The Vintage Alternative — Looking To Buy A New Watch? It’s Worth Checking Vintage First
The Tissot PRX has undoubtedly been a runaway hit for the brand. Both the quartz and Powermatic 80 versions have been met with popular acclaim. The positive reactions and reviews have often focused on quality, price, and design. Recently, I looked at picking one up, but in my search, I stumbled across a vintage alternative — a mechanical gem with a similar shape. This is a short tale of my experience in looking for a Tissot PRX and buying a vintage Tissot Seastar with a kindred vibe and a ton of character instead.
Hooray for vintage; long may it last!
As you may know, the Tissot PRX is not a new design. Rather, it is the successful reinterpretation of a historical model made by the brand in the 1970s. Today, you can buy both quartz and mechanical versions, including the option of a chronograph. Lex reviewed the PRX Powermatic 80 here, and as you can see, there is much to like about the watch. In this review of the chronograph, we once again see a strong combination of aesthetics, quality, and price come into play.
These factors piqued my interest in the PRX earlier this year. It all started with a trip to a shop that stocks Tissot and trying on a few versions. I preferred the sizing of the 35mm PRX but wasn’t convinced about getting a quartz watch (just my preference). The 35mm PRX Automatic hadn’t come out yet either, so I took to the internet to see what else I could find. In my online searches, I came across a listing on Gumtree for a Tissot Seastar. I had to do a double-take, though, as it looked a lot like a PRX! Now, I know that the modern PRX is based on a quartz version from the 1970s, but I did not realize that Tissot made a mechanical version that looks quite similar too.
An old watch for a “new” look
Before long, I’d agreed on a price with the seller and my Tissot Seastar had arrived in the post. Opening it up, I got to appreciate the silver dial, which is very clean and bright. Though the watch came on a bracelet, I put it on a black Perlon strap to accentuate the silver tone of the dial. The movement is a Tissot 2481, which is, essentially, an Omega 1481. It keeps good time to within 10 seconds a day, and it is a joy to wind. The case of this example measures 37.55mm × 44.4mm but wears larger.
I am not an expert on Tissot Seastars, but I appreciate the “bang for your buck” they provide on the vintage market. Like mine, some have what are, essentially, Omega movements and are of generally good quality for affordable prices. Even to this day, we still see the Tissot Seastar name proudly used on a range of watches sold by the brand. According to this article from Swisswatches Magazine, the Seastar collection started around 1954, with an emphasis on airtight cases due to double case backs and additional protection against water and dust, including gaskets.
Passing it on
Recently, I lent this watch to my best friend and flatmate for a wedding. With its silver dial, it looked very good on him when paired with a suit. Due to its large, block-like case, the watch has more presence than its 37.5mm diameter would suggest (just like the modern PRX). He was glad to wear such a good-looking piece. One of the great things about wearing vintage watches is the idea of them being “passed down” or “recycled” rather than us always just buying new products. It is a fun aspect of this hobby.
To this day, I don’t know all that much about this 1970s Seastar except that the joys of owning it have well and truly rid me of my itch for a PRX. I have been searching for more examples of this Seastar online, but I haven’t found many. If anyone knows more about this particular watch, I’d love to learn more about it in the comments!
The experience of buying vintage watches, to be sure, can raise issues. Occasionally, what you think you’re getting (a watch in good condition) turns out to be something else entirely, or perhaps there’s internal damage or something you can’t easily spot. But sometimes it is worth taking the risk and enjoying a surprise too. Live a little!
I thought this was a good opportunity to share my experience with you all and ask a question: have you ever come across a vintage alternative that “scratched the itch” you may have had for a new watch design? Please let me know in the comments.