In my last essay, I said that I would not be adding any more watches to my small collection after getting the Orient Bambino version 4. So when my wife gave me a Tissot Chemin Des Tourelles Powermatic 80 for my birthday, I need to point out that it wasn't my fault.
[Technically, she purchased it.]
I must admit to being a tad bit angry when she handed me a birthday gift because we made a pact that the pair of shoes I purchased a week earlier was to be my official gift. But my wife, being the wonderful lady she is, wouldn't let my birthday pass without allowing me open something, hence the new watch.
[Technically, we didn't pinkie swear so she was off the hook.]
Before I dive into this mechanical timepiece, I can not help but mention that a small number of people I've come across tend to prefer one brand or another. Some like Rolex; a few will swear by Omega; I've come across someone who considers Rado to be the brand of choice; finally, I know a couple of people who love Tag Heuers.
Having a preference doesn't necessarily mean people stick to a single manufacturer. On the contrary, all of the people I mentioned patronize different brands despite holding a certain one close to their hearts.
I'm partial to Tissot myself, having fallen in love with their simple and classic designs back when I was still a bachelor. However, Tissot went through a dry spell during which their designs began to look like everybody else's, including those in lower price segments. It was at that point that I fell out of love with the brand.
To be fair, Tissot wasn't the only company that experienced a low point as majority of manufacturers underwent a period when their creativity seemed to have dried up. I can't pinpoint the exact time frame, but it may have been during the turn of the century that things got boring. The market preference for bigger faces also didn't help as several brands, Tissot included, took quite a while to bring in larger models to the Philippines
With that out of the way, let's jump to how the company started...
The company was founded by a father and son team back in 1853. Pronounced "tiˈsoʊ", their last name would be adopted for a new line of watches designed and developed in Switzerland.
Tissot is reputed to have been the first to create some of the more eclectic timepieces in the second half of the twentieth century. These include making the first ones out of plastic in 1971, stone in 1985, mother of pearl in 1987, and wood in 1988.
I understand that they came under the umbrella of the Swatch Group back in 1983 as a way to survive the quartz onslaught of the late 1970s and early 1980s. However, I was more surprised to learn that they had already merged with the Omega brand way back in 1930. Watches sold during the early days of the Tissot-Omega merger are supposed to be highly prized by collectors.
While I always imagined Tissot to be more on the elegant side, this actually is not the case. Over the decades, the brand has attached itself to various sporting activities such as basketball, cycling, fencing, ice hockey, motorcycling, skiing, soccer, and even to racing through NASCAR and Formula One.
It is positioned as mid-range brand with local prices of their quartz movement starting at about PhP 12,000. In terms of mechanical movement, the price triples with their lower models kicking in at around PhP 36,000 as of this writing.
In the Philippines, Tissot has its own stores located in places such as Mega Mall and SM City. They have a small kiosk in SM Makati and their timepieces are sold alongside other brands in the watch department of most malls.
Gold Usually Means Gold Plated
It may be helpful to note that majority of watches today use gold plated stainless steel cases. While some of you may harbor reservations about gold plating, I can't fault you for it. I remember receiving a couple of watches purchased in Hong Kong when I was growing up. Even after applying copious amounts of nail polish in an attempt to prolong their shine, they never lasted more than a few months of typical use.
The good news is that majority of the well-known watch brands use ionic plating for their models today. It is claimed that this latest process keeps yellow gold or rose gold cases in good condition for decades.
While I can not confirm if Tissot used ionic plating for my quartz watch, I am happy to note that the gold has retained its shine in the more than ten years I owned it.
For those of you still not convinced by today's gold plating, getting the real thing is the best bet at owning something that will last beyond one's lifetime. For Tissot, a mechanical watch encased in 18 karat gold will set you back at least PhP 130,000.
The only issue is while the 18 karat case can be expected to last forever, Tissot's product manual states that it will only keep spare parts for 20 years. Beyond that, you may need to replace the entire movement, sell it to someone who will use it as a source of spare parts, or find a gold dealer who would be willing to pay by the gram for it
Tissot Chemin Des Tourelles Powermatic 80
You may recall that I mentioned in past essays that I had to pass on my older Tissot watch to my wife because the size of its case is now considered to be par for the course for ladies' watches. Setting it side-by-side with her Fossil watch made it highly apparent my old Tissot was slightly smaller.
I considered replacing it with another quartz timepiece, but after getting bitten by the mechanical movement bug a while back, I felt that I had graduated from digital watches.
Knowing of my new preference, my wife decided to get the Tissot Chemin Des Tourelles Powermatic 80 for my birthday. And the model she got for me was the latest one at the time of her purchase.
The box included with the purchase of this timepiece is the best in my tiny collection. Not only is it the largest, it also includes the most paper documentation of any other watch.
Designed with the booklets in mind, the papers weren't just tossed haphazardly inside. Each of the three booklets has its own slot underneath the watch and can be extracted from the back.
In addition to being quite solid and is rather heavy, this is the only watch box I have that uses a hinge and spring, which is quite stiff, for the top cover. A small black piece of fabric used to clean the watch can be found hanging underneath the lid.
Sporting a combination of pale red and black for the exterior, it is all-white for the interior. The equally white watch pillow has sleeves sewn to its back so it slots snugly into two tiny metal stands in the center of the box. This nice touch prevents the pillow from rolling forward due to the weight of the watch face. It also keeps it from banging around when the box is moved around.
The space on the right and left sides of the box double are compartments which can be used to store the extra links removed from the bracelet after adjustment.
Finally, the box is covered with a cardboard sleeve which needs to be slid off, either to the left or right, before the lid can be opened. Since it comes off easily, care needs to be taken during transport as the box slide out if tilted too much while being carried.
Being part of the Swatch group, I understand that Tissot sources many of their movements, both quartz and mechanical, from its mother company. The one used by this particular model is designated the ETA C07.111 within the group.
Two other brands under the umbrella of the Swatch group make use of the same movement - Hamilton and Certina. In the case of Tissot and Certina, the movement is called the Powermatic 80 and is attached to the end of a model's name to differentiate it from other offerings.
For Hamilton, there is nothing to tell you about the movement, but a quick check on their website indicates that they christened it the H-10 or H-10-S. Interestingly, the Hamilton brand seems to have dibs in using this movement for skeleton and open heart watches
[I prefer the skeleton watch because it allows users to view as much of the mechanism; open heart watches just use small windows to show portions of the from mechanism.]
Interestingly, the total diameter of the mechanism is rather small; so small it doesn't fill the entire case of current gentleman’s watches. Visually, the result is that area near the bezel, specifically the band where the numbers are found, will be covered to hide the empty space.
While this may be a letdown for people hoping to see a large face of moving parts, the small size makes it ideal ideal for modern ladies’ watches as they also tend to be much larger than yesterday’s diminutive ones.
Since Tissot, Hamilton, and Certina offer ladies’ watches using exactly the same movement, it gives them the exactly the same benefits as the gentleman’s line.
While this isn't considered in-house movement, it is better than some of the competition in terms of its energy reserve. At 80 hours, it can last almost twice as long typical ones without needing to be wound.
[In the past, the ladies’ version of the same model would have a much shorter power reserve because they used a different movement designed to fit in smaller cases.]
The good news about the energy reserve is that it isn't marketing hype at all. After testing it over several weekends, I can confirm that when I set it down on Friday evening and pick it up on Monday morning, it still runs. Thanks to this ability, it has now become my defacto office watch because I don't have to bother winding it at the start of my work week.
[It provides the convenience of a quartz in a mechanical package.]
Finally, this movement is hackable like majority of Swiss watches. That basically means that the time stops when you pull out the crown allowing people to synchronize the time down to the last second with other sources.
Black and Silver instead of White and Gold
My wife chose the black face, which had just come out in time for my birthday. It was so new, I didn't see it on display the week before. To say that I am happy about her choice is an understatement because I feel that the black version looks tons better than the white one.
Generally, gold numerals will have a higher contrast against black, making them much easier to read. However, the Tissot Chemin Des Tourelles Powermatic 80 still manages to accomplish this with silver.
One way this is done is to use a semi-matte black face with highly reflective silver numbers and hands. All I have to do is tilt the face slightly so the silver catches the light.
Speaking of the numbers, this model uses a combination of Roman numerals and indices. The Roman numerals are fitted on the 12, 3, 6, and 9 o'clock positions. While the remaining numbers in between them are single bars or indices. And in keeping with the large design of the whole watch, the numerals are also large, helping to make it easy to read.
Speaking of readability, the date located at the six o'clock position is just as easy to read even if it appears small. This is accomplished by combining a simple white font with a black background.
Coming in at 42 millimeters, the case is supposed to be as large as my Timex Waterbury. However, a side-by-side comparison has the Tissot Chemin Des Tourelles Powermatic 80 being just a tad smaller.
Unlike the Timex Waterbury, the large physical size and equally large numbers and hands make it appear even bigger than it actually is. So when I first strapped it on, it felt like I had a wall clock on my wrist. It took a while before finally got used to it and the drawback is that I sometimes feel my Orient Bambino version 4 is small.
While the energy reserve is a big step forward for a watch in this price range, I actually appreciate the crystal more.
This is the clearest lens I have ever seen on any watch so far. It doesn't matter what angle or what type of light is used, the glass remains clear under every condition. It was only after reading the manual that my suspicions were confirmed - the lens has an anti-reflective coating.
In addition to this, the lens is made of sapphire crystal, which is reputed to be resistant to scratches. As far as hardness is concerned, it is reputedly as close to diamond as possible, at least as far as crystal is concerned.
However, just because it is supposedly less prone to scratches does not mean the lens is impervious to damage since the main drawback of sapphire crystal is that it is more prone to cracking.
[It's kind of like an all-or-nothing thing with glass.]
When it comes to strength, domed glass tends to be structurally better than flat glass. In the case of my Timex Waterbury and Orient Bambino version 4, the curvature of their crystals are quite prominent. So prominent that they rise notably higher than the bezels at their bases.
In the case of Tissot Chemin Des Tourelles Powermatic 80, the included manual states that it is domed glass However, I am hard-pressed to tell because it appears to be leveled with the bezel. It's only after a really close look does the glass appear to rise ever so slightly in the center.
One of the nicer trends about mechanical watches today is that they feature glass casebacks to allow people to view the rear mechanism.
While cynics may question the point of having a clear caseback when no one can see it as the watch is worn, the satisfaction is actually reserved for the wearer.
I, for one, enjoy looking at the mechanism right before strapping it on and right after removing it. And while I will agree that there isn't much to see other than the slightly ornate grooves of the flyback for this model, I still enjoy observing it swing back and forth when I tilt the timepiece.
[What can I say? It doesn't take much to make me happy.]
Another good thing about this model is that it is rated at 5 bar, which basically means it is water resistant up to 50 meters, even with a clear caseback. Most other watches I have come across, whether digital or mechanical, are rated only up to 3 bar or 30 meters.
Finally, the rear glass is also composed of sapphire crystal, like the lens. However, just because it is protected from damaged by one's skin, doesn't mean it is devoid of risk.
Tha danger comes from the metal clasp or buckle as it can hit the rear glass whenever the watch is set down. Owners need to avoid having metal come into contract with the glass.
I avoid purchasing watches with metal bracelets, favoring those with leather straps. The only exception I have made is when the metal is of the mesh-type.
The reason for my choice is that metal bracelets usually pinch the skin, especially when the links begin to separate due to the wear. As the space widens, the sharp edges begin to act like tiny pincers. I have had instances when metal bracelets have literally drawn blood forcing me to temporarily stop wearing a watch till my wounds healed.
[I eventually had to get rid of those watches.]
The good news is that the bracelet of the Tissot Chemin Des Tourelles Powermatic 80 doesn’t pinch the skin. And I’m hoping it stays that way for the duration it is in my possession.
Another good thing about this watch, is the butterfly clasp used to lock the bracelet doesn’t bite into the skin because it is relatively flat.
This is in contrast to the deployment clasp used by my skeleton watch, which digs into my small wrist to leave deep indentations at the end of the day. This lock is so bad that I avoid shaking my wrist because it has resulted in a puncture wound.
[Replacement straps from Hirsch or Asprey were more comfortable than the original strap.]
One benefit of using a metal bracelet is that is doesn't absorb perspiration. So in addition to becoming my defacto office watch, Tissot Chemin Des Tourelles Powermatic 80 has also become my go-to timepiece on hot weekends because it doesn't end up smelling like an old shoe at the end of the day.
To say that I am happy with the Tissot Chemin Des Tourelles Powermatic 80 is an understatement. There is so much to love about this watch. From the design of the face, to the clear and scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, to the comfortable bracelet; this is as good as it gets.
And while there are a lot of things to celebrate about this watch, nothing is perfect. Having said that, some may criticize the watch because it doesn’t use in-house movement. Worse is that it shares the movement with several other sister companies in the same price range.
However, the 80-hour power reserve that comes with this Swatch-sourced movement is a big upgrade over others in the market. I, for one, am quite happy to overlook this because it provides me with the convenience of never having to reset the time every Monday morning.
Practical people may complain about the rather steep price of PhP 44,000 for something that just tells time. Considering this is more expensive than a cell phone, a mid-range dSLR camera, a branded dSLR lens, and even a 40-inch television, it can be difficult to justify the expense. And that puts me in a tough quandary on whether to recommend it or not.
On one hand, ladies have a lot more flexibility when it comes to jewelry. Unlike most men, they can wear earrings, necklaces, bracelets, rings, bellybutton rings, anklets, and watches. And if one were to combine the cost of just a matching set of jewelry, it may amount to quite a bit of cash.
On the other hand, most gentlemen have only one piece of acceptable jewelry - the watch. And since all the expense and attention can be consolidated into just one thing, then getting a good watch should be seriously considered.
Mind you, it doesn't necessarily have to be an expensive watch, as what my past essays in this series have indicated. However, I strongly suggest that it be a good watch. And while the cost may be on the high side for some, the Tissot Chemin Des Tourelles Powermatic 80 certainly fits the bill of being a good watch.
After receiving this timepiece for my birthday, I decided it would be the final addition to my small collection of watches. Being spoiled with more than three days of power reserve has left me in a position where I just cannot imagine purchasing something with 35 or-40-hour power reserves anymore.
Till next time.