At Baselworld 2016, the key event for watch makers and watch enthusiasts across the world, the new Tissot Heritage 1936 was unveiled, and it was one of the most authentic recreations of any watch made before. Tissot's new model received a roaring appraisal and was certainly one of the stars of the show that everybody was talking about. As the name implies, the watch has its roots in the model released in 1936 by Tissot.
The 1920s and 1930s was the time that fashion relating to watches was completely transformed and men began to exchange the pocket watch, which had dominated the market by virtue of being the only option available, for the wristwatch. This happened partly as a result of social and cultural transformation after the first world war and partly as a result of shifting fashion and technology.
The earliest wristwatches were simply pocket watches that watch makers had adapted to fit the wrist. Arches were welded on to each side of the case and then a strap fitted through that could be fastened to the gentleman's wrist.
Part of the beauty of this new watch is that it resembles, very closely, the 1936 model and the early idea of a wristwatch as being fashionable, that strange consensus between pocket versions and the need to shift towards the changing fashion of wearing the watch on the wrist. For in fact, wristwatches had been around for a long time, being worn alongside the pocket watches. However, the difference was that, until the 1920s and 1930s, wristwatches were considered unfashionable, at least for men. The first world war was actually responsible for shifting the fashion. After all, it was much more convenient to glance at a wrist rather than reach out for a pocket watch from their uniform. By the time the 1930s had come along the fashion had seemed to completely shift in favor of wristwatches.
Tissot itself was founded in 1853 by Charles-Félicien Tissot, a fitter of gold cases and his son, Charles-Emile Tissot, a watchmaker. In the earlier days of the company Tissot timepieces were exclusively pocket watches, luxurious pendant watches or complication watches, and they were almost all destined for the United States, which was the first major market for watches, in any particular volume. After a few years of steady growth the company moved towards Russia which became a major market. In 1917 they became a limited company and began to specialize in movement-blanks production, which they have continued to do ever since.
In 1930 they merged with the Swiss watchmaker Omega to form an Association. Also in 1930 they made the world's first non-magnetic wristwatch, something of a revolution in watchmaking. They have always been known for innovation and good, clean design. This is certainly still the case with this new watch, as it is based on great design from 80 years ago, soon after the merger with Omega.
The new Heritage 1936 watch has a large, 45mm case made of 316L stainless steel. Now, 45mm is pretty large but, in fact, when it is put on the wrist itself it doesn't look as big as you originally imagine. The hands are beautifully classic to the period it emulates and then there is of course the iconic Tissot logo. The strap is high quality brown leather with stitching in the color cream. This soft brown leather strap assists highly with comfort and is actually quite well fitting and does not rub.
The only thing that could be said to be a little unremarkable is the buckle which is standard issue and made of steel. Nonetheless, it is the relative simplicity of this watch that makes it quite so stylish. The lettering on the dial adds to this sense of character leaving critics with little ability to see fault in a watch that harks back to a golden age of watchmaking.
Reviewers and critics were actually fairly surprised by this release by Tissot and they were quick to comment on the fact that it is mostly dial. However, there has been a lot of support for this watch from magazines and bloggers across the world. It features in most of the lists of 'best watches from Baswelworld' that there are available across the internet and in hard copy magazines.
The movement of the watch, an ETA Unitas 6498-1, is hand wound and Swiss made, reeking with character and again harking back to that key age of the 1930s. Indeed, the 6498-1 was actually originally sold as a movement when the original of this model came out 80 years ago. Because it is a large caliber, it cannot be used on smaller watches and so is a perfect choice for a watch such as this. For the ladies there is an ETA 2895 movement, which offers a slightly smaller timepiece overall. The hunter style case provides a perfect place for any engravings should the buyer so wish. The watch is also water resistant to 5 bar (50m or 165ft).
The watch retails at $995 which is a bargain given this watch's deep heritage and stylish persona. Of course, prices vary from place to place and if you search around you can get yourself an even better deal. Indeed, it is available currently in some places online at $795. The watch is however available directly from Tissot, who are really the best place to buy it from.
So, there we have it, the new watch from the master watchmakers Tissot that harks back to a glory days of Swiss watchmaking and the time when fashions began to shift considerably, moving away from the old fashioned, 'fuddy duddy' pocket watch, towards the striking and practical wristwatch. By buying this watch you are sharing a piece of history at the same time as having something that is highly fashionable. It is no wonder that it received such a good reception at the Baselworld event. There is a lot going for this watch. You just have to consider whether the size of the face is too big for what you are looking for. We suggest that you try before you buy and contact Tissot if you have any questions. Any good watch dealer should be able to give you further advice.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker