Earlier this week, Tissot held a preview in New York for a few of its 2019 novelties. As part of the Swatch Group, Tissot will not be exhibiting at Baselworld this year, meaning that its releases will be spread out across 2019 rather than announced all at once. As the Swatch Group’s most accessibly priced brand, Tissot combines its mass-market savvy with a number of releases targeted at enthusiasts each calendar year. While there are a number of intriguing introductions coming for Tissot in 2019 (some we can’t share quite yet), one that caught our eye immediately was the two-tone Tissot Gentleman Automatic collection, an entirely new lineup that should be able to effectively cross the barrier between commercial viability and enthusiast approval.
The Tissot Gentleman Automatic is comprised of four new dress watches that are made of stainless steel with a solid 18 kt pink-gold bezel. That’s right, the bezel uses bona fide gold rather than being plated for appearance’s sake. Each watch is nicely sized at 40 mm by 10.64 mm, meaning that the watch can comfortably fit underneath a dress shirt and blazer. The lugs are extended slightly and curve downwards to nicely contour to the wrist.
The dials are the differentiator between the four watches with options in black, cream opaline, chocolate, and silver. In my opinion, the cream opaline iteration is the clear highlight out of the four models with its dial having some additional texture due to a grained finish. Each dial features a crosshair placed at its center and a date window surrounded by a rose gold border at 3 o’clock. The applied hour indexes also deserve mention as they have been beveled and feature an attractive satin finish on top. The dauphine hour and minute hands are slightly faceted and feature a dash of white Super-LumiNova.
Thanks to the labeling underneath the central axis of the dial, you can immediately tell that the movement inside is the fan-favorite Powermatic 80 that has been used in a variety of Tissot timepieces as well as extensively in the wares of sister brands like Rado and Longines. If you’re unaware, the Powermatic 80 is basically a souped-up version of the ETA C07.811 movement with an 80-hour power reserve. For the Gentleman Automatic, Tissot has added a silicon balance spring which will allow for longer intervals between service as well as greater resistance to magnetic fields. The decision to equip the Gentleman Automatic with a silicon balance comes after the Swatch Group’s recent announcement to outfit every mechanical watch produced by the conglomerate with either a silicon or Nivachron (a new material that Swatch Group developed in collaboration with Audemars Piguet) balance spring. The movement is visible thanks to an exhibition caseback that exposes the watch’s engraved rotor that features Tissot’s “Waves of Time” decoration.
Other details worth noting include a water resistance rating of 50 meters and the usage of sapphire crystal for the dial side and mineral glass for the caseback. The black, cream opaline, and chocolate dial models come on a color-matching calfskin strap with a foldover steel clasp for $1,300. In addition, there’s a version that comes on a three-link, multi-finish, stainless-steel bracelet for only $50 more. Tissot says that the new Gentleman Automatic collection will hit boutiques around May or June of this year.
When looking over the Tissot Gentleman Automatic’s technical specs and aesthetic details, it’s hard not to mention the similarities between the new range and the Baume & Mercier Clifton Baumatic. The Baumatic was last year’s surprise introduction by the Richemont brand and featured a crosshair on its dial and a solid rose-gold bezel in some of its versions as well as the claim of being the first Richemont brand to use a silicon balance. Last month during SIHH, news broke (originally reported by the New Journal of Zürich last fall) that Richemont was no longer allowed to use silicon in the Baumatic due to patent claims by the Swatch Group, Rolex, and Patek Philippe. The threesome are a part of a consortium that backs the Swiss micro-engineering firm CSEM.
While we were (and still are) big fans of the Baume & Mercier Clifton Baumatic collection, it’s a simple task to correlate that recent announcement with the Swatch Group’s choice to release the Tissot Gentleman Automatic this year. Given that the price of the Gentleman Automatic lands over $2,000 less than the rose-gold-bezel enhanced Baumatic ($3,500 compared to $1,300), it’s clear that the Swatch Group is using Tissot’s name recognition among general consumers as well as its collector cache to make a highly competitive play within the entry-level market.