When two years ago Tissot unveiled the throwback watch paying homage to the quartz model of the '70s it was highly acclaimed as one of the coolest quarz watches in circulation. And with this year relase by introducing the Tissot PRX Powermatic 80 they brought the cool to the mechanical watches world.
Effectively, this was a mechanical variation on the PRX theme. It maintained the 40mm integrated design but added a patterned dial in a variety of colors. The most popular is the blue dial version which (we have to say it) is quite reminiscent of a certain similarly styled watch that costs many multiples more than this one. But hey, no one brand owns the steel sports watch design, and no one brand owns the ability to add a little depth and visual interest to a dial.
And with that, we are left with the subject of today's review – the blue dial PRX Powermatic 80. It's a watch that has entered the cultural conversation both in and out of the small niche world of watches.
To say that the PRX is popular would be an understatement. Now, the quartz version presents incredible value at $395, but I will argue that the $675 price tag of the Powermatic is even more value-packed. With it, you are getting a watch with heritage from a historic brand fitted with an ETA-based caliber (on the ETA 2824, via the ETA CO7.111). On top of that, you get a seriously great bracelet and clasp system.
A lot of the quality and value inherent to this watch is a byproduct of an often-maligned element of the industry, the watch group conglomerate structure. In this case, the Swatch Group which owns Tissot. Through this system, Tissot is able to achieve lower costs and receive higher quality movement through Swatch's ownership of ETA. We see the same sort of thing when it comes to Hamilton (also part of the Swatch Group). To me, this allows a better product to reach a wider audience at a lower price. It's all upside really.
Handling the Tissot PRX for the first time, what initially struck me was the heft and overall quality of the watch. From the dial to the hands to the angles of the case to the flexibility of the bracelet to the clasp, everything on this watch felt well constructed, thoughtful, and of a piece.
What I found most interesting about the wearing experience with the PRX was just how luxe it feels on the wrist. For way less than $1,000, you're getting a watch that wears like $20k – especially to passersby.
While I understand that Tissot's target demographic for this watch is the young watch buyer, I can't help but see this thing become an enthusiast darling if it isn't already. Sure, it's two years old but these things take time to really catch on. And I think we are finally starting to see it transition from a niche object to a broader wrist presence.
I'll never forget last year's NBA playoffs when social media thought Klay Thompson was wearing a Vacheron Constantin 222 only to realize it was a gold Tissot PRX. The watch looks and wears like that. It punches way...way above its weight.
Here we have a quartz-crisis era re-edition that is playing in the same sandbox as the PRX by offering a steel sports watch design with an integrated bracelet. With this watch, you get a blue dial with a detailed pattern and automatic movement. Unlike the PRX, this piece slots in just north of $1,000.
Clearly, the 1970s were the age of integrated bracelet design. The Zenith Defy Skyline is hardly competition (given the price) unless you are the kind of person that buys a Tissot PRX and gets so enamored with the overall design of it that the only logical next purchase is a more expensive watch with a similar look, and feel.
Continuing on my line of thinking as it pertains to the AP Royal Oak, I think it's really something that we are even having this conversation. It is no mistake that the PRX contains this certain aesthetic. And while I could rail against the watch and the brand for going this route, I think it only does good things for the watch, a potential buyer, and the hobby at large.
I enjoyed my time with this watch and imagined myself as someone experiencing mechanical timekeeping throughout my week with it. It was cosplay of sorts, but it put me in the right headspace to enjoy the watch properly. When I came to, I realized I just like the watch full stop.
Aside from the MoonSwatch, it's hard to think of a budget-friendly watch that has broken out of the watch world and into the real one. The Tissot PRX is certainly such a watch and it will be interesting to watch how its influence grows in the years to come.
Model: Tissot PRX Powermatic 80
Movement: ETA-based caliber (ETA 2824, via the ETA CO7.111)
Case Size: 40mm
Dial: Blue with radial pattern
Bracelet: Integrated steel bracelet
Water Resistance: [Not specified]
Power Reserve: Powermatic 80, up to 80 hours