With the vast array of different watch styles available on the market, it can be easy for enthusiasts to overlook the charm and versatility of a simple dressy three-hand design. When the right classic three-hander comes along, however, it can serve as a potent reminder that there are still plenty of occasions that call for something a bit more refined than a diver. Tissot is the latest brand to demonstrate this principle, reviving its traditional Chemin des Tourelles nameplate for 2023 with a clean design, class-leading movement performance, and a quiet charisma that adapts to a wide variety of situations. The 39mm-wide Tissot Chemin des Tourelles reviewed here stands as the center point of the new series amid a variety of available case sizes, materials, and dial options, deftly blending classical cues with sleek, modernist design choices to create a truly compelling new contender in the sub-$1,000 dress watch race.
At 39mm-wide, the stainless steel case of the new Tissot Chemin des Tourelles is light and manageable on the wrist, but the clean and simple dress watch silhouette belies a deceptive amount of visual depth. The operative word here is “slender” – from the narrow rounded polished bezel to the short, tapering attached lugs, the overall layout is designed to be as slim and dial-forward as possible, but the case sides take this visual slimming impulse to new levels. While the central case band offers a sharp vertically brushed finish, this is abruptly interrupted by a drastic case side undercut, sloping from the centerline of the signed crown directly into the sapphire display caseback. Not only does this trim a substantial amount of visual weight off the case sides, giving the illusion of a slimmer case profile, these sloping polished sides also minimize the case’s already small footprint on the wrist for a lightweight, compact wearing experience. Topside, the Chemin des Tourelles accentuates its all-dial look with a gently domed sapphire crystal, which softens and refines the overall form as well. Tissot also offers impressively detailed finishing for this price point here, with small touches like polished bevels where the attached lugs meet the case adding a real sense of quality throughout. In keeping with the dressy aesthetics, the Tissot Chemin des Tourelles is not a particularly rugged watch, with a middling water resistance of 50 meters.
Like the case, the overall dial design of the Tissot Chemin des Tourelles may be classically simple, but the brand adds an array of subtle accents here that deliver an impressive feeling of quality. The navy blue main dial surface takes on an unusual lacquered semi-matte sunburst finish, fading to a clean even backdrop in most lighting conditions but revealing rich sapphire blue highlights at certain angles. The tapering applied indices offer a similarly stealthy highlight, with extremely slim bevels that play dramatically with harsh direct light, but virtually disappear in softer lighting conditions. By contrast, the half-matte, half-polished alpha handset delivers a bolder visual impact that naturally draws the eye towards these functional elements on the wrist. Perhaps the most impressive touch, however, is the applied minutes track. Each minute is marked by a separate minuscule polished dot, which adds a continuous highlight around the edge of the dial while drawing attention to the charming-vintage-style domed dial surface. The only real disruption to the bright, harmonious design here is the contrasting white date display at 6 o’clock, which should prove to be divisive among enthusiasts.
Tissot powers the Chemin des Tourelles with the Powermatic 80 automatic movement. Manufactured exclusively for Tissot and its Swatch Group sister brands by ETA, the Powermatic 80 is an impressive performer, with a high-tech Nivachron balance spring and a hefty 80-hour power reserve at a 21,600 bph beat rate. Tissot keeps the movement finishing simple and businesslike, with basic matte bridges and plates topped by a signed cutout rotor featuring a sunburst texture. At its heart, the Tissot Chemin des Tourelles is a deeply traditional design, and the brand reflects this with its strap pairing. This particular Chemin des Tourelles reference is paired with a simple honey-brown leather deployant strap. It’s a perfectly serviceable strap on its own, with a flexible, comfortable feel right out of the box, but when judged against the nuance and complexity of the rest of the design it comes off as a bit basic.
While it may not be the flashiest or most complex niche in the watch market, the traditional dressy three-hander can still be a compelling and deeply enjoyable option for a variety of occasions, and the new Tissot Chemin des Tourelles delivers one of the most charismatic choices in this segment with truly impressive value. The new Tissot Chemin des Tourelles series is available now through authorized dealers. MSRP for the 39mm-wide Tissot Chemin des Tourelles as tested stands at $695 USD as of press time. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.
>Model: Chemin des Tourelles
>Price: $695 USD
>When reviewer would personally wear it: As a dress-casual daily wear at the office.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Budding enthusiasts looking for a versatile, well-made three-hander suitable for most occasions.
>Best characteristic of watch: Excellent movement; clean, well-proportioned case design.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Dial texture disappears in most lighting conditions; uninspired strap.