The Tissot PR516 Chronograph Mechanical evokes the spirit of the 70s

Tissot revives a sporty design to great effect.

Tissot is a brand that sometimes gets overlooked when it comes to the lists of the great sports watches of the 1970s. Today, the brand is best known for its accessible take on Swiss timekeeping (and, if we’re honest, the PRX), but back in the day, Tissot created some exceptional sporty designs, obviously chronographs, but also travel watches, divers and specialised timing instruments. In recent years, we’ve been seeing a steady trickle of these classic designs returning to the brand’s catalogue. The latest to join the family is the Tissot PR516 Chronograph Mechanical. There’s also a quartz version on offer, but it’s the manual winder that we’re excited about.

Tissot PR516 Chronograph Mechanical
Tissot PR516 Chronograph Mechanical

Before we find out about the newest model, let’s investigate the past. Tissot’s ‘PR’ line dates back to the mid-50s, and the designation essentially translates to ‘particularly robust’, which is an excellent and accurate way to describe what we’d call a sports watch today. As the line evolved in the 60s, it came to embody the style of the times, with blocky dial hardware, rally straps and a generally funky attitude. The PR quickly won respect among automotive racers, notably Peruvian driver Henry Bradley, but by far, the most famous wearer of the PR516 chronograph is Roger Moore, who donned one during his tenure as James Bond in Live and Let Die. It’s a storied model with plenty of variation, and this new version proudly honours this legacy.

Tissot PR516 Chronograph Mechanical
Tissot PR516 Chronograph Mechanical

Of course, while this watch is inspired by a 1970s model, a lot has changed in watchmaking in the last 50 years. So, while the steel case still has the same aesthetics and pleasingly tapered case, the size is a little larger, at 41mm across, rather than the 36mm of the original. This new model is also thinner than the original, coming in at a quite svelte 13.7mm, and there are plenty more quality-of-life improvements. The crystal is sapphire, the case is rated to 100M, and the bracelet is in a modern three-link configuration that can be quickly changed without the need for tools.

Tissot PR516, 1970
Tissot PR516, 1970

It’s on the dial that this piece shows its historical inspiration most clearly, the hands are blocky, with vivid orange chronograph hands that are perfectly 70s, and add some visual interest for the black base. As for the movement, well, it’s the Valjoux A05 — a manually wound version of the 7753, which offers all the best bits of that legendary calibre but without the automatic winding and the extra thickness it brings. Having said that, the 68 hours of autonomy means you’re not going to be too stressed about the power reserve.

Valjoux A05 Chronograph
Valjoux A05 Chronograph

This new Tissot PR516 Chronograph Mechanical manages to preserve the spirit of this classic chronograph in an entirely modern package.

Tissot PR516 Chronograph Mechanical
Tissot PR516 Chronograph Mechanical

Tech Specs

Tissot PR516 Chronograph Mechanical

Movement: Valjoux A05 Chronograph, manual winding, 68 hours of power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, chronograph
Case: Steel, 41 x 13.7mm, water-resistant to 100M
Dial: Black sunburst
Strap: Quick release interchangeable steel bracelet
Price: CHF 1600

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