Hairsprings made of silicon, or silicium in Francophone watch-speak, were usually a feature found only in pricier watches, often costing US$5000 or more. At Baselworld 2017, Tissot has changed that with the Ballade Powermatic 80 that starts at just US$925, a sterling example of what industrial production can accomplish – Tissot is the Switzerland’s largest maker of watches, with an output of some 4m or about 15% of the nation’s total production.
The Powermatic 80 movement, or more precisely the calibre C07.811 Si, is a heavily souped up ETA 2824, the no-frills workhorse movement found in many affordable watches. While the basic ETA 2824 has a 38 hour power reserve, the Powermatic 80 will run for 80 hours, or just over three days. And because the movement is regulated by machine when put together, there’s no need for a regulator index, a feature that’s no doubt derived from the technology inside the Sistem51 made by Swatch, Tissot’s sister company.
But the highlight is the hairspring made of silicon (more specifically, silicon with an oxide layer), a material that is immune to magnetism and ambient temperature changes, as well as being lightweight and robust. Though silicon is more fragile than metal when handled, replacing silicon parts is swift and low-cost, since they are produced by the hundreds in what is akin to a high-tech printer.
The Ballade Powermatic 80 is also a COSC-certified chronometer, which in practice means little but a welcome extra at this price point.
Visually the Ballade is much less interesting than the technical features inside alas. The case is stainless steel, decorated with a hobnail pattern on the bezel and dial. The Ballade is available in two sizes each for men and women: the Ballade Gent (39mm or 41mm) and the Ballade Lady (30.6mm or 32mm).
Price and availability
Available from Tissot retailers and boutiques, the Ballade starts at US$925 or S$1380 for the Ballade Gent in steel with a leather strap. The other versions cost slightly more.
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