While the Veblen status of mechanical watches in present day means there’s no good argument for why you need one, that doesn’t mean ideas like good value should be thrown out with the bath water. To this point, there’s a very good reason why the Tissot PRX Powermatic 80 has gotten so much attention since it was first released.
Aside from being an elite watch, the reason why the PRX has enjoyed such rampant success since it debuted in 2021 is because of the sheer bang for buck it offers. As a timepiece that easily made our list of the best affordable watches and our best gifts for men, it blends heritage design inspiration with modern scale of economy watchmaking, while being offered at a price point that is almost unbeatable in today’s market.
Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of what it looks like on the wrist.
Tissot PRX Powermatic 80
- Design looks great
- Very comfortable on the wrist
- Great movement with impressive power reserve
- Polished bezel prone to scratches
- Bracelet is difficult to adjust yourself
Design: Score 23/25
The Tissot PRX Powermatic 80 is a quintessential example of 1970s watch design. For context, the era was a decade rocked by the release of Seiko’s quartz movement, which forced the Swiss watch world to justify itself in terms other than accuracy and affordability.
The answer to this repositioning came from the mind of legendary watch designer Gerald Genta, who designed the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, Baume & Mercier Riviera, and Patek Philippe Nautilus.
The common thread between all three designs was the introduction of the integrated bracelet directly into the case of the watch, ushering in a new era of stainless steel sports watches — for which the market recently is as hot as its ever been.
It was a flamboyant period of experimental watch design which sought to distance itself from the traditional codes of decades past. Classic round case designs and conservative dials were out. Hard angles, sharp case lines, and dial textures not previously seen were in.
All of these elements can be found in the Tissot PRX Powermatic 80, with a 40mm 316L stainless steel case and sharp lugs that fit the integrated bracelet perfectly. Examples from the past that feature a similar case design include Rolex’s only quartz timepiece, the Oysterquartz, and the reference 222 from Vacheron Constantin.
On the wrist, you get a definite sense of quality construction with the integrated bracelet feeling extremely solid and offering a substantial weight too. It’s secured with an invisible butterfly clasp — “butterfly clasp” is another name for double folding clasp — which enjoys subtle Tissot branding engraved directly into its surface.
Perhaps the biggest contributor to the impact of the overall design is the grid pattern blue dial, which creates a definite sense of depth and texture.
It’s reminiscent of Audemars Piguet’s famed tapisserie-pattern dial, but the difference in the design of the case and integrated bracelet is enough to avoid anyone levelling terms such as “homage” or “imitation” at the Tissot PRX Powermatic 80.
Since it was launched, Tissot has offered a number of different dial colours. Although if we’re being honest… a blue dial is about as classic as it gets.
Watchmaking: Score 22/25
Haute horlogerie is a phrase reserved for the very best movements in watchmaking, distinguishing itself with manual construction, hand finishing, and technical complexity. However, there’s something extremely impressive about the movement inside the Tissot PRX Powermatic 80, despite its relative affordability and simplicity.
Instead of marvelling at the black polishing of its interior angles or the consistency of its Côtes de Genève, perhaps the most incredible aspect about the Powermatic 80.111 movement is how consistently and strongly it performs for its price.
From its superb amagnetic performance and class-leading 80-hour power reserve, one of the best things about Tissot being a part of the Swatch Group is how much it benefits from the group’s robust industrial base.
The Powermatic 80.111 movement can be found in a number of different Tissot watch collections (including the new Sideral and Chemin des Tourelles lines) and is based on the legendary ETA 2824-2 calibre. While the ETA 2824-2 ticks away at 28,800vph for 42 hours of power reserve, Tissot slows this ticking down to 21,600vph in order to eek every last bit of mechanical efficiency out of the movement and deliver an 80-hour power reserve.
Its level of visual interest might not be that of a movement from Patek or Vacheron, but the Powermatic 80 movement is a winner — resistant to magnetic fields (thanks to its patented Nivachron balance spring), housing one of the best power reserve levels in the game, and yours for a very affordable price.
Other details that should give you confidence about its robustness are the scratch-resistant sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating over the dial and a water-resistant rating that can stand 10 ATM of pressure.
Wrist Factor: Score 22/25
While more a point of personal preference than anything else, the first impression I had of the Tissot PRX Powermatic 80 was its weight on the wrist.
Far from the rattly sensation of hollow bracelet links, it has a feeling of precision machining and tight tolerances, both to the bracelet and case. If a watch can feel cheap, the Tissot PRX Powermatic 80 isn’t one of them.
Its on-wrist heft might sound like it could be overbearing or distracting as you walk down the street. Unless you don’t like the feeling of something around your wrist (in which case there likely aren’t any watches that are for you), it’s perfectly comfortable.
This is (in part) thanks to the relatively slender profile of the case, which at 10.9mm thick is just about Goldilocks as far as proportions go; the ideal watch tends to have an approximate ratio of 4:1 for watch case diameter and thickness.
Another element of the Tissot PRX’s comforting solidity is that you don’t feel like you need to baby it which, for a sports watch, is absolutely essential. Granted, it doesn’t have dive watch level water resistance, although at 100 metres, but it’s more than enough if you’re worried about getting caught in the rain.
There’s another consideration about how it wears, and that’s to do with the design. The angular lugs, pronounced bezel and geometric integrated case, as well as its bracelet are all new, yet somehow familiar. The PRX is a watch that looks great from a distance and doesn’t diminish the closer you get.
If you still don’t believe me, last year, during the NBA playoffs, the ears of the watch world perked up when it thought Klay Thompson was spotted wearing a brand-new Vacheron Constantin 222. As it turned out, he was wearing one of the gold-tone quartz PRX references, which clearly looked just as good at a distance.
Finally, as great as the bracelet and case are on the wrist, neither of them would feel as good if it wasn’t for how solid the butterfly clasp is. Its hidden closure and satisfying click are both hallmarks of a watch that costs five figures or more. Not a watch that only just hits the four-figure mark.
Verdict & Value: Score 23/25
As far as affordable timepieces go, the Tissot PRX Powermatic 80 is almost unbeaten at an RRP of $1,100.
Other competition might come from fellow Swatch Group stablemate Hamilton or Mido, or perhaps from the relentlessly fairly priced folks at Seiko. However, I can’t think of any watches from those watchmakers that rival the PRX in terms of combined coherence of design, heritage inspiration, and movement technical specs.
Even if the Powermatic 80 movement somehow doesn’t excite you, the quality of the build and strength of the overall impression remains with the quartz model offerings, including the scratch-resistant sapphire crystal with antireflective coating and water resistance. It’s a great watch collection, no matter which reference you end up deciding on going with.
In a world where everything feels like it’s getting too expensive (because it really is), the Tissot PRX Powermatic 80 is a good reminder that great value still exists out there. Even if it’s something you don’t really need.