Tissot has been keeping busy so far in 2017, with a plethora of new models released including the T-Touch Expert Solar II and the crowd favorite Tissot Ballade featuring a silicone hairspring at an entry-level price. Add to these the Tissot Heritage 1948 chronograph watch, based on the brand’s chronograph models in their museum collection from (you guessed it) 1948.
Between the Clous de Paris bezel of the Ballade and the recognizably vintage-inspired Heritage, Tissot has continued releasing older generation models with a bit more contemporary flare. This is something we’ve always seen in the industry that has been noticeably more aggressive in the last couple of years in luxury brands as well as the “affordable” market. The Omega 1957 Trilogy comes to mind, as does the Breitling Super Ocean Heritage II. In the affordable realm, Undone has created an entire business model around their most popular vintage designs. Those are just a few examples among many, many others. While some complain that there aren’t enough totally new and contemporary watches coming out these days, it’s hard to deny the charm of the Tissot Heritage 1948.
The Tissot Heritage 1948’s 39.6mm wide stainless steel case is water resistant to 30m and fitted with a Hesalite crystal. This is an eyebrow-raising move for Tissot. Hesalite is perhaps most widely known for its use on the Omega Speedmaster after NASA requested a material that doesn’t shatter on impact. Being in a zero-gravity environment would cause significant problems if little glass shards were floating around. Using a plastic-ish base, Hesalite is almost impossible to break.
The downside is that it scratches more easily than sapphire, the crystal material of choice for the vast majority of luxury watches today. Essentially scratch-proof, yes, but it can shatter with a very hard impact. Tissot’s original mission back in the day was to create an industrial watch “destined for engineers, technicians, doctors, and sportsmen,” and having a shatterproof crystal was an important place to start. The Tissot Heritage 1948 gives a fair nod to that era of Tissot’s history.
Inside the watch is the ETA 2894-2 workhorse chronograph movement. This is less common than the Valjoux 7750 integrated chronograph movement and uses a chronograph module built on top of an ETA 2892-2. The automatic movement features a date window at the controversial 4:30 location – a rather contemporary move for a “heritage” watch in addition to the chronograph registers at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock. One of my favorite aspects of the watch is the harmony I perceive between the different design elements.
Looking at the dial straight on, the black seconds hand and black chronograph hands seem to flow with the black logo. The steel leaf-shaped hour and minute hands are silver in color, matching the Roman numeral 12 o’clock index and steel case against a barely off-white dial bringing a culmination of an almost minimalist, but equally uniform design. That is helped by the lack of a tachymeter, telemeter, pulsometer, or any other kind scale that can add a technical or sporty look but undeniable clutter to a watch design. Either way, that kind of addition would probably go mostly unused by owners. With the exception of the rather busy exhibition case back, the watch has a very elegant look, and that is something I find appealing for an arguably dressy chronograph.
The Tissot Heritage 1948 watch will come with three different strap and bracelet options. Alligator leather straps are available in black or brown, and there is a Milanese steel bracelet. For fans who want to take the retro look even further, I feel the bracelet provides a great option. Personally, though I would almost always opt for a bracelet, I find the black leather far more fitting in this particular case.
Overall, Tissot is definitely dipping its cup in the sea of the retro market that is so popular right now, and they are doing a good job at it. As the owner of a number of Tissot watches myself, both sporty and dressy, I find myself continuously drawn to these latest vintage-inspired releases. This includes the Ballade with technical upgrades well within the reach of affordability, and the Heritage 1948 with a significant retro swag that still manages to remain contemporary enough to wear with jeans. The Tissot Heritage 1948 is priced at $1,400 on the leather strap and $1,450 on the Milanese steel bracelet. tissotwatches.com