FEATURE

Vintage Eye for the Modern Guy: Tissot Heritage 1948 Chronograph


Tissot has been a relatively minor player in the growing market of vintage-inspired watches. With only a few recent releases, like the Tissot Heritage 1936 Mechanical and the Tissot Heritage Navigator, the brand is slowly getting more involved in the category, yet remains overshadowed by other Swatch Group brands’ vintage-inspired pieces. This year, Tissot worked to change that with the release of the Heritage 1948 Chronograph, an automatic watch inspired by models produced in and around that namesake year. This new watch draws many of its design elements from vintage pieces in Tissot’s collections — especially those of the 1940s — many aspects of which remained in the brand’s collections up until the mid-1960s. However, in many other areas, the watch adds a new modernity that differentiates it from a full re-issue of any specific vintage piece.

Tissot Chronograph - vintage

The watch features a 39.5-mm polished and satin-finished steel case with distinct twisted lugs, flat chronograph pushers, and a straightforward signed crown. On its white dial is a black outer minute ring with eleven silver dots for hour markers (and applied Roman numerals at the 12 o’clock mark) and a date window at the 4:30 position. Deeper on the dial are three subdials for running seconds at 3 o’clock, along with a 12-hour and 30-minute counter at the 6 and 9 o’clock positions, respectively. Indicating the time are two silver leaf-shaped hands for hours and minutes; powering these hands is a Tissot-finished automatic ETA 2894-2, capable of a 42-hour running time and partially visible through a part-sapphire/part-steel caseback. The watch is currently priced by Tissot at $1,400 on a leather strap, and $1,450 on a Milanese mesh bracelet (below).

Tissot Heritage 1948 - bracelet

While this watch draws its name from the year 1948, many of its features can be seen as derived from even earlier pieces, such as those first seen in 1946 (pictured at top). Compared to this piece, the influences are obvious: twisted lugs, long flat pushers, leaf-shaped hands, and dot hour markers are the same in both the modern and vintage watches. However, the differences on the contemporary version are also clear, i.e., the modern, enlarged Tissot logo and lack of outer tachymetric scale; the use of steel as compared to the vintage model’s gold; the new date window; and finally the Roman numeral (instead of Arabic) at the 12 o’clock position.

Tissot Heritage 1948 - front-back

The detail I find most interesting on the modern watch is the use of an acrylic as compared to a sapphire crystal over the dial. In the past, before sapphire glass was widely available, acrylic was the go-to material for watch crystal. Yet that material, while it was better at resisting shattering than modern sapphire, had a major flaw in that it was very easily scratched — an issue which is oftentimes of greater concern to many watch wearers. As a result, acrylic crystals have become inextricably linked to vintage watches, and for Tissot to choose the material for this modern piece is a simple yet powerful homage to the legacy of the brand.

Tissot Heritage 1948 - black strap

Overall, Tissot has been spot-on in channeling its rich history of sports chronographs in this piece, while also adding some modern flair. If I were leading the design team on this watch, I might have opted for the Arabic 12 o’clock numeral, no date window, and a solid caseback, for even more historical accuracy. However, this watch’s high level of manufacturing, along with its very competitive price tag (below $1,500), make complaints about its historical inconsistencies a bit less relevant. In any case, this watch seems to have set a new bar for where Tissot could go with its Heritage collection, in terms of both pricing and style, and I only hope the brand will continue to release more watches like this in the years to come.

For our last article in which we cover the modern edition of the Bulgari Bulgari to its vintage predecessor, click here.

Caleb Anderson is a freelance writer with a primary focus on vintage watches. Since first learning about horology, he has garnered extensive knowledge in the field, and spends much of his time sharing his opinions among other writers, collectors, and dealers. Currently located near New York City, he is a persistent student in all things historical, a writer on many topics, and a casual runner.

 

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2 Responses to “Vintage Eye for the Modern Guy: Tissot Heritage 1948 Chronograph”

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  1. Jeff H

    I love these watches, I have both the original Tissot Chronograph (mine was made in 1949) in 14k gold with the twisted lugs and the one released in 2003, I spent over a year restoring the my 1949 chronograph myself and it looks fantastic, I agree with Rodney statement, on the 150 year anniversary I did wish they did not use the acrylic crystal.

    Reply
  2. Rodney Mayer

    Looks a nice watch but the use of acrylic crystal is a mistake.What a shame.

    Reply
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