The recent trend of watch brands reaching into their archives for inspiration on new watches showed no signs of abating at this year’s Baselworld watch fair, with contemporary versions of historical pieces emerging from a slew of watch brands. Tissot, which rolled out more than 100 new references overall, was no exception, paying tribute to its past with the Tissot Heritage 1948 and Tissot Heritage Banana Centenary Edition.
The Tissot Heritage 1948, as one might glean from its name, takes its cues from a watch produced by Tissot in 1948 that now resides in the brand’s museum. The original timepiece is representative of an era in which Tissot manufactured numerous chronograph wristwatches for — as the brand’s advertising touted — “engineers, technicians, doctors and sports men.” The modern watch, whose 316L stainless steel case measures 39.5 mm in diameter and features alternating satin and polished finishes, retains much of its predecessor’s vintage elements as well as some updated ones. Retained from the historical piece are the two chronograph pushers, the minute track around the dial, the leaf-style hands and stud details, and the distinctively shaped lugs. Modern touches include the tricompax dial design, the applied Roman numeral XII at 12 o’clock, and the date display at 4:30.
The partially see-through caseback, adorned with elegant engraved patterns and calligraphy, offers a glimpse of the watch’s self-winding mechanical movement, a Swiss-made ETA 2894-2. The watch is water-resistant to 30 meters and has a vintage-appropriate hesalite crystal over the dial. The historical Tissot logo on the dial identifies the watch as part of the brand’s Heritage collection. The Tissot Heritage 1948 collection is comprised of three models, two on either a brown or black leather strap with butterfly clasp (price: $1,400) or on a “retro modern” steel Milanese bracelet with jewelry clasp ($1,450).
The other new Heritage piece, the Tissot Heritage Banana Centenary Edition, has its origins in an ill-fated journey between Russia and Tissot’s hometown of Le Locle, Switzerland, that took place 100 years ago. In 1916, Tissot exported a wristwatch to a customer in Russia. The following year, on the eve of the Russian Revolution, the watch was sent back to Tissot for maintenance but was unable to be returned due to restrictions on gold watch imports imposed after the revolution broke out in October 1917. This timepiece and its historic voyage inspired this special edition, whose rectangular case re-creates the soft, curved, wrist-hugging contours of the original, which gave it its nickname “Banana.”
The watch stays true to its ancestor with its slim rectangular case and dial; large. curvy Art Deco hour numerals; blued vintage-style hour and minute hands; Tissot heritage logo at 12 o’clock; and textured onion crown. The case, which is water-resistant to 30 meters and has a mineral crystal covering the dial, is in 316L stainless steel with either a rose-gold or yellow-gold PVD coating. Several strap options are available, including genuine alligator leather in chocolate brown or black with butterfly clasp with push-buttons, and vintage dark brown leather with butterfly clasp. The movement is Swiss quartz, which enables Tissot to price these vintage-look timepieces at a very accessible $315-$375. Both the Tissot Heritage 1948 and Heritage Banana Centenary Edition will be available at retail in September 2017.