Aside from Vintage Ebay Finds, we at Deployant thrive on finding fun watches which don’t break the bank. This Friday, we take a look the fun, affordable Tissot PRS516 Small Triple Seconds.
Most of the time, a novel approach to watchmaking can either be found in a combination of either prohibitively expensive or independently produced in small numbers. The Tissot PRS516 Small Triple Seconds caught our eye during Baselworld 2016 in the first quarter of the year and having spent all of 10 minutes with it, the Automatic PRS516 Small Triple Seconds was an affordable watch which was constantly hovering at the back of our minds.
Today, we decided to take a more hands-on approach with the watch by asking for a loaner and then taking it through the paces of what made the automatic PRS516 Small Triple Seconds such an amazing value proposition for such a novel complication. But first some context:
The TNT Royal Retro from Pierre DeRoche typically priced at CHF25,000. Seeing as Pierre Dubois is one of the scions of the Dubois Depraz manufacture, the TNT Royal Retro’s movement is one straight from its loins and it’s novelty simply maximises the favourite pastime of all mechanical watch lovers – watching that seconds hand make its gentle sweep and multiplying the enjoyment by six. Priced at CHF25,000 which works out to be S$35,640, it’s a rather pricey time only complication.
Affordable yet Interesting: Tissot PRS516 Small Triple Seconds
Now, priced at S$1620, the automatic Tissot PRS516 Small Triple Seconds brings a similar seconds indicating novelty to the table. Yes, it doesn’t partially expose the return spring of the individual seconds hands nor feature interesting bridge details secured by blued screws but its raison d’etre remains the same – take a standard sweeping seconds hand and turn it into something mesmerising.
Here, Tissot, the biggest watchmaker in Switzerland in terms of volume has released a watch which approaches the novelty of the aforementioned timepiece for a fraction of the price. The triple seconds indicator follows in the same vein as Pierre Deroche’s interpretation save for the retrograde returning hand function. That said, what Tissot has done with the PRS 516 Small Triple Seconds (I have to keep mentioning the name in full because PRS516 is also the name of the Bi-compax chronograph in the collection) is eminently more mysterious as it creates the illusion of the seconds hand disappearing beneath the dial only to emerge in the next “fan-shaped window”.
In contrast to TNT Royal Retro’s 10 seconds gradation, Tissot’s Small Triple Seconds sub-dials count up to 20 seconds before handing off to the next sector. As the seconds hand reaches the 20 second mark, a new hand emerges in the next aperture and then marches onward. Pleasantly, the dial is amazingly symmetrical. Each design element is balanced by its counterpoise. The date window is indicated by a red arrow and aperture reminiscent of a Rebel Alliance X-Wing starfighter’s targeting system while being mirrored by the watch’s series name “PRS516” with “PRS” being similarly recessed like the date window – it’s a detail which WIS will appreciate. The red “516” is also an appropriate counterpoise for the arrow.
Mechanically speaking, the base movement is not exactly special, utilising the workhorse ETA 2824 and then loaded with a triple seconds module exclusive to Tissot. Running three seconds hands and then using their underlying gears to return the hands to starting positions is rather taxing on the power reserve thus limiting what is usually 42 hours to 38 hours running time.
Amazingly, this watch, a blend of dressy and sporty features is depth rated for up to 10 bar or 100 metres. It’s a pity that the PRS516 small triple seconds which takes inspiration from high performance machines doesn’t utilise the steering wheel motif for its oscillating weight. Instead, it’s just a static design element affixed to the underside of the sapphire caseback – Tissot could have gone the extra step but I doubt it would be worth the incremental cost to the retail price; S$1620 seems to be a rather sweet spot.
And for the price tag, not even counting retail discounts, you get brush-finished high tech ceramic bezel with brush-finished mid-case. Kudos for Tissot in taking the effort to finish the bevelled edges to a mirror shine. Additionally, there’s tremendous depth and dimensionality thanks to the hour indexes which float above the dial, affixed to the white minutes chapter ring. There’s no lack of details on the dial either – horizontal striping replicating the look of Cotes de Geneve lend an air of distinction to the otherwise sportive timepiece. The 42mm stainless steel timepiece is just south of 14mm thickness but its tapered lugs and slimming colour theme appears to wear thinner.