In the pantheon of watches there are a few that stand out. Looking for your first automatic watch? Pick up a Seiko Orange Monster. Looking for a piece with a little history? The Omega Speedmaster is your man. Looking for an entry-level Swiss diver that won’t break the bank? Tissot’s Seastar has always had you covered.
The latest version of the Seastar is an interesting catch. A few years ago – circa 2010 – the pieces were all black with bold hands and a more staid case style. Now Tissot, a Swatch Group brand, has turned the Seastar into a chunkier diver with massive bar hands and case that looks like a steel sandwich.
The $695 Seastar 1000 contains a Powermatic 80/ETA C07.111 movement with an eighty hour power reserve which means the watch contains a massive mainspring that keeps things going for most of three days without winding. The Seastar is also water resistant to 1000 feet thanks to a huge screw down crown and thick casing. The new model has an exhibition back where you can see the rotor spinning over and balance wheel. The watch also has a ceramic bezel, a fairly top-of-the-line feature in an entry level watch.
Tissot has a long and interesting history. Best known for their high-tech T-Touch watches which had touchable crystals, allowing you to activate a compass, barometer, or altimeter with a single tap, the mechanical pieces have always seemed like an afterthought. The company also produces the classic Tissot Le Locle as well as a chronograph that I absolutely loved, the T-Navigator, but that has been discontinued. The Seastar, then, is one of the few mechanical pieces they sell and at sub-$1,000 prices you’re basically getting a Swiss watch with solid power reserve and great looks.
Watch folks I’ve talked to over the past few months see a distinct upturn in the Swiss watch market. Their belief that the Apple Watch is driving sales of mechanical watches seems to be coming true, even if it means cheaper fashion watches are being decimated. Tissot sits in that sweet spot between luxury and fashion, a spot that also contains Tag Heuer and Longines. Ultimately this is an entry level watch for the beginning collector but it’s a beautiful and beefy piece and worth a look. (John Biggs@johnbiggs)