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Tissot PRS 516 Powermatic 80 review
I've owned this watch for a few weeks, but I waited for a while to review this once since I wanted to check out the power reserve on the Powermatic 80 movement. And since two members here actually asked for a review in the chat box once night, well, who am I to refuse such cool people.
I have always kind of wanted a Tissot PRS 516. As far as I know, these auto-themed watches have been in production since 1965, and frankly, I almost jumped on a couple of pre-owned models in the past, but they tend to hold up really well price-wise on the secondary market, with older models selling for as much or even more than new ones. So I waited; as much as I like to shop at retail, paying the full nut for any watch makes me blood pressure spike.
So I was really just short of shocked to see this particular, current PRS 516 model being discounted at a retail store here in NYC called Hour Passion, which is owned and operated by the Swatch Group (anyone visiting here should check this place out, though it's easy to miss, as it's located closer to Madison Square Garden on 34th Street than it is to what I call the 5th Avenue stroll around 47th Street; it's worth checking out for Tissot, Longines, Certina, Rado, Hamilton, and other Swatch brands). Since I've always liked the looks of many PRS 516s, and since I've been curious since the Powermatic 80 movement was ushered in by ETA about five or six years ago, offering either COSC or near-COSC accuracy at a low cost, this was a no brainer – particularly at the price I purchased this for.
The hard stats: Actual model number: T1004301604100; water resistance: 100 meters (330 feet, but it's a non screw-down crown, so this is no dive watch); 316L stainless steel case; ceramic bezel; 42mm case; 12.9mm thick; sapphire crystal (with double-sided anti-reflective coating); movement: Powermatic 80.121.
After owning this for a few weeks, I can pretty much state that the Powermatic 80 truly does what it's hyped to do: It stays accurate (and still running, of course) for days after it's fully wound; take it off on a Friday night, it'll still be chugging along on Monday morning. From everything I've read about the various 80s, the movements use a low-friction escapement that's set by a laser (and uses lower-weight components) and a mainspring that's more efficient in retaining energy to increase the watch's capacity to stay running. You notice right away that's it's not the smoothest-looking auto you'll own; while the second hand isn't lurching like a cheapjack Claro or mega-smooth like a Precisionist, it's still clearly an auto to the naked eye.
However, for a watch with a $800 list price (marked down, no less), that PowerMatic 80 was just too much for me to resist. My impressions:
I liked the styling, a lot. The '60s-style hands I've always been a fan of, and the ceramic bezel outside the slightly stadium-style dial is, at least in my mind's eye, sharp as a tack. There is a line of red color between the stainless steel case and the bezel that really pulls the look together. Retro yet modern, yet nothing is over-the-top.
The case back is … well, since it's auto-themed, I guess Tissot believes you have to do something like this. Not nutty for it, but there it is. Also: I'm assuming this sat in the store for ages, since what might appear to look like scratches here is actually schmutz from the pull-off cellphone that I'm still working on getting off the case back. Time to invest in a Cap Cod, I guess.
The old-timey “racing” calf's leather band sports a deployant clasp, and a mechanism had me scratching my head at first – the push-through to size it doesn't have a bottom metal piece. It works, but it seems unfinished, and the tang is hard to maneuver when sizing to the wrist.
Minor quibbles. The watch seems to wear smaller than its 42mm dimension, and the strap is comfortable. It's also lighter than you might think it might be, which is probably the result of the movement's lighter components, yet it seems durable, and I already know it can take a bump or two, which for someone like me is key.
All in all: For what I paid for this, one of the biggest bargains I've ever been lucky enough to wander in to. The watch really punches above its weight in both style and function, and I really have to recommend the Powermatic 80. The Sistem51 you can keep; the Powermatic 80 I'd be glad to own several of. It does everything they say it does, and now those into them can own autos with COSC accuracy for a fraction of the price of high-end watches whose power reserves are far less capable.
A last note: Amazon is selling this same model for about $399, which is less than I paid for mine.