Hands-On: Tissot Heritage 1973 Chronograph Review
Watches, such as the Tissot Heritage 1973 don’t often happen these days.
Let me explain why we have to talk about them. Reeditions, homage watches or vintage reinterpretations are pretty standard in the industry these days. We covered some of them in the past. However, it seems that the golden age of vintage watches ended with the 1960s. Watches, and especially chronographs of the ’70s were much different than the timepieces that came out a decade earlier. They were huge compared to the small 36-38mm chronographs of the ’50s and ’60s. They were much more colourful, and most of them had automatic movements. As they are less classic than those mentioned above 60’s chronographs, brands don’t want to resurrect them nowadays. Luckily, we have exceptions like Tissot. They reach back to their past frequently to revive an impressive watch that once had its day in the sun.
Tissot has a partnership with Swiss motor racing team Kessel Classics. They compete in several series such as the Montecarlo Historique, Bernina GTG or the Monaco F1 Historique. The founder and denominator of the company, Loris Kessel, was racing in Formula 1 in 1976. Tissot had been in car racing as early as the late 1950s, but their partnership with Renault Alpine in 1973 was the move that catapulted them into the motor racing world. From that year on Tissot’s presence was even more noticeable in motorsport. In 1976 Tissot entered the world of F1 when they became the official backer of young Loris Kessel. He was racing for RAM Racing (UK) at the time, so the cars also received Tissot’s logo on their sides. This new Tissot Heritage 1973 is here to celebrate the brand’s relationship to motorsport and the Kessel family.
Tissot’s history with car racing is much deeper than what I’ve just written. However, we are here to talk about the Heritage 1973, so let’s have a look at the watch. First impressions; very nicely executed chronograph with clear vintage inspiration. Anyone who saw the press images when they initially came out would agree. The one thing I’m not a fan of is the size. Tissot states that the watch is 43mm wide; in reality, it is closer to 44mm, which I find a bit too large. Yes, I get it, modern times modern standards. Still, I would’ve been happier with a tad bit smaller case size. On the plus side, the finishing on the case is superb. The sunburst finish on the top polished lugs and sides. The back is all brushed too. At the ten on the side of the case, you can find the date corrector.
The pump pushers and the crown are perfect in size. They match the rest of the case. The crown has the vintage style Tissot logo. If you turn the Heritage 1973 around, you’ll immediately see the huge display window and the gold (coloured) rotor of the movement. There aren’t much around the display window, which I quite like. I’m not much of a fan of too many inscriptions on the back. Here, you can see the brand name, the reference number and the word “Limited Edition” with the number XXXX/1973. While the crystal is domed, the watch is pretty thick at 15.2mm. Again, according to Tissot, it’s the only 14.8mm, which it isn’t, but that’s ok. The watch is water-resistant to 100m. All in all, I like the look of it. If you disregard the size, it looks like an actual vintage piece.
The most prominent feature of the dial is that it’s a panda with three sub-registers. Tissot took inspiration for this watch from a Navigator chronograph they released in 1973. That only had two sub-dials and were made in panda and reverse panda execution. The vintage model has the Lemania caliber 1340 inside. Those watches usually had two chronograph hands; one for the seconds and the other for the 60-minute counter. The 12-hour counter was at the 6, and the continuous seconds sub-dial was at 9. For the new Heritage 1973, there is only a 30-second counter. This is at 3 o’clock, while the 12-hour counter is at 6 and the continuous seconds is at 9 as well. The date is between 4 and 5 (on the vintage it was at 3). I’m lucky enough to have both watches, so I compared the dials.
It is remarkable how close the new Heritage 1973 to the original dial. The logo print, the tachymeter even the faint black outline of the indexes are identical. The designers cut no corners in reproducing the face of the watch. And while we’re at it, the hands are similar too. Well, not 100% identical in terms of size but terms of design. I got in trouble in the past for readers taking everything I say a word for word, so I have to be careful here. But the gist of what I’m saying is that albeit the Heritage 1973 is a different watch, the vintage DNA of the original model is visible in it. Tissot calls the dial “silver sandblasted” I see a beautiful white dial. Don’t blame it on the brand; it must be me. The hands and indexes have Super-Luminova coating.
Inside the Tissot Heritage, 1973 is, obviously, an ETA/Valjoux caliber, the 7753. For those of you who do not know what the 7753 is; it’s the classic 7750 with a small tweak. See, the 7750 is a 3-register chronograph caliber, where the sub-dials are at 6 (12-hour), 9 (continuous 60-seconds) and 12 (30-minute). The 7753 is the same, but the sub-dial at 12 is down at the 3 o’clock position. As you could see from the case back photos, it is a self-winding chronograph movement. The vibration per hour is 28,800, has 27 jewels and about 46 hours of power reserve. Beautiful perlage decoration on the movement too. Not that a sports watch needs it but since there is a display back and the caliber shows, why not?
To finish the motor racing look the Heritage 1973 comes on a calfskin leather strap with racing-style holes in it. I know I’m usually not the biggest fan of Swatch Group straps, especially on their affordable brands like Longines, Certina or Tissot. However, I have to say the strap is rather lovely. As you’d expect from size a large watch, the strap is 22mm. It comes on a butterfly deployant clasp with safety buttons. Just like the majority of the case, the clasp also has satin finishing. For this excellent resurrected 70s racing watch one would have to pay €1,990 ($2,100), which is not a crazy amount of money for what you are getting. As a matter off act for a limited edition Tissot chronograph that looks this cool, it’s not a lot of money at all. Especially if you are a fan of larger 43mm+ watches.
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