Hands-On With The Funky Tissot PRX Powermatic 80

Tissot struck a chord with enthusiasts earlier this year with the release of the PRX, a retro-cool throwback with integrated steel bracelet for under $400. It seemed a foregone conclusion that we’d see an automatic variant down the line, and sure enough, a Powermatic 80 equipped PRX broke cover just in time for summer. At $650 it’s still a tremendous value, but has it lost a bit of charm along the way in taking itself a little more seriously? 

The PRX is an inherently funky watch thanks to the design of the case and bracelet, and Tissot plays up this angle with their vibrant and colorful marketing around the watches, but in terms of color on the watches themselves, things are pretty somber. Black, Navy, and White dial colors are about as classic and restrained as you can get, so for all the fuss about the ‘80s character and retro vibes, this is a watch that feels like it wants to be taken seriously. Unlike Timex, who has taken a more progressive approach with their Q and M79 models, embracing all manner of color and configuration, Tissot is taking a slow role here.


Hands-On With The Funky Tissot PRX Powermatic 80

Stainless Steel
Powermatic 80 Automatic
Black, Navy, White
Super Luminova
Integrated Steel Bracelet
Water Resistance
Lug Width

The PRX is very much on-trend at the moment, and Tissot has been wise to incorporate some notable ‘meta’ features from the general hype watch zeitgeist and roll them into a sub $1,000 watch. It’s a steel sport watch with integrated bracelet, small(ish) and thin proportions, and even a textured dial giving its best Royal Oak impression. That’s not to say this watch feels like a knock off of anything in particular, it certainly doesn’t and reads as its own thing entirely, and is in fact based on a Tissot Seastar design from 1978. 

On paper, the PRX falls into a sweet spot. Tissot states a 40mm case diameter, but our calipers show it’s a bit smaller than that, though that’s not the only discrepancy we found. Tissot lists the thickness at 10.9mm and we’re showing 11.2mm – still pretty thin but with this case and bracelet, these numbers matter. This brings us to the most important numbers of this case, and that’s the “lug” to “lug”. Tissot lists the total length as 39.5mm, which is measured from the break point of the top plane of the case. Measured from tip to tip, that number is 44mm, and measured from the actual bracelet break point (where you’ll find the lug holes), we’re looking at nearly 51mm.

I point all this out not to complain, but rather to give some context to what I’m about to say: this watch wears much larger than you’d expect, and those measurements paint a clear picture as to why. On the wrist, I noticed this watch a lot more than I thought I would, especially during activity or bending my wrist at all. Its measurements don’t seem that far off the (similar) Autodromo Group B, but in practice, that watch melts off the wrist, where the Tissot makes its presence felt. It’s not uncomfortable, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call it comfortable, either. On my 7 inch wrist, at least, YMMV. 

I mentioned the Timex Q and M79 above, and one thing Tissot got very much right with the PRX that Timex didn’t with the M79, is not compromising on thickness for the automatic movement. The PRX is within a single mm of the thickness of the quartz model, and even at 11.2 this is a pleasantly svelte watch. Where the M79 ballooned up to 14.4mm from the 11mm of the Q, Tissot kept things in check and I’m glad they did. One thing I’d like to see Tissot adopt from Timex, is their willingness to have a little fun with the colors. The PRX is a comparatively sober affair, despite the lasers and neon colors of the ads. Sure, the black, navy and white dials will stand the test of time, but is this a watch that’s meant to be in the running for single-watch collection status? The case and bracelet place the watch in a very certain era, and I’d like to see the dial take more chances. 

The dial of the Powermatic 80 PRX does have one feature not shared by the quartz variant, and that is the ‘Clous De Paris’ dial. Yes, it looks a bit like the Audemars Piguet’s Tapisserie dials given the evenly spaced squares that make up the pattern, but it’s shallow and doesn’t kick out as much light as the AP. It doesn’t hinder legibility, and adds more of a subtle plaid-ish look at a glance. I’d argue it probably doesn’t need to be there, and that if they wanted to spruce up the dial a simple vertical brush would have sufficed, and kept the watch in more original territory. The flat dials on the quartz models looked great in my opinion, while the pattern may not be for everyone.

As a whole the dial is handsome, and the pattern is nothing offensive. Thick hands and long hour markers provide strong liability on a dial that pushes right to the edge of the case, guarded by a polished bezel ring. A framed date aperture appears at 3 o’clock, and it is not color matched to the dial, but it’s perfectly legible and thanks to the texture, doesn’t look out of place. The (Xtreme looking) PRX logo and Powermatic 80 labeling appear at 6 o’clock to denote the innards of the watch, which represent another strong point of this watch. The PRX, by the way, stands for Precision, Robustness, and X (10) atmospheres of water resistance.

The Powermatic 80 (80.111) inside this PRX is Tissot’s take on the ETA 2824 (both SWATCH Group brands). It’s been beefed up to 80 hours of reserve (hence the name) and features a “high-tech escapement” if the labeling on the oscillating weight is to be believed. What this really means is that the watch is laser regulated at the factory, and is not equipped with a normal regulating system. This movement does not contain the silicium balance spring found in the 80.811 version of the movement (which Ilya reviewed in the Gentlemen), opting instead for a standard Nivachron unit. Additional details on this movement are a little light, it’s been around since 2012 but servicing may present challenges for your local watchmaker when it comes to regulating. 

The case and bracelet offer an impressive level of fit and finish considering the $650 price tag of the watch, with sharp lines and polished bevels accentuating the unconventional shape. The bracelet utilizes single links that span the entire width, lending to the late ‘70s, early ‘80s retro futuristic vibe. On the wrist it’s perfectly comfortable, if a little clunky due to the wide single links, I found it best to have it sized slightly loose to account for the flat surfaces of both the case and the bracelet.

Like the quartz powered PRX watches, the Powermatic equipped models get three colorways in black, navy and white. The white dial gets a two-toned look with a gold colored bezel ring and gold dial furniture, it also gets a $25 bump in price for the trouble. The bracelet does have quick release tabs where it connects to the case, suggesting there may be other fitted strap options on the way, which would certainly be a welcome feature and offer owners the chance to bring a little more color into the mix. With the success of the watch up to this point I’d also expect to see additional variants added to the collection. 

The PRX Powermatic 80 finds itself in the right place at the right time, and Tissot has built a lot of value into this watch. I keep having to remind myself that this is a $650 watch, as it really punches above its weight class in many ways. It’s not without fault, and Tissot may lack a bit of the “cool factor” that some other micro brands enjoy these days, but there’s no denying this is a lot of watch for the money, and enthusiasts are taking notice. The retro vibe is there, but it’s been executed in a thoroughly modern way so it’ll look right at home in the business casual section of your wardrobe. 

As good as the watch is at $650, the real question becomes, is this really a watch you need with an automatic movement? There’s no wrong answer there and I’m glad that Tissot is offering buyers the choice at all, but I’d be perfectly happy with this look and a quartz ticker along with an extra $250 in my pocket. 

The Tissot PRX Powermatic 80 is currently available through authorized retailers, and with an expected high demand availability may be spotty heading into the thick of summer. Tissot.

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Blake is a Wisconsin native who’s spent his professional life covering the people, products, and brands that make the watch world a little more interesting. Blake enjoys the practical elements that watches bring to everyday life, from modern Seiko to vintage Rolex. He is an avid writer and photographer with a penchant for cars, non-fiction literature, and home-built mechanical keyboards.