Founded by a father-son duo all the way back in 1853, Tissot has a similar problem to many brands in that its place in the modern market casts a dark shadow over vintage offerings that deserve real respect. The brand story is incredibly unique, much of it stemming from the escapades of the son of that founding duo. Five years after starting the company, Charles-Émile Tissot was off to Russia to establish a branch of Tissot in the empire selling gold cased pocket watches in a “savonette” style—the firm’s specialty at the time. The venture was a smashing success. By 1885, Charles-Émile’s son, Charles (yeah), found himself a Russian wife and permanently moved to establish a family and expand the success. Tsar Nicholas II took delivery of a Tissot from Charles in 1904. Unfortunately, depending on who you ask, Nicholas II was the last Tsar of Russia, and with the end of the Russian Empire in 1917 the well ran a bit dry in Tissot’s largest market as watches and items of opulence fell out of favor.
While Tissot’s story for those first 50 or so years is not all about Russia, the two Charleses in the empire is the most interesting plotline. Important to note was the brand’s early production of wristwatches in the 1910s, well before the boom. This first decade of Tissot wristwatches featured a heavy Art Deco and Art Nouveau design influence, high fashion at the time. Either by choice or coincidence, in 1918, just one year after the bottom fell out of the Russian market, Tissot made the transition from a “fabrique”—assembler of third-party Swiss parts—to full-on manufacturer. The move was ill-timed. Beyond no longer seeling into Russia, Tissot was not able to get its footing before the economic turbulence of The Great Depression. To combat these headwinds Tissot first “partnered” with Omega in 1925, and five years later in 1930 made it official in creating the first Swiss watchmaking association.
The 1950s, 60s, and 70s are generally where most vintage collectors focus. Due to the partnership with Omega through this period, enthusiasts see Tissot as a “sister brand” or little brother to the more well-known maker of the Speedmaster. As you can guess, this is not very true at all. Tissot operated with creative freedom and carved their own path through this period. It was not until the Swatch Group’s creation in the early 80s that Tissot truly lost our interest.
For auction is a great example of the Tissot and Omega alliance, beaming with signs of dress Seamaster of this era, this reference 6740-1S offers an extremely well designed and made watch at an even better value. While dial and hand design cues are shared, most Seamaster cousins feature smaller and waterproof stainless-steel cases where this Tissot is nearly juxtaposed entirely with its stainless and chrome, oversized, snap-back case. The result is just enough of a variation that this Tissot is distinctly Tissot rather than a, back in the day, cheaper version of an Omega.
The movement powering this 37.5mm “Calatrava” style wristwatch is Tissot’s caliber 27B-1, a refined version of the brand’s cal. 27, debuted in 1936. In the distillation that took place on the way, Tissot first adjusted the setting-lever spring creating the 27-T, but the 27B generation was a complete redesign, sharing few parts and only basic time only function with its older brothers. The result is a modern (for 1956), reliable, and beautifully-finished movement.
This example’s chromed mid-case and bezel are in good to great condition, presenting generally well but with some luster lost to its lug edges. No major flaws are seen such as deep scratches or dents. The caseback is stainless-steel and presents nicely with few scratches and all the correct markings inside; some scratches from a previous removal attempt are seen on the backside of the mid-case. An unsigned, large-sized crown is fitted, originality or correctness is unknown due to lack of comparable examples. The crystal is in good shape.
The Dial and Hands
The dial and hands are the stars of the show when it comes to this Tissot. With little bezel giving way to a very large-sized dial, the watch wears even larger than its 37.5mm diameter suggests. The example sports a great to excellent white, aged to cream, dial with no issues seen outside of the slightest spotting.
The handset and dial markers are gold in color with no luminous material present nor ever present from the factory. Without the radium lume that would have been applied in 1956, this example has aged gracefully and there is no need to worry about lume falling out of a hand or off of an hour marker with a hard bump.
The Tissot signed caliber 27B-1 is running but service history is unknown.
|Location||New York City|
|Movement||Manual, Caliber 27B-1|
|Dial||Aged cream eggshell white|
|Case Material||Stainless Steel|
|Band Material||Leather Strap|