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ReviewA Past Success Reinvigorated: The New PR516 Collection By Tissot

Back in the 1970s, the PR-516 watch was adorned by many, including a certain Mr Bond himself. More than 50 years later, the vintage design makes a comeback in four new variants, featuring a chronograph, a tachymeter, and a pulsometer

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Of late, it seems as though Swiss watchmakers Tissot have found an all-new modus operandi. Scan the archives of days past, find interesting designs, and revive them with a bit of panache. It all sounds fairly easy, but there’s a lot more that goes on behind it. The new PR516 watches have followed this game plan, bringing a lot to talk about and admire.

Tissot PR516 Sport Watch Chronograph watches quartz timepiece luxury PRX Steel Sport watch tachymeter two-tone watches
Scan the archives of days past, find interesting designs, and revive them with a bit of panache. It all sounds fairly easy, but there’s a lot more that goes on behind it. The new PR516 watches have followed this game plan, bringing a lot to talk about and admire. Seen here are the new PR516 quartz timepieces

The PRX watches, for example, featured a design by Tissot they first debuted in the 1970s, and brought back in 2021. The Sideral watches saw a similar theme. Both timepieces have knocked it out of the park, with the PRX, in particular, becoming a worldwide phenomenon, almost acting as a ‘gateway drug’ for enthusiasts. The recently launched PR516 watches would perhaps like to see themselves enjoying such fame. Let’s take a closer look at these new offerings from Tissot.

The Watch Guide

Seen here is the quartz chronograph, with the sub-dials on the upper half placed a little higher than those seen in the mechanical chronograph

A Bit Of Everything: The New PR516

Three quartz versions in different colours (all three fitted with a chronograph), one mechanical chronograph, a dynamic and versatile design, equipped with a tachymeter and a pulsometer—it seems as though these new launches from Tissot have just about a bit of everything.

Focusing on the quartz versions first, the colours of the three variants include blue and two black dials. One of the latter two include gold-coloured hands, indices, and sub-dials, while the other one features silver-hued details. The quartz versions all come in 40mm cases that are 13.7mm thick. Apart from a few other differences, the biggest visual detail differentiating the PR516 quartz watches from their mechanical counterpart is the placement of the sub-dials. In the quartz versions, the sub-dials on the upper half are placed a bit higher up than in the mechanical version.

The Watch Guide

Three quartz versions in different colours (all three fitted with a chronograph)

The Watch Guide

The colours of the three variants include blue and two black dials. One of the latter two include gold-coloured hands, indices, and sub-dials, while the other one features silver-hued details

The watches, including the mechanical version, come with a steel bracelet with curved links and featuring easy interchangeability. Seen on the caseback of the quartz watches, the engraved laurel wreath and a sports car’s steering wheel with the number 516 at its centre, symbolises the racing heritage associated with this collection. This little detail has a bit to do with the history of this watch, which we’ll get to in just a bit.

The Watch Guide
Seen on the caseback of the quartz watches, the engraved laurel wreath and a sports car's steering wheel with the number 516 at its centre, symbolises the racing heritage associated with this collection

Those details—along with the fact that Tissot have clearly tried to make an extremely versatile watch—define the PR516 line really. Sure, they’re going for mass appeal, but that doesn’t mean that these watches don’t bear the excellence that Tissot’s execution provides. That, coupled with the fact that this watch features a newly developed movement and the interesting history of this series, makes them that much better.

Tissot PR516 Sport Watch Chronograph watches quartz timepiece luxury PRX Steel Sport watch tachymeter blue dial watches
The quartz versions all come in 40mm cases that are 13.7mm thick

The PR516 Mechanical Chronograph—With A New Calibre

With sub-dials that are placed more centrally, the PR516 Mechanical Chronograph also comes with an exhibition caseback, revealing the Valjoux A05.291 movement—which makes it debut with this PR516 watch. Adapted from an automatic movement, the calibre, which is now manual-winding, has undergone specific modifications. This includes an addition of specially decorated bridge—which replaces the winding rotor—bearing the inscription of the brand. The movement gives the timepiece a power reserve of 68 hours, with a maximum timekeeping deviation of five seconds per day. Nothing should be expected from the Swiss watchmaking giants.

  • The Watch Guide

    One mechanical chronograph among the new PR516 watches is a dynamic and versatile design, equipped with a tachymeter and a pulsometer

  • The Watch Guide

    The watches, including the mechanical version, come with a steel bracelet with curved links and featuring easy interchangeability

  • The Watch Guide

    This PR516 comes with a glass-box-style sapphire crystal glass that elevates its appearance, lending added luxuriousness

  • The Watch Guide

    This classic sport watch with a modern technical advancement is a real winner

  • The Watch Guide

    The PR516 Mechanical Chronograph also comes with an exhibition caseback, revealing the Valjoux A05.291 movement—which makes it debut with this PR516 watch

Sized at 41mm this mechanical chronograph comes with a glass-box-style sapphire crystal glass that elevates its appearance, lending added luxuriousness. As stated by the brand, ‘Tissot sometimes redesigns models that have marked its history. The trajectory is clear: to draw inspiration from its rich archives, with continual reinvention’. This watch in particular is among many recent timepieces that illustrate this strategy that the brand have cultivated.

The Watch Guide
Adapted from an automatic movement, the calibre, which is now manual-winding, has undergone specific modifications. This includes an addition of specially decorated bridge—which replaces the winding rotor—bearing the inscription of the brand

A Look Back At The PR516 Chronograph

Back in 1965, a few new designs led to the birth of the original PR 516, which is pictured below. ‘PR’ for Tissot—a recurring theme, as seen in the PRX watches as well—stands for ‘particularly robust’ or ‘precision and resistance’.

The model was associated with the innovative GT wristband or the 707 steel bracelet, and it’s easy to see why. A standout element is the bracelet, which itself warrants a closer look at the watch.

The Watch Guide

Seen here is the vintage edition of the PR516 chronograph

The Watch Guide

Here is a time-and-date edition from the earlier collection

The Watch Guide

In 1968, American rally legend Henry Bradley apparently wrote ‘Tissot PR516’ on his car out of pure passion, as documented by the brand

‘They keep ticking (and accurately) under stresses that could silence other watches,’ was the idea behind these timepieces. As a result, the PR516 chronograph—also because of its superior performance—was adorned by many, even rally drivers and actors. In 1968, American rally legend Henry Bradley apparently wrote ‘Tissot PR516’ on his car out of pure passion, as documented by the brand. Not long after that, in 1973, it was actor Roger Moore who sported his PR516 in one of his iconic roles. It was apparently his own personal watch that he chose to act with. The movie? The James Bond classic—Live And Let Die!

Tissot PR516 Sport Watch Chronograph watches quartz timepiece luxury PRX Steel Sport watch tachymeter luminous bezel
The PR516 watches have ample number of luminous elements to aid readability in the dark

Perhaps the new PR516 line might inspire such fandom again. However, even without that, the line is a fine example of what Tissot have been doing with their product offerings. The plan of action with the PR516 watches is clear to see for anyone who has been paying attention: a seamless fusion of heritage and innovation. With a diverse range of options, the different movements powering these watches, and the versatile design, the details of the PR516 present the makings of a crowd-pleaser, which this line very well might become.

1 comments
  • Aajay Prasad Verma March 29, 2024 at 10:17 am

    Good

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