Tissot is a brand that hardly needs any introduction. They’ve existed for 160 years and are available globally. They have large ad campaigns, famous brand ambassadors and just about everything else you’d expect from a large watch brand. And large they truly are, as they are part of the mega Swatch group. But despite their scale, their heritage and their Swiss Made credentials, they manage to keep prices in the accessible range. And not just for their most basic line, but for some very interesting mechanical watches including chronographs, COSC grade movements and today’s topic, an 80-hour power reserve.
Amongst the newest of their line are a few series of watches that wear the moniker “Powermatic 80” on their dial, which indicates the presence of an 80-hour power reserve movement, specifically the new and exclusive ETA C07.111. I’ll get into it in more detail later, but for those who are new to affordable mechanical movements, an 80-hour power reserve is a remarkable and novel feature for Tissot to include in their watches. Typical movements from ETA, Selitta, Miyota, Seiko, etc… have power reserves in the ballpark of 40 hours, as do many high-end in house calibers from luxury brands. There are also brands out there with much larger power reserves, such as IWC who have a 7-day reserve, Panerai who have an 8-day and Vacheron Constantin who have a whopping 14-day movement. And you can imagine the prices of those watches.
Now, Tissot has watches under $1,000 dollars with double the power reserve of the typical sub $5,000 watch. And while that is fascinating to us watch enthusiasts, it’s a bit strange as a feature for a mass-market watch. Why? Well, first off most average consumers, who don’t read nerdy watch blogs, wont know that 80 hours is special. Without a very well informed sales person, they wont understand that in order to achieve more power reserve the movement needs to have a slew of changes that, in the case of the C07, amount to greater efficiency. Secondly, it’s a very pragmatic feature with no visual component. There are no buttons to push, no hands to watch move, no bells or whistles, just a longer lasting movement. In other words, it’s hard to show off. As Tissot says in their own newsletter, you can take it off on Friday and it will still work on Monday, implying that this your formal office-watch. While that is a smart sales point, is it enough?
So, clearly watches with this movement must also succeed aesthetically, and if the look of the new Luxury line is any indicator of the direction that Tissot will be taking, then I think they will do just fine. Modern, sleek and refined are all words that come to mind when you first see the new steel dial Luxury Automatic on a bracelet. It’s a monochromatic dress watch with subtle but eye-catching details and a few surprises that make it really standout. The Luxury Automatic goes for $895 ($850 on a leather strap) making it a great value for a Swiss Made watch with an 80-hour movement; so let’s take a closer look.
Case: Stainless Steel
Movement: ETA C07.111 (Powermatic 80)
Dial: Silver / Steel
Water Res.: 50m
Dimensions: 41 x 48mm
Thickness: 9.75 mm
Lug Width: 22 mm
Crown: 6 x 2.75 mm
The Luxury Automatic has an exceptionally interesting case design that isn’t quite like anything I’ve seen before. It’s all stainless steel and measures 41 x 48 x 9.75mm, making it on the large size for a dress watch in terms of diameter, but still quite thin. From the top, the case has a simple design with a thin polished bezel encircling the dial and short, but appropriate angular lugs that give the watch a touch of masculinity. Immediately, the finishing stands out. The bezel has a clean polish, and the top surface of the lugs are brushed. The outer edge of the lugs have a slight chamfer, which is then polished, and the sides of the lugs are brushed again. The polished edge adds a hint of controlled glimmer that speaks to the Luxury name and ties the lugs and bezel together.
Running along the side of the case is a very unique detail in the form of a textured metal surface. The steel, which has a satin sheen, has been stamped to create a woven pattern. I’ve never seen a case with a texture like this, and I have to say it’s a clever way to make the sides of the case more interesting, giving the overall design a complete feeling. You can tell the case also has a more complicated construction to it than normal. The bezel and case back flare out ever so slightly past the side, which is an applied piece, and the lugs appear to be attached in yet a different manner.
On the right side at 3 is a small push-pull crown that measures about 6 x 2.75mm. It’s textured along the side making it easy to grasp for turning, though the thinness makes it a bit difficult to pullout to set the time. On the flat side is a polished “T” in an etched matte area, which is well executed. Flipping the watch over you can take a look at the display case back, which is primarily polished steel. Along the steel are various details presented in a straightforward manner. Naturally, the highlight here is the movement, which can be seen through the large aperture.
All-in-all the case alone, between the quality finishing, texturing and build, makes the watch a worthwhile design. Its unique use of pattern mixed with finishing gives it an elegance befitting of a dress watch, while also making it engrossing enough to be worn regularly. The watch also features a sapphire crystal, which is to be expected at this price, but it happens to also be very anti-reflective, which is good to see (or not see, as the case might be).
The dial of the Luxury Automatic isn’t printed so much as built. It’s a series of metal plates, faces and markers that come together to create a dial with a lot of depth and texture. It’s a bit tricky to describe, but it appears that the main face of the dial is matte silver with a slightly blasted finish. On top of this is a flat ring with a darker steel color that has radial brushing. The outer edge of the ring has a long chamfer that creates a second surface on the ring that reflects light differently.
Penetrating the ring from the outer edge is a series of steel markers that represent the hour index. Each marker then has a chamfer on the side closer to the edge with a similar effect as the chamfer on the ring. Then, on the very outer edge is a printed index of small black lines for the minutes and “Swiss Made” in small letters. At 3, just inside of the ring, is a framed date window with black text on white that integrates well into the dial. Lastly, there is a bit of text in the center area, which is printed in black.
The hands of the Luxury are simple polished steel sticks with a slight taper. What I really like about this dial is that it’s monochromatic and utilizes texture and reflection to be readable and create a unique look. Every angle of the dial is slightly different, reflecting colors and objects from the room. The hands are legible, because in being fully polished they appear darker and contrast the matte surface below.
The depth and structure of the applied dial elements give it an overall architectural aesthetic that is refined and masculine as well as having a sense of maturity. This isn’t a watch that is meant to be fun a playful, so much as serious and respectable, which is something I can admire in a dress watch. As a complete package, the dial and case are clearly meant for each other, with aesthetics that are truly complimentary. The finishing and texturing of the case is echoed in the layer of the dial.
As we’ve made plainly clear, the real standout feature of this watch is the new Powermatic 80 or ETA C07.111 movement within, though the case and dial are very successful on their own. Typically, when you have a watch with above average power reserve the additional lifespan is thanks to multiple barrels, which are the containers of mainsprings. For example, the Vacheron Constantin 14-Day Tourbillon has 4 barrels that are used to store the 250 hours of potential energy. However, this is not the case with the C07. Rather it obtains its additional reserves through efficiency.
The C07 is in fact a heavily modified ETA 2824-2 movement, which we are all very familiar with. And like the 2824-2 it’s a hand-winding, hacking automatic with date, but 2 less jewels for a total of 23. The first and only noticeable major difference is that the frequency of the movement has been reduced from 28,800 to 21,600 bph, which reduces the overall energy consumption of the movement. You will see the effect of this in the sweep of the seconds hand, as the smoothness will be visually reduced. The hand will now tick 6 times per second rather than 8.
Other modifications include reduced friction in the escapement, which was achieved through the use of “a high-performance synthetic material”. As well as creating more power storage within the mainspring by reducing the barrel-arbor’s core. The arbor is essentially the axel on which the mainspring winds. It’s logical that by reducing the diameter of this element, the spring can be stretched further, thus increasing reserves. Beyond that they claim that the precision of the watch has been increased by the use of a new balance that has been regulated in an “innovative manner”. Unfortunately, specifics on that are unavailable. (image on right from timezone.com)
All said and done, you now have an automatic with an 80-hour power reserve for under $1,000, or COSC grade for just over. Though accuracy specs are not available at the moment, in my time spent with the watch, it showed no sign of inaccuracy that was perceptible by eye. The power reserve was in fact quite long, as the watch kept running for a few days off of my wrist. 80 hours is just over 3 days, obviously, which allows you to rotate in other watches without having to worry about loss of time.
Visually, the C07 is very similar to a base 2824-2. The architecture is generally the same, with the only immediate difference being the absence of the fine regulation screw. The movement is fairly undecorated save a wave pattern that is on a few of the plates within and the rotor. That being said, it’s still fun to be able to see it through the case back, even if it is lacking blued screws and Cotes De Geneve.
Straps and Wearability
The Luxury Automatic comes mounted on a 22mm steel bracelet that tapers to 20mm at the clasp. It has a classic link design, reminiscent of an Oyster bracelet, with a brushed finished and the addition of a polished line running down the center of every link. The mix of finishes helps tie it in with the case and dial design. Since this is a dress watch, Tissot went with a butterfly clasp, which has the benefit of creating a seamless bracelet. It’s not as a secure as a typical fold over clasp, but doesn’t feel like it will pop open accidentally either. The quality of the bracelet is very good, as you would expect. It’s comfortable and works well with the design of the watch. Though for $850 the watch is available on leather, I think the extra 45 dollars is worth it, as only on a bracelet will the full-steel aesthetic really come across.
On the wrist, the Luxury Automatic is a comfortable and eye-catching watch. The 41mm wears a bit large for a typical dress watch, but is nevertheless a pleasant size to wear. I’d love to see a 38mm version too, but as a happy medium for wrist sizes, 41mm works. The 9.75mm height makes sure the watch is nice and flush, easily slipping under a shirtsleeve. The watch has a lot of presence and can definitely attract attention, but is ultimately reserved and understated. The reflections that come off of the case and dial do add a bit of a decorative element, but in a way that is handsome, like a silver tie-bar, and not ostentatious.
The monochromatic all-steel design lets the watch work with any attire, as it is basically colorless. As such, it can brighten up a dark grey suit, or look pleasantly soft with a navy blue. I do think the styling while on a bracelet is fairly formal, so if you want to get more daily wear out of it, having spare black and brown leather straps would be smart.
There are many things about the Luxury Automatic to be excited for. The movement for starts, though not likely to impress the un-initiated, is exceptionally cool for both its price and function. Having an 80-hour power reserve is something you will likely appreciate, though in subtle ways. And being able to get it for $895 is amazing. I would love to see future iterations with power reserve indicators as well. Yes, this will give the watch an extra hand and dial to ogle, but it is also a very practical addition that most watches with larger than average power reserves have.
Apart from the movement, the Luxury Automatic also has a very unique and exciting design that belies its sub $1,000 price tag. The finishing, texturing and layering are all unique, attractive and exceptionally well executed. Everything comes together to become a modern and handsome dress watch with its own character. The all-steel design also makes it a versatile watch that will look good with any formal or office safe attire. So, if you are in the market for a dress watch, I think there is a strong case to be made for the Luxury Automatic. There are also many variations available, including ones with black dials, chronometer grade movements and even diamonds on the dial (not my cup of tea, but the price is still pretty good). There is even a ladies version with a 33mm case that still features the Powermatic 80 movement, which is very cool as all too often women’s watches seem to be just about the aesthetics.
By Zach Weiss
Review unit supplied by Tissot