Contributed by Adam Morin
This marks the thirteenth consecutive year that Tissot has served as official timekeeper of MotoGP. In honor of this partnership, Tissot has released a series of limited edition chronographs (as it has in the past). While the two quartz variants are limited to 8,888 pieces, this automatic version is even more limited at 2,012 pieces. The T-Race MotoGP 1012 Automatic Chronograph contains the C01.211 movement, made exclusively for Tissot by ETA. It combines race-inspired good looks with solid build quality at a reasonable price. We first reviewed a watch with movement inside of a Swatch Automatic Chronograph here back in 2009.
For those unfamiliar, MotoGP is the top level circuit of motorcycle racing. Unlike many other racing series, these bikes are engineered specifically for racing and do not have street-legal production variations. This year's MotoGP World Championship will be held at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on July 27-29, 2012. If interested, I highly recommend the 2003 documentary Faster. Just be sure it's not the Dwayne Johnson and Billy Bob Thornton action flick of the same name. I haven't seen that one but you are not likely to see the same motorcycle racing.
The MotoGP 2012 Automatic stands out with its contrasting stainless and black as well as bright yellow accents on both the dial and bracelet. The 45.3mm wide and 16.09mm thick case is substantial and calls attention to itself because of the size and colors. I wouldn't call it loud, but rather decidedly sporty. The 155g overall weight is not unreasonable given its size but due to the rubber bracelet the weight is felt almost entirely on the top of the wrist making it more noticeable - until you become accustomed to wearing it. At the same time, the rubber strap does hold this sizable watch exactly where you place it on your wrist.
The racing DNA is apparent in the T-Race MotoGP 2012 from first glance. The PVD black bezel is modeled after a brake disc, but not to the point of being over the top and garish. Integrated with that is a rather substantial crown guard which overlaps the three o'clock side of the bezel, giving it a brake caliper feel. A partially ovoid date magnifier follows the lines started by the caliper-like bezel extension. I'm typically not a fan of crystal cyclops lenses but I think it works in this case as it helps integrate the case and sapphire crystal. You quickly become accustomed to this design element and don't even notice it unless looking at the watch from more of a profile angle. The comfortable yet sturdy rubber bracelet has a yellow T-shaped racing stripe running down it and is closed by a fold-over deployant clasp which is stainless steel on the outside and appears to be carbon composite on the inside. The stainless exterior is etched with the MotoGP logo. Even the inside design of the rubber bracelet mimics the look of a motorcycle tire. The crown guard caliper design does jut out significantly off of the three o'clock side and may be uncomfortable to those who wear watches closer to their hand.
Inside the MotoGP 2012 Automatic beats a C01.211 movement. It was designed as a lower cost 7750 and some of those cost savings can be seen on the Tissot T-Race MotoGP 2012. Despite having a display back, the movement is completely unfinished. Tissot does a good job disguising this with the use of a painted rotor and wheel spoke design which partially obstructs the view and calls attention away from the movement itself. This is actually more in line with racing vehicles that typically value function over form and rarely include detailed finishes. The chronograph pushers have a very different sound and feel depending on what you are doing. The start and reset pushes have a satisfyingly significant snap in both sound and feel while pressing the first pusher. Stopping the count has a soft feel and is nearly silent. This difference in feel could lead to false stops should the watch be used in an actual timing function. The chronograph second hand also does not perfectly line up with zero in the test piece, though that should be an easy fix. To its credit, the T-Race did keep exceptional time during my time with it.
The dial of the T-Race MotoGP 2012 is highly legible and the use of color prevents it from feeling too cluttered, a pitfall of many chronographs. The chronograph hands are painted yellow while hands related to time telling are silver. Lume is restricted to the hour and minute hands alone but that should be sufficient for telling the time in a darkened area.
It may sound like I'm nitpicking on some points but the Tissot T-Race MotoGP 2012 Automatic Chronograph is a no brainer for MotoGP fans or anyone with an eye for racing aesthetics. It definitely packs a lot of bang for the buck with solid construction, racing design aesthetics, and a mechanical automatic chronograph. Fans looking for a slightly lower-cost alternative might be content with one of the quartz variants... but the mechanical is where it's at for my money. The T-Race Moto GP 2012 C01.211 Limited Edition Men's Black Automatic Sport Watch will have only 2,012 pieces made and has a retail price of $1,150 USD.