Iíve been selling watches now for almost ten years and Tissot is a brand that Iím quite familiar with. Admittedly, there arenít many models that really thrill me, but I have to hand it to this brand for its build quality and innovation with models such as the T-Touch and Silen-T series.
However, Iíve always admired Tissotís Heritage Collection for their authentic reproductions of past models and I was seriously considering buying a 150th Anniversary Commemorative Edition a few years ago.
Pic courtesy of Tissot
Instead, however, I acquired a few vintage Omegas and Tudors along the way. Recently, I wound up getting one of these off the Ďbay and Iíve no regrets.
Itís a Lanco hand-wound from circa 1960 or later, but it does give the impression of being from the early to mid Fifties. Great watch and it satisfied my urge for an Ďold-schoolí looking watch with a sub-seconds dial.
So anyway, in recent months, I began thinking seriously about the Heritage Sovereign.
Pic courtesy of Tissot
Another great auto from Tissot. I was basically looking at something that had a vintage watch look without actually being vintage. But Iím not a real fan of Roman numerals on watches. However, this Tissot had a real 1940s Patek Philippe vibe going on and it looked much like the original watch that inspired it.
After a few weeks, I didnít think much more about it. Then I got a call from a customer who was chasing a Tissot that had appeared in the watch supplement of a local financial newspaper. I didnít know what he was talking about until I turned to my copy of this supplement and saw this picture.
Pic courtesy of Tissot
Wow! Thatís a nice watch, I thought to myself. How did I miss this one? I made the necessary call to Tissot to find out about price and availability for my customer. They had one model in stock. I ordered it for him. When it arrived a few days later, I couldnít stop looking at it. I tried it on. At 40mm, I felt it was a little large for this style of watch, IMHO, but a good size that is in keeping with the modern trend for larger watches. Besides, if it were 37mm or less, it would be too similar to most of my vintage pieces.
I had a closer look at it. The Tissot Visodate 1957 Heritage Automatic (Model No. T 019.430.16.031.01).
Iíve always been a fan of design from the 1920s through to the early Ď60s and Iíve sometimes thought that I was born about 50 years too late. This watchís overall appearance is a nice throw-back to what has recently been termed ďEisenhower ChicĒ, which covers the period from around the mid Ď50s to the early Ď60s when JFK became President of the United States. The popularity and influence of the tv series ďMad MenĒ has only added to a wide-spread interest in clothing and design from this era. But I digress.
As I was saying, I looked a little closer at this watch- Nice clean pearlescent-silver dial with applied Tissot logo in the older-style font. Shiny steel dagger-shaped hands, convex sapphire crystal and a nice little indent or ridge design to the lugs where they join the case sides. Attached to this watch was a pleasant brown leather strap with croco pattern embossed in it and a deployant clasp. Iím not a fan of deployant clasps, TBH, but thatís a minor, minor quibble.
So I spent a week or so figuring out my finances and then I placed an order. I knew it would take at least 4-6 weeks for this watch to arrive. It seems that there is quite a high demand for mechanical Tissot watches and supply can tend to be a little slow. You need to remember that The Swatch Group supplies ETA movements to all of its in-house brands, such as Longines, Rado and Hamilton so there can be a delay when it comes to fulfilment of orders world-wide.
I used to have a '60s vintage Visodate Seastar Seven.
I sold it about a year ago. In hindsight, I think it was a bad idea, but it too closely resembled my Omegas and Tudors and I had begun to find that my collection was getting repetitive. I hope its current owner is getting a lot of enjoyment out of it.
Sure enough, approx six weeks passed and no watch yet. I called Tissot. They said it was due any day now, but that there had been a running change made to the reference number of this watch because the lugs had been changed. Huh?
I got home that night and checked Tissotís website and this is what I saw.
Pic courtesy of Tissot
Looks like the case sides have been changed. Hmm. I wonder why they did that?
The reason appears to be along the lines of ďto preserve the flow of the lugs into the caseĒ or something like that. I totally understand the logic behind that, but the lug shape was one aspect of this model that really complimented the overall look of this watch. Although, this Visodate oozes so much cool that this change in design was not a deal-breaker for me.
A few days later, it arrived. And once again, I said ďWow!Ē Yes, I wish the lug design had not been changed, but the overall look and shape of the case is nothing short of fantastic.
From the thin crown to the domed crystal to shape of the hands, you can see 1950s design elements all over this watch. And yeah, the lug ridges are indeed gone.
ďSheldrake wants me to invest in something called Ďcomputersí. Fat chance! The guy thinks heís Buck Rogers. Jerk. This is 1957, not 2057. Heís gonna lose everything. Iíll stick with this compressed card-board jet fuselage outfit out of Pasadena. Now thatís the way of the future. Gonna be big. You better believe it.Ē
But itís still a nice watch. The hands are slightly faceted so that they reflect the light back at you for easy daytime readability. I say Ďdaytimeí because thereís no SuperLuminova on these hands at all. But then, itís not meant to be that kind of watch. The second hand is very long. Goes almost right to the edge of the dial and has a slight downward curve to it at the tip. The counterweight has a nice spear shape to it.
And the applied logo on the dial? Almost worth the price of admission itself. Absolutely beautiful. Tissot should have kept this style instead of the bland upper-case TISSOT font that they use. Below this is the name VISODATE in no-nonsense upper-case script and at the six oíclock end, the word Ďautomaticí. Very business-like and nicely done. Excuse the color in the photograph below. Itís not representative of what this watch dial looks like, but it does give you an idea of how clean the dial looks. Some folks would say Ďboringí when they see a dial like this. I hear it said all the time about the Jaeger-Le Coultre Master Control, the first generation Omega AquaTerra and even the Rolex DateJust. I donít think there is such a thing as a boring watch dial. Itís not up to a watch to be exciting or interesting. Itís up to the person wearing it.
Oh yeah, disregard the reflection of the kitchen light and my head in this photo, too.
Wait a second, hereís a better shot of the dial which gives a clearer
representation of its true color. Love that applied logo.
About the day-date function;
Some people arenít fans of it on a watch that has such an old-school look. But I find a day-date watch invaluable on the day after a public holiday. You know what itís like. You get a three-day weekend and you turn up to work on Tuesday, but it feels like a Thursday. Really handy when you have to go to work with a hang-over...so Iím told. And Iím a sucker for a red SUN on the date. This date wheel also has the option of a number next to each day of the week, much like many Seiko day-date watches.
As for the movement, this watch houses the ETA 2836-2 automatic calibre. Perhaps itís considered bottom of the range by some, but itís still an easy calibre for any competent watch-maker to work on. Time-keeping-wise, I havenít checked it properly, but it seems to hover around -10 to -15 seconds per day. Not a disaster, AFAIC, because I could get it regulated to a tighter tolerance if it really bugs me. Iíll give it a proper time test some day. But accuracy is not why I bought this watch. It will be worn sparingly in rotation with my other watches. Strictly business.
One thing to note about the case-back- there are no screws securing it to the case and no jewellerís tool recesses in it. This is a press-in case back, from what I can tell, and is probably the main reason for the 30m water-resistance of this watch. The closest this watch should come to water is the ice in your double scotch.
Probably the only real thing about this watch that Iím not a fan of is the folding clasp.
I love the engraving, but, given the choice, I would have preferred a simple pin buckle, so that I could lay the watch down flat like this when not in use.
But this is a minor gripe.
Despite the change in lug design, I have to say that the finish on the case is truly exceptional.
ďCary just finished filming with Hitchcock. After all Iíve done for him, this is what he gives me. An ashtray, for cryiní out loud! Probably stole it, the cheap s.o.b!Ē
Iím not sure if my photos can do it justice, but the highly polished finish really compliments and suits the watch. There are no brushed or matte surfaces on this case. As such, fingerprints will show up easier. Again, this doesn't bug me a great deal. What concerns me more is the risk of scratching the case. Sure, they can be polished out, but this watch looks so good when itís new that I donít want to wear it too often for fear of putting too many scratches into it through normal daily wear. Youíd be surprised how easy it can be to damage your watch when working in a watch store.
The case shape, when viewed from the side, is interesting. It doesnít have a straight up-and-down design to it, but instead slopes down at a slight outward angle.
Another interesting design element. Notice also the sapphire crystal.
It has a slightly convex curve to it which will assist in deflecting glancing blows to some extent. Hard to tell in this photo. Also, you can see the minimally raised edge of the crystal. I have found that most customers who chip the sapphire crystal on their watches invariably do so along the outer edge. No problem. Iíll just have to be careful. Mental Note: Donít wear Visodate into warzones. Hey, check out the crownís reflection in that caseís mirror-finish!
And speaking of the crown, hereís a close-up. Presented to you in glorious VistaVision! Notice the use of the same font for the ĎTí as they used on my vintage Seastar Seven above? As an aspiring screenwriter, I love continuity.
GRATUITOUS SHOT OF VISODATE WITH 1950s VINTAGE DRINKS TRAY
Who needs a reason to include this one? Apologies for the lousy picture of the watch, btw.
ďThe Bogarts came Ďround for a night-cap about 1 am. My God, Bogie can still put away Jack Danielís like nobody else I know. That cancer of his has got its work cut out for it. He ainít goiní down without a fight. And that Betty Bacall, wow, sheís a rock! Just the kindaí gal Bogieís gonna need in his corner in order to beat this thing.Ē
I have to say this is a dressy watch.
But it actually works very well in less formal surroundings.
Here it is in all of its 40mm glory up against my 6.5 inch wrist.
I think it will be a nice watch to wear this coming Spring/Summer. Understated in its design. Short and to-the-point in its functionality.
Hereís another badly taken photo for atmosphere.
ďThe commies just launched something called ĎSpuntickí or something like that. I heard it on the radio. Theyíre saying itís just a satellite. Sure it is. We gotta put a guy on the moon. And quick. Show these Rooshians how itís done.Ē
The Tissot Visodate is a great watch for the money. Looked at closely, you begin to wonder why a similar watch like the TAG Heuer Carrera automatic sells for over three times as much. Either the TAG is greatly over-priced or the Tissot is an absolute steal.
The look of the watch can be compared to something like J-LCís Master Control, which sells for ten times as much. However, Jaeger-LeCoultre is a watch manufacture which produces its own calibres that exceed COSC specifications and I donít think that Tissot is trying to compete with them. The Jaeger is a thinner watch, for one thing. The only real similarity shared by the two watches is in their appearance. This is something that could have been said about many watch brands throughout the Ď50s and Ď60s.
In terms of looks and build quality, the Visodate is a lot of watch for the money. A quick look on the web shows that itís a little cheaper to purchase than something like the Hamilton Jazzmaster or Viewmatic. I havenít handled the Hamiltons, but based on photos, the build quality appears similar. The same can be said for Oris with their Artelier range. A very well made watch, but even the Artelier series sells for almost double the cost of the Visodate.
Usually, a brand may cut corners when it comes to bracelet build, sturdiness and quality. When a watch is on a leather strap, however, this is no longer an issue and the Visodateís strap is calf-skin (or buffalo) with a crocodile pattern stamped into it. That suits me fine. This also helps to reduce the cost of this watch.
All in all, the Visodate represents a great value for money with a watch that is a faithful reproduction of the original design from the 1950s. The main concession to modern times (aside from the sapphire crystal and movement, perhaps) is the upgrade in size from what might have been 34mm-36mm to around 40mm with this modern version.
Make no mistake. This watch is no solid white gold Chronometer on a genuine alligator strap. Itís a nice, well-made, exceptionally well-priced dress watch designed in the spirit of a by-gone era.
If I could use some other analogy, I would say this watch is like a business suit.
Itís designed to help you look a little sharper than you may already look. Itís designed to look more expensive than it really is. And I personally think that itís designed to be a great introduction to automatic watches if all youíve ever worn is quartz. And this is something that the Tissot brand does exceptionally well. It introduces quality Swiss watchmaking to a broad audience at an affordable price.
Thatís just my 2c...but I earned it selling watches.
Thanks for reading.