#TBT Tomas’s TOP 8 Vintage Tissot Watches
In today‘s selection, you will meet an under-the-radar vintage Tissot chronograph with a Lemania movement, an unusual Worldtimer, and a quartz Tissot that helped get them through tough years and survive. We also won’t forget the constantly running monopusher Mediostat or the later lube-free plastic experiment Astrolon Watch…
Vintage Tissot T12 Chronograph
One of the many models in the Tissot T12 line that includes a simple three-hander or compressor-style dial. They all share a chunky, round, and literally hard to overlook case with hidden lugs. This is ’70s style at its best. The chronograph version might be a surprise for you, especially due to the fact that it is powered by a Lemania 873 movement. If you didn’t know, that’s the exact same movement as the Omega 861 caliber. However busy and playful the design is, it’s still quite well organized and easy to read. Prices at around €1,000 with dealers, less if you are lucky at an auction.
The red sub-dial hands and diamond-shaped central chrono hand are my favorite details. Despite the fact that the T12 has a more-than-generous diameter, almost every single owner claims that the 43mm case wears smaller than its size. A last but not least detail to take into consideration when evaluating the T12 Chronograph is the original bracelet made by none other than Gay Freres. If you want to learn more about the vintage Tissot T12, don’t miss Mike’s comparison with the Seiko 6138 Yachtman.
It’s not your typical monopusher that performs the start-stop-reset drill over and over. The Mediostat and especially it‘s central chronograph second hand never sleep. A default pusher position means a constant flow. The hand only stops if you half-press the single pusher at 2 o’clock. A full press resets the central hand to zero and releasing the pusher makes the chronograph hand start running again. Pretty unexpected and amusing.
The vintage Tissot Mediostat was introduced to the market around 1942 and is powered by the Tissot caliber 27.53. There were multiple dial designs available, all carrying the beautiful Mediostat logo. That’s one of my all-time favorite watch logos. A Tissot Mediostat is not easy to find. I’ve only seen a few of them over the last two years. If you’re wondering about the price, just look at the last one auctioned on eBay. It had quite a tired dial and slightly crumbling hands with some lume missing, but it was still auctioned for over €1,000. Until you get one, here is our full #TBT review of Tissot Mediostat.
Tissot Navigator 8I7
A Tissot watch where the discussion gets serious. I don’t need to explain much here, one brief look is enough to get you hooked. You can’t unsee all the Breguet Type XX, Zenith Cairelli, Lemania “Viggen“ for Swedish Air Force, or Breitling 817 watches. This clean and functional military dress in a 40mm diameter case is powered by a Lemania caliber 872. What I like the most is the “T-boxed“ logo and the beautiful creamy patina it usually comes with. Don’t be surprised if you see it coming with a bezel insert that has developed a neat “ghosted” patina. Be ready to pay anything north of €7,000 for a decent piece.
Tissot 6216 family
The 6216 family was launched around 1943 as Tissot’s stainless steel water-resistant line of sports chronographs with three sub-dials. It’s powered by the C27.41H caliber, which is nothing else than the CH27 C12. Still nothing? Think of the Omega 321 caliber instead of the legendary Speedmaster moonwatch. If it is out of your budget and you can live without galvanically applied copper on some movement parts, you can still get this caliber (with minor differences) in this beautiful Tissot. Although when in nice condition, the prices for the Tissot can climb up quite high as well. Take a black version of today’s featured 6216-4. It was auctioned for €4,000 without auction fees.
That’s quite a lot of money for a 36mm chronograph, I agree. Once you wind it and strap it on, you’ll get why they are so expensive. Especially if they come with an intact and beautifully aged lume and dials without a single stain or scar. No doubt these go on the list of the classiest chronographs from the 1940s. Stay tuned, we‘ll look deeper into the Tissot ref. 6216 soon on #TBT.
Vintage Tissot Chronograph 33.3
If we go a few years more into the past, we discover another caliber that would be a crime to omit. The Lemania 15CH was better known at Tissot and Omega in the 1930s as the caliber 33.3. It became quite popular due to the fact that it was used in military chronographs. Omega kept the premium line, Tissot was a brand offering good quality at competitive prices. But experts say the quality of movements did not differ much. Just look at this beauty with one pusher integrated into the crown. The chronograph function is activated by the top chronograph pusher and can be stopped and reset by the crown pusher. If you want one, add a few extra thousand on top of the Tissot 6216 prices.
Vintage Tissot Navigator World Time Ref. 4002
Launched in 1953 to mark the Tissot centenary, which is a bit earlier than the legendary Rolex GMT Master. Unlike the model built until then, only one of the components which indicates the universal time actually moved. It was a disk in the center that made one complete turn in 24 hours. To set it, you align the disc showing your home timezone to midnight. Then you stop the disc using the pusher at 2 o’clock and then proceed to set the hour and minute hands as you always do. You can now read your hometown against the standard 12-hour time index on the fixed engraved bezel. The second time zone can be read against the inner 24-hour disc.
The original Tissot Navigator served as a model for the recent heritage re-edition. You know, us vintage watch nerds, we stay stick to the original. If you will be patient, you may get one of the two available models in gold or stainless steel. Both are powered by an interesting bumper automatic in-house cal. 28.5N-21T. But get in line, I am still on the hunt for a 36mm in steel, which I consider to be way nicer.
Tissot Astrolon Idea 2001
If you look at any of your high-quality movements, it might sound quite ridiculous to make a wheel train of plastic. Well, it sounded like a genius idea back in 1971 when Tissot introduced the Astrolon as the first “fully“ plastic watch. The Astrolon watch consisted of 52 components, just half of what the typical mechanical watch had at the time. Only a “few“ parts such as the crown, barrel, balance, or pinions were metallic. All other components were injection molded. They were made from a Teflon-type self-lubricating plastic, which was enough to promote the Astrolon as a self-lubricating watch. The fragile and slightly cheap look that reminded one of a child’s toy didn’t help much. Neither did the quartz invasion on the horizon. As sad as the Astrolon story is in the end, it might be a great addition to your collection. It is certainly a conversation starter…
I bought it, I reviewed it, and I showed it to my wife. You know, this is a low budget watch that helped Tissot to get through a tough decade when their production dropped from almost 1 million to 15k watches. Given this context, it’s easier to understand why the idea of a quartz watch housed in a case carved into stone came through. Not only did it come through though, but it was also a rocketing success.
As ugly as it is (I still don’t get watches without indexes), it’s an important keeper for a hundred euros. Do you know what’s the most surprising? Since I showed it to my wife two years ago, she put her Cartier, Breitling, or whatever decent mechanical chronograph I tried to fit her with aside and the Tissot RockWatch is her most beloved daily wear. I swear.
That would be it for today. The rest of the selected Tissot watches such as the Navigator Automatic ref. 44940, the Tissot Navigator ref. 45500, the Tissot Navigator 45501, or even the Tissot Art Deco classics will have to wait until my next selection. If you feel like you need a constant flow of vintage Tissot watches as an inspiration, you might like to follow @Vitezi1. Happy hunting.