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Review: Tissot PRX is the vintage sports watch we all need

Tissot’s already highly successful PRX series is a nod to the days of the rise of quartz movements in the 1970s and seizes on a soaring demand for watches with integrated bracelets and a hint of sports vintage, writes John Mulgrew


The Tissot PRX

The Tissot PRX

The Tissot PRX

Who would have thought a watch harking back to the darker days of the Swiss industry pivoting to quartz would the piece which reverberated around affordable horology.

Tissot first unveiled the PRX model in 1978 – a then smaller quartz offering as watchmakers turned to the cheaper and more accurate movement, which almost brought the mechanical industry to its knees with the proliferation of the Japanese market.

It’s a brand which has remained a steadfast stalwart of the Swiss watch industry, under the umbrella of the Swatch Group, but one which hasn’t rocked the boat in terms of designs and concepts which have gripped the interests of aficionados.

But the new 40mm PRX appears to be that watch. After its release last year, a simple but striking quartz piece at under £300 has gone on to make lists and articles about one of the best bargains in the industry right now.

It’s hard to disagree. It’s a clever piece of design. While Tissot has gone on to release its automatic version with its ever-reliable Powermatic 80 automatic movement, and a new Valjoux-based chronograph, it could be argued that this watch’s natural habit is in its quartz version.

It bears a striking resemblance to Rolex’s Oysterquartz. Yes, Rolex made a quartz watch amid the surge in the 1970s and 1980s. Of course, like essentially every other model, it’s gone on to command bigger prices, due to its collectability and relatively short production period.

The 40mm case is just 10.4mm thick, and sits very snugly on the wrist. The case size belies its lug-to-lug dimensions, due to that integrated bracelet. But this sits flush on an average sized wrist.

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And let’s talk about that bracelet. On first impressions, and unaware of the brand, you’d think you were wearing something decidedly more expensive. It really is what you’re buying this piece for.

The brushing on the links is smooth and uniform, tapering down from around 24.5mm at the lugs to around 17mm at the butterfly deployant clasp. However, inside each of the solid links there’s bright, polishing, which makes the entire thing pop with any light. It’s classy, subtle, yet jumps out in a room, despite a relatively small size compared with some of the larger wrist monsters out there.

The dials each have their own character. The blue and green have a subtle sunburst, the black is a little flatter while the silver has vertical brushing, similar to that of the case itself.

While some of these ‘week on the wrist’ articles mean sending a review watch back to said company after I’ve experienced it for a few days, this is my own, opting for the silver version.

It spots vertical brushing on the dial, which marries with the case finishing, and lightly rose gold accents on the hands, which are very subtle. I think this model evokes the Oysterquartz more than any and from a distance or for those unfamiliar with anything other than the industry stalwarts, has the closest ‘Rolex’ vibe about it.

Tissot has also now extended the already highly-successful range with 35mm variants harking back to the case dimensions of the original, and a growing interest in smaller pieces, along with leather strap versions.

Aside from the obvious Oysterquartz comparisons, Tissot has more generally seized on the soaring demand for Gerald Genta designed, or inspired, sports watches with integrated bracelets.

If you’ve followed the market on some of the higher-end models, then you’ll know prices among the most desirable have skyrocketed – already outside the realms of possibility for most, many have now reached what some may consider the upper limits for a steel piece.

That includes the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak – one of Genta’s iconic designs and arguably the first luxury steel sports watch. Models are going for upwards of £40,000 for steel versions.

Of course, another Genta classic, Patek Philippe’s Nautilus has taken that market surge a step further. You’re unlikely to find a steel version for anything less than six figures.

Other more affordable brands have also gotten on the bandwagon, including Maurice Lacroix’s Aikon series – certainly a nod to the Royal Oak.

There’s often a disconnect between those who have an awareness of the watch world, those with a few quid who buy one high-end piece and that’s the watch they’ll wear forever, and those who have no interest or knowledge at all.

Tissot’s PRX is a watch which can bring those groups all together. It’s a perfect entry into the world of Swiss watches and has the balance and versatility to make it a ‘one watch’ collection, but it would equally sit in the watch boxes of those with a few heavy hitters, or a more modest selection.

The rapid expansion of the range following the release of the initial 40mm quartz options on bracelet is a reflection of how important the PRX is becoming in the Tissot stable. And it’s clear why. 

For more information on the full Tissot line you can visit www.lunns.com or visit its stores in Belfast and Derry