Tissot is one of those watch brands with a strong and rich history, and they aren’t afraid of digging up the past, especially when that past is full of undiscovered and forgotten treasure. Their Heritage range of watches caters to the collectors’ market, offering us newbies a chance at some incredible watches from the past for not a lot of money.
The latest addition is the Tissot Heritage Telemeter 1938, which takes you back to, yep, you guessed it, 1938. The styling is directly influenced by the chronograph from that year, featuring a telemeter around the periphery of the dial, and a sailed tachymeter in the centre. There are many watches with this design feature from the era, and Omega recently launched a Speedmaster with a similar look.
What really caught my eye was that a) I’m a big fan of Tissot, because I think they truly straddle the best of both worlds (for me at least – value for money and legitimate watchmaking history), b) I am a sucker for chronographs, and c) I love this sort of vintage styling. Knowing that Tissot’s pricing will be more than reasonable, I was intrigued.
The sizing, given it’s now 2022, is more modern and commercial. By that I mean a case dimension of 42mm in diameter and 15mm in height. No lug-to-lug was given but going off the look of the watch it would be around about the 48mm mark. Biggish, but still manageable.
There will be nay-sayers who feel that vintage looking watches like this should stick to vintage watch dimensions, but remember, Tissot is a volume brand and I don’t think they’ll shift many of these at 37-38mm in diameter. You also need to keep in mind what’s powering the watch, and that is not a small movement by any stretch.
Said movement is the Valjoux A05.231, based on the trusty 7750, in a bi-compax layout and na date. It has an upgraded anti-magnetic hairspring and longer power reserve of 68 hours. It comes from the same family as the one powering the PRX chronograph, another recent hit from Tissot based on a watch from the late 70s. It is a great movement, solid and reliable, and the same movement is used in many watches much higher up in the price bracket, and you know if it’s good enough for them… (I won’t name the brands but if you have to…. Google is your friend).
Now the only gripe I have (and it’s a small one given I’m sure the pricing played a part of it) is that I wish they’d released it as a manual-winding mono-pusher chronograph, bringing it closer the vintage version as pictured. This movement configuration does exist but it’s from Sellita (which funnily enough also base their movement on the Valjoux 7750) and I’m just not entirely sure whether ETA has this particular configuration already made. It’s probably not too difficult to produce, but that will definitely add to the cost. If that cost can easily be amortised over Tissot/Longines/Certina/Mido/Rado… etc. I might even be willing to pay a bit more for this. And given it’ll be manual, the case height would be reduced by around 1.5mm, making it far more wearable.
The Telemeter 1938 will form part of the regular collection (music to my ears!) meaning availability won’t be too much of an issue. However, I think with many of the more historical-type pieces from Tissot, the demand may be a bit more limited compared to the likes of the PRX. As such, if you’re patient, you could pick one up at a good price.
This is a very quick first look, and we will endeavour to bring you an on the wrist review as quickly as we can get our hands on a sample. The price is 1950CHF, which converted to AUD, should be around about the low $3k mark including GST. This is a great price for those who love the vintage look, but don’t want to suffer the vintage sizing or reliability.
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