Baselworld 2017 Highlight: Introducing The Tissot Heritage 1948 Chronograph

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Vintage-inspired chronographs are, if you’ll forgive the pun, old news by now. The horological world has been churning out some incredible classic style pieces for several years, and there’s no sign of that trend slowing down. However, the majority of these old-school watches so far have pulled from the designs of the ‘60s and ‘70s. The much newer trend gaining steam in the past year or so, though, looks back further to the styles of the ‘30s and ‘40s. Tissot laid serious claim to this territory at this year’s Baselworld with the stunning Heritage 1948 Chronograph, a well-proportioned new effort with some fascinating details.

The Tissot Heritage 1948 Chronograph is a wonderful, value-driven surprise from this year’s show.

The case of the Heritage 1948 Chronograph is undoubtedly the most interesting part of the watch, coming in at a pleasingly modest 39.5 millimeters. Viewed from above, it’s all polished surfaces, with a simple flat bezel producing clean, elegant highlights. Framing this circle are the Heritage 1948 Chronograph’s crown jewel–the ornate twisted lugs. Wide-set for a masculine stance, but delicately tapered, these lugs add a hefty dose of period class to an otherwise simple form. At nine o’clock there’s a wide, flat pillbox crown signed with the Tissot “T” and flanked by classic, flat chronograph pushers.

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The case sides feature vertical brushing, creating some contrast with the polished surfaces above. Far more impressive, however, is the finishing on the semi-open case back. Instead of a full display window or a solid stainless back, Tissot has opted for a hybrid of the two here, with two smaller semicircular display windows surrounding a bold stainless Tissot Heritage stamp.

This style of case back has been used on numerous past pieces from Tissot.
The decoration is a touch odd for such an era-specific piece.

These windows are also partially surrounded by some small filigree, which strikes me as an odd choice. The designs on display here aren’t particularly reminiscent of 1948 to me. If anything they read as “Old West,” the kind of etchings you’d expect to see on a carriage window or a cowboy’s gun. Then again, a display window of any kind is an anachronism here, but its presence is understandable. There’s some simple but attractive decoration on the ETA 2894-2 movement, including a custom signed rotor with well-executed Côtes de Genève.Turning our attention to the dial, we have a comely classical design with a few interesting quirks. The hour markers are applied silver buttons surrounded by a railroad seconds track, except for at 12 o’clock. For that position, Tissot has opted for a bold applied Roman numeral, which at first seems slightly oversized and out of place. However, when coupled with the large, old-school Tissot script below, this larger index helps to balance out the visual weight of the dial against the three sub-dials at three, six and nine.

Speaking of the sub-dials, the registers on the Heritage 1948 Chronograph are beautifully executed, with light snailing and a polished surrounding ring giving them dynamism in moving light. The chronograph handset is also a brilliant choice here, with counterweighted leaf hands echoing the elegant hands of the main dial. The one major complaint is, of course, the date window. Beyond disrupting dial symmetry, the 4:30 placement is still jarring no matter how often I see it.

The date window, while arguably a mass-market necessity, is undeniably disruptive here.

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At the heart of the Tissot Heritage 1948 Chronograph lies the ETA 2894-2, a low-profile and simpler alternative to ETA’s Valjoux-based chronograph offerings. This is a modular chronograph movement with the 2892-2 as a base with a chronograph module on top. While on the one hand, this is an easier and cheaper base movement to service than a Valjoux, on the other, watchmakers are sometimes reticent to work on the module, opting for a complete replacement that can be a bit costlier in the long run. While there are some chronograph enthusiasts that may turn up their nose at a modular rather than a dedicated chronograph, at the end of the day this is still a solid choice that helps to keep the overall price reasonable.

At just 39.5 millimeters in diameter, this is an easy wear for wrists of almost any size and only a touch larger than the original ’40s chronographs it emulates, keeping the vintage-style proportions intact. These early/mid-century designs can struggle with daily versatility, but the Heritage 1948’s simple looks give it some wearability in business casual as well as more formal environments.

The just-a-hair-under-40mm size works well on a number of wrist sizes. Featured here on a 7.5-inch wrist.

The Tissot Heritage 1948 Chronograph launches with three 20 millimeter strap choices: brown alligator, black alligator and a handsome milanese mesh bracelet. All three are attractive, evocative pieces that definitely play off the Heritage 1948’s ethos, but the milanese offers a touch of extra flash on the wrist that elevates it above the rest. A suede strap might also work well here, adding some texture and color to the overall package.

Overall, the Heritage 1948 Chronograph is a handsome new addition to the growing ’40s vintage trend, and at $1,400 will offer some impressive value when it goes on sale in September, 2017.


For more information, visit Tissot.

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Hailing from Redondo Beach, California, Sean’s passion for design and all things mechanical started at birth. Having grown up at race tracks, hot rod shops and car shows, he brings old-school motoring style and a lifestyle bent to his mostly vintage watch collection. He is also the Feature Editor and Videographer for Speed Revolutions.
seanpaullorentzen
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