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Tissot PRS 516 Bi-Compax Chronograph Watch

Tissot PRS 516 Bi-Compax Chronograph Watch Watch Releases

With the increasing popularity of more sporty, retro-inspired watches, perhaps Tissot felt the need to remind us that they’ve been doing it all along. While Tissot’s PRS 516 watches have always been retro- and racing-themed, the new Tissot PRS 516 chronograph watches for 2015 feel even more so, and yet fresh and more refined at the same time. This is the PRS 516 line upgraded in almost every way and we must say that the changes go a long way. Let’s take a look at some of the notable updates and new features, such as its movement and that ceramic bezel.

Tissot PRS 516 Bi-Compax Chronograph Watch Watch Releases

Tissot watches represent some of the best value among entry-level Swiss brands, and watch lovers probably become familiar with the Tissot PRS 516 line early on. These watches have what I would describe as a certain rawness mixed with retro charm that many Tissot watches have to some degree or another – but I feel those characteristics are even more prominent in the PRS 516 watches. The collection always stood out to me first because of the weird (interesting) steel bracelets with giant holes some models have, and also because of their rather thick and angular cases. The overall collection contains quartz and automatics, with three-hand and chronograph models. Previously, the automatic chronographs have featured ETA 7750 movements with tri-compax chronograph layouts, day of the week, and date indications, as well as chunky 45mm-wide, 14.84mm-thick cases.

Tissot PRS 516 Bi-Compax Chronograph Watch Watch Releases

One of the older Tissot PRS 516 chronograph models with ETA 7750 movement (left) and the new-for-2015 model with the bi-compax ETA A05.H31 movement.

Of note, also at 45mm wide, the 2015 Tissot PRS 516 appear to have a totally different, less angular (though perhaps also less distinctive) case with some softened edges, but at a full millimeter thicker at 15.84mm. These should certainly feel “solid,” and the 100m of water resistance also suggests a general sense of durability. Though you never really know until you try a watch on, I’m afraid for a 17mm (6.5″) wrist like mine, they will just be too big. On the previous models, I always thought the three subdials felt a bit small and crammed into the center of the dial – maybe the size of the 7750 movement (29.89mm) didn’t necessitate that case size. In any case, you probably want to try one on before buying – as with any watch, of course.

Bi-compax chronographs always immediately look more retro to me. The 2015 Tissot PRS 516 features the bi-compax layout of the ETA A05.H31 automatic chronograph movement that gives it a look that is pretty distinctive from the familiar ETA 7750 tri-compax layout of its predecessors – and so many others out there. You can see the same layout on this Rado watch also using the ETA A05.H31. I think a lot of people will like the simplified, symmetrical, and cleaner look of the newer Tissot PRS 516 watches and not mind the loss of some of the 7750’s functionality (day of the week, chronograph hours). The size and placement of the subdials feel much more balanced, the dial texture is welcome, and the details feel refined. I might also mention that the Tissot PRS 516’s ETA A05.H31 movement boasts a 60-hour power reserve – that’s generally longer than the 7750. Not bad, right?

Tissot PRS 516 Bi-Compax Chronograph Watch Watch Releases

Tissot PRS 516 Bi-Compax Chronograph Watch Watch Releases

Ceramic bezels seem almost mandatory these days, but it is noteworthy here as an upgrade and welcome for its durable and attractive properties. Also note the “floating” hour markers that add visual interest and three-dimensionality to the dial (under a sapphire crystal, of course). A less commonly seen movement, upgrades (like the ceramic bezel), and design refinements, all adding up to a more attractive model in a long-standing Tissot collection… it reminds me a lot of the Tissot Seastar 1000 Powermatic 80 watch from 2014 that showed similar upgrades at the time. It seems someone at Tissot is making some good decisions and I, for one, am happy to see them going in this direction.

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Tissot PRS 516 Bi-Compax Chronograph Watch Watch Releases

We cannot neglect to mention the car and racing association attached to the Tissot PRS 516. Racing and chronographs go together like, say, red and black, and there are a couple of relevant design elements for the car enthusiast to enjoy: the chronograph pushers are apparently inspired by car engine pistons, the strap has holes to evoke a steering wheel of that style, and the simple automatic rotor is also obviously automotive in theme. Those pushers in particular are a nice touch. At this price point, however, you shouldn’t expect that the display caseback also be sapphire crystal, nor much more than very basic movement decoration. Also, here’s a picture of NASCAR star and Tissot brand ambassador Danica Patrick wearing the Tissot PRS 516 – if her wrist can handle it, maybe mine can after all.

Tissot PRS 516 Bi-Compax Chronograph Watch Watch Releases

Enjoy this picture of NASCAR star and Tissot brand ambassador Danica Patrick wearing a 2015 Tissot PRS 516.

Tissot PRS 516 Bi-Compax Chronograph Watch Watch Releases

The upgrades and redesign make the new Tissot PRS 516 chronograph even more attractive than its predecessors, and you won’t find a Swiss chronograph for much less than this – and most at this price as well as many above will be using the much more common 7750 movement. I look forward to more interesting updated models like this from the brand soon. There are currently three models of the new Tissot PRS 516 chronograph watches: the two pictured here, as well as a black and rose gold one (that Ms. Patrick is wearing in the picture). Price for the red and black Tissot PRS 516 chronograph is $2,150; price for the yellow and black on the bracelet is $2,200; and the black and rose gold model is $3,150. tissot.ch

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Comments

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  • SuperStrapper

    Reading this right after the PD article for a similar chronograph, why would anyone choose the PD? This is half the cost, just as attractive (albeit sportier in appearance with the splashes of colour, which arguably give it more personality than the PD) and contains a better movement. Won’t scratch just be looking at it too hard like the PD will either, being polished Ti.

    • BNABOD

      funny I was about to say the exact same thing. PD 4K nothing fancy, then PRS516 2K ceramic bezel, mvt unique to the brand, clean dial ….. Only beef here is size. I own a much older PRS516 42mm and thought it was the perfect size.

    • DanW94

      Agree with everything except the movement. It’s probably a wash, as this one is just a modified version of the 7750. Yes, a longer power reserve but beyond that probably not much of a difference performance wise than the Porsche which uses a re-worked high grade 7750.

      • SuperStrapper

        To bad they didn’t sort out a proper quickset date for it. But, you can see the sad little pusher on the side. Shame.

        • DanW94

          Didn’t notice it there on the caseband the first time around. Good catch.

    • Dinkee, H. O.

      How more wrong-headed could a comment be? The Porsche Design genuinely UPGRADES the lifestyle perception of others towards the wearer far more than the Tissot does. The Tissot is a starter mechanical chronograph, while the Porsche Design is a lifestyle signal to others. It is well worth twice the price. And, as my close personal friend Ralph Lauren has now made cannon for horology, the movement inside a watch is is virtually irrelevant these days.

      The HO.

      • BNABOD

        so one is a starter chrono because it says Tissot while the other is upper crust because it says Porsche on the dial and therefore, worth twice as much? the logic is undeniably flawless….

        • Dinkee, H. O.

          Yes. And thank you.

        • Marius

          Don`t forget that there is also Hublot, which uses the very same movement and charges 5 (five) times more for it.

      • SuperStrapper

        Please don’t reply to any more of my comments. I’ve had enough of the basement dwelling virgin failtrolls that inexplicably feel the need to ruin articles on this blog.

        • Dinkee, H. O.

          I didn’t spot you at the Inaugural Hodinkee Collectors Summit. Were you unable to pay the paltry $3,500 ticket price? It appears that you have a lot to learn when it comes to what is valuable and what is not in the world of horology. I would sincerely like to see you there next year, so you might consider saving monthly instalments of $300 or so, starting now. The education you’ll receive will be invaluable.

          The HO

          • Marius

            Fear not, my distinguished colleague, educating the others can sometimes be a herculean task. Now you see what I have to cope with every day. This process usually starts with denial, by which I mean that the others refuse to acknowledge our superiority. I agree with you, the Hodinkee Summit would be indeed a great opportunity to learn at the knees of the great masters–John Mayer, Ben Clymer, and the Mexican TV presenter (I can`t be bothered to remember his name).

        • iamcalledryan

          So many words and posts in service of one ironic joke. I LOL’d the first time, smiled the second time, and here we are 100 posts in.

          I preferred it when he was aping Skeletor. The fact that this isn’t even Hodinkee comes off as a little sad.

    • I agree with everything you said. Seems like you have pretty high praise for a watch which has red on it, ha ha.

      • SuperStrapper

        There’s a yellow one too! Would be my preference, although references in green and blue would be great too.

  • iamcalledryan

    This is not bi-compax, it is uni-compax!

    Freeze! Terminology Police, put your hands where I can see them!

    The “bi” would be referring to 2 registers in addition to running seconds. This has only one, hence “Uni”. As far as I know Universal Geneve never actually used the terminology “Bi”. They used Uni-compax for the two subdials, compax/compur for the three, and Tri-compax for the four subdials (three more than running seconds).

    • Mikkel Bau Jungersen

      Preach!
      It hurts my (nerd)eyes every time I see “[insert wrong prefix]-compax” used to describe the number of subregisters in a watch

  • Good job, Tissot – you made me take a second look at you. I’ll take this one:

  • commentator bob

    Whatever ETA wants to call it this watch is using a Valjoux 7753 with the hour register hand removed. You can tell by the inset date set pusher at 10 o’clock. Apparently one has step up to a Longines to get a 7753 with the hour register hand attached. New Tissot chronos using the more robust Lemania 5100 movement can be had for under $500 on the grey market.

    • commentator bob

      Correction, Hamilton offers some nice 7753 watches with all subdials functional.

  • PRS = Particularly Robust and Sporty.
    Had one years ago, never quite loved it, sold it.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    The date and the wording below are superfluous to the face on the watch face. I would wear it.

  • Bruce Wang

    The picture of Danica Patrick is prettier than the watch itself…..LOL…

  • JPonce

    It is disappointing that they made it so large, or else this is a pretty nice looking chronograph. It looks like a dinosaur on her wrist!

  • Boogur T. Wang

    Well done. Crisp presentation.

  • Dave Ryan

    I know this article is a few years old now. But I sure hope by now Zen Love knows this is not a “bi-compax”.