High-Tech Classic: Tissot Ballade Powermatic 80 COSC

Tissot’s affordably priced Ballade Powermatic 80 COSC has classical styling and a modern mechanical movement with a silicon hairspring. Can this combination convince connoisseurs?


Based in Le Locle, Switzerland’s horological Mecca, Tissot belongs to the Swatch Group, the world’s largest watch corporation. Like its sister companies, Hamilton, Certina and Mido, Tissot delivers surprisingly high quality at affordably modest prices – and also offers plenty of history because it has been making watches since 1853. Tissot is often the brand of choice for newcomers to enter the world of mechanical timepieces.

The debut of the Ballade Powermatic 80 COSC shows that Tissot has created a classical dress watch with impressive styling that convinces right off the bat. But what you don’t see at first glance is the mechanical fireworks display that’s inside, despite the low price. Caliber Powermatic 80 COSC offers a long and very practical power reserve of 80 hours and keeps time with outstanding accuracy guaranteed by a chronometer certificate. Moreover, in the model we tested, Tissot uses a silicon hairspring for the first time.

The movement was improved without significant price increases thanks to the synergies offered by the Swatch Group, Tissot’s parent company, so our test model can be priced affordably at $925. This is the first time aficionados can buy a watch that uses silicon technology for less than $1,000. Compared to alloys typically used for hairsprings, silicon is harder, lighter, rust resistant and blithely ignores magnetic fields. A protective layer of oxide makes it nearly unaffected by temperature changes and contributes to a more regular rate for the movement as a whole. The absence of an index, which allows the hairspring to “breathe” freely, helps, too.

Accordingly, this watch’s rate results are good: the rates in the individual positions diverged by only 4 seconds and the average gain was just 3.3 seconds per day. This watch clearly shows the time during the day, but, like many elegant watches, its dial has no luminous material and thus leaves the wearer “in the dark” in the dark. A waffle pattern adorns the dial’s central disk, while applied indexes and grooves under the minutes circle add attractive details. The wellmade case is attractive, too, with satin-finished sides, polished lugs and a rhombic pattern on the bezel.

If only this watch had a screw-down back … and a more flexible wristband. The leather strap with fauxcrocodile embossing suits the watch’s styling, but while the watch is lightweight, the wearing comfort would be better if the strap weren’t quite so stiff. The doubly folding deployant clasp with safety buttons is easy to operate, and the crown is easy to grasp, even though it is relatively thin. One detail is both pleasing and unequaled: the remarkably low price. For $925, no one else offers a comparable watch with an 80-hour power reserve, a chronometer certificate and, to top it all off, a silicon hairspring. The combination of classical design, high-tech mechanisms and an affordable price is definitely a winning trio.