As mentioned before, Tissot seems to have followed the initial steps made by Omega to launch a high end electronic watch using unusual and expensive materials. Tissot took the same supplier for the tungsten – carbide cases (Rado) or shared the supplied cases with Omega. Both firms were associated in the SSIH group, the collaboration among them was extremely tight. As mentioned in other sections Rado had one of the best sales results of all Swiss firms during the 1970s, so the designs for futuristic pieces for Omega and Tissot were inspired by Rado’s successful models.
Finally even the choice for the movement to be mounted was the same for both firms, the ESA MOSABA cal. 9162, or cal.: 1250 for Omega which was named cal.: 2010 for Tissot.
The prototypes made by Tissot can be attributed to the Omega Cermet prototype group P2. The stainless steel case backs being screwed to a stainless steel ring glued inside the tungsten – carbide shell.
Tissot Tissonic Prototype, 1974 – 1975
Category: aesthetic prototype
Description: Heavy, tortoise shaped, tungsten – carbide cased prototype. Stainless steel movement holder glued to tungsten – carbide shell. Screwed stainless steel back with no engraved markings, but showing a stamp in black ink ‘T5’. Blue anodised white metal dial with vertical brushing. Raised metal hour markers and white printed minute markers. Date window at ‘3’. Raised metal company logo underneath ’12’, white printed firm and model name. ‘Swiss Made’ below ‘6’. White metal hands. Tritium application outside hour markers and on hour and minute hands. Small, original crown with company logo. Original, bevelled mineral crystal.
Dimensions: 40mm (without crown), lug – lug: 44mm, lug width: 20mm
Movement: Tissot cal.: 2010 (ESA 9162, tuning fork), #16679586 (1973)
Additional info: The prototypes made by Tissot can be put in line with the Omega Cermet prototype group P2. The stainless steel case backs being screwed to a stainless steel movement holder ring glued inside the tungsten – carbide shell.
As confirmed by the Tissot heritage service, the tungsten- carbide cased model has indeed been marketed between late 1975 and 1977. The public sales catalogues from this periods show the available Tissonic versions (1).
The model was officially part of the ‘Tissonic’ line bearing the reference 40616 (1). It seems the model was introduced with blue leather strap in 1975 whereas in subsequent years the model came with a stainless steel bracelet.
This prototype shows small differences as compared to the marketed version. The case is slightly different, showing a smaller recess for the crown and consequently a smaller crown. The case back is neither marked with the reference number nor with the reference to the ‘Bulova patent’ for the movement, but only with an ink stamp ‘T5’, see last of the pictures of the presented watch. The crystal is bevelled and the hands are of different shape.
Despite detailed research no sales statistics about this model is known to Tissot, but from the very limited number of pieces surfaced until now it must be assumed, that the production was extremely limited. This limited production also contributed to the false assumption, that all tungsten – carbide cased Tissonic models would be prototypes. The very high price (more than double!) compared to the other versions of the same model might explain the limited number of marketed tungsten – carbide cased pieces. One other reason might be the limited availability of tungsten – carbide cases from Rado upon release of Certina’s ‘DiaMaster’ model (see parent section).
The decision of Tissot to release a model cased in tungsten – carbide in 1975 surely has influenced the direction in which Omega would proceed with the further development of what would become their ‘Cermet’ model. This and the aforementioned release of the ‘DiaMaster’ model by Certina could be the explanations for the radical design shift between Omega Cermet prototypes P2 and P3.
To differentiate its future model from Tissot’s, and to comply with its position as high end watch manufacturer (within SSIH Omega was regarded as the ‘alpha’ brand and Tissot as a ‘beta’ brand at that time), Omega might also have been forced to change the case material from tungsten -carbide to the even more futuristic, more expensive, more exclusive and innovative CERMET.
- Tissot heritage service; personal communication
- Used with kind permission of the Tissot heritage service; copyright: Tissot Archive