a flying saucer (AWW 46)

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  1. #1
    Member Afka's Avatar
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    Sep 2011

    Tissot T12 Navigator, a flying saucer (AWW 46)

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    Name: Tissot T12 Navigator
    Movement: Tissot 788 automatic, 24h with date, 21 jewels, 18000 bph
    Dial: 24h main dial with large even hour markers, sweep seconds, date at 3, hour markers and hands are lumed, inner bezel with odd hour numbers
    Case: all stainless steel with screwed case back
    Size: 44 mm diameter without crown, 45 mm with crown, hidden lugs
    Height: 13 mm
    Text on back: [Spanish Galleon]
    Water-resistance: 12 ATM water resistant
    Crown: two signed crowns at 2 (bezel) and 4 (time and date)
    Crystal: domed mineral crystal


    Some time ago, I did 45 watch reviews under the common name AWW. In the beginning, I planned it as a weekly feature (Afka’s Weekly Watch). Then I found out, that writing a review is a hell of work. First, I gave up the weekly schedule, and later stopped at all. Now I think I try to write some more. Maybe this is a big mistake, we will see.


    Next watch from my drawers is from a renowned watch brand Tissot. Tissot has as a minimum three classical vintage true 24h models from 60’s and 70’s. All three are strongly recommended for 24h collectors.
    Two main Tissot watch model lines in these days were T-12 and PR-516. Here is a very good ad from 1969, where you can see two classical 24h models I mentioned - [E] PR-516 24-Hour Dial and [G] T-12 World-Time Navigator. Maybe someday, I try to review these two, but today we take the third one – T-12 Navigator, often called the flying saucer.

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    The obvious question is – what does T-12 mean? I was surprised, that even in special Tissot forums you cannot find a clear answer.
    T-12 stands for T(issot) 12 ATM water-resistant watch. 12 ATM are 120 meters or 400 feet. T-12 was introduced in the 50s and on several vintage Tissot ads you can see next to T-12 the explanation - “resists underwater pressures up to 12 atmos (400 feet)”.

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    Many call this watch “compressor”. Compressor was actually a brand name for certain type of water resistant patented watch cases produced.

    Quote Originally Posted by Denizen View Post
    the compressor case was a patented case design by Ervin Piquerez, a swiss casemaker (EPSA) who sold his cases to a number of different brands.
    the compressor case had a unique seal construction which ensured water resistance through pressure on the gaskets; the crowns on compressor cases were not of the screw-down type.
    Tissot does not have the real Compressor case, but similarly designed own case. The main features are the same – water resistant case with two crowns. Crown at 2 to operate the bezel, crown at 4 to set date and time. Diameter without crowns is 44 mm. Even a little bit more than original Compressor cases (were available as 36, 42 mm). This watch was very big back in the 60s!

    My wrist is 6.5 inch only (17 cm), but this case is designed so smoothly with hidden lugs, that it sits perfectly.

    My watch has (as it should be) Tissot 788 movement – automatic, 24h with date, 21 jewels, 18,000 bph. Good read is Dilemma with Tissot T12 Navigator Worldtimer movements.

    Serial number is stamped on the movement’s bridge. According to Tissot serial numbers by year the watch was made in 1969.

    Even after so many years and unknown service log the watch is precise and automatic winding is smooth and very quiet.

    It has some drawbacks too. The most annoying feature is setting date. You have to shovel it back and forth between 21:30 and 24.

    The legibility is average. My watch has dial in a good condition, but hour and minute hands are not good, lume is gone, and that makes telling the time harder.

    There are several versions of this watch. Two main types are World-Timer (bezel with cities around the world) and plain Navigator (bezel with odd hour numbers). There are several subtypes, versions of dial. Mine is plain, dial is dark grey with large angled yellow hour markers and no hour numbers at all. Some dials have hour numbers on the dial, some have hour numbers on the dial and hour markers, and dial divided into light/dark (day/night) zones. In the end of the review I added some pictures of other versions.

    Remarkable (especially for 60s), that the dials with numbers are Top-12 dials. My watch has numbers only on the bezel and I can turn bezel and make it Top12 or Top24 as I like. The date changes on top, which means it is actually a Top24 watch. I don’t know how is the date change set with other dial versions.

    My watch came with a leather strap 22mm, prepared and cut by former owner to fit to these non-standard hidden lugs (see the pictures). You can often find T12 with original stainless steel bracelet.

    T12 24h watches are quiet popular. I don’t know how many were produced 40-50 years ago, but you can see them in auctions or sales forums often.


    This watch is often called flying saucer because the case style. The watch looks indeed great, mostly because of case. From three Tissot 24h models, no doubt, this is the coolest one and looks attractive on the wrist even today. First, I was a little bit reserved after I bought the watch and flying saucer landed into the drawer. Now, after wearing it some days, because of this review, the verdict is – out from the drawer into heavy rotation list (I used to be a radio DJ long time ago).

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    Some versions more, pictures taken from different sources

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    First in this row is exactly the same as I have. I put the picture because it shows all the nice lume places.
    Middle pictures have the same dial version (with hour numbers), but different bezels.
    Rightmost appears to me perhaps the rarest version.
    Last edited by Afka; May 12th, 2015 at 16:57.
    Emre, doggbiter, a-ray and 3 others like this.
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  2. #2
    Member Emre's Avatar
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    May 2012

    Re: Tissot T12 Navigator, a flying saucer (AWW 46)

    Thank you for the write-up Afka, very nice.

    I never saw, or paid attention that there were models without the hours printed on dial, interesting.

    I had one also back in the days 12 on top version and was pretty happy with its time-keeping abilities. When I left it to my watchmaker to be serviced - he never before serviced a 24 hour dial watch,he set it up that the date was changing at 12 o'clock noon :) When I remarked he was looking closer to the dial and ahhhaa:)

    It was on bracelet and I have same size wrist like yours 6,5 inch,it was a perfect fit.

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    Glycine Heritage


  3. #3
    Member Emre's Avatar
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    May 2012

    Re: Tissot T12 Navigator, a flying saucer (AWW 46)

    That 'helmet' alike logo at the inner case-back under the digits, isn't it EPSA - Compressor logo?
    Glycine Heritage


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  5. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Phoenix, AZ

    Re: Tissot T12 Navigator, a flying saucer (AWW 46)

    I LOVE the T-12 series and thanks for the review! To me, they really capture that point where watch design was moving away from the more staid, traditional designs of the past, and anticipates some of the sublime craziness that followed through the 1970's.

    Here's an ad that features your watch: A Tissot T-12 Product Line Catalog...

    Oh, and mine say "Hi!"

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    dj898 and GUTuna like this.
    Stowa 1938 | Speedy Pro 311 | Omega SMPc | 66 Omega SM | 65 Omega Cosmic | 54 Omega SM | 72 Speedy Mark II | 69 Tissot T.12 | 70 Tissot Super T.12 | 70 Seiko 6139 | 71 Seiko Yachtman | 77 Seiko Pogue | 70s Seiko Bullhead | 69 Bulova SK | Ventus Mori | Helm Khuraburi

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Middle Earth

    Re: Tissot T12 Navigator, a flying saucer (AWW 46)

    but that's one helluva big boy on the wrist :)

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