Tissot Revives the PR516 Chronograph with a Hand-Wind Movement

A facelift of the 1968 original.

Tissot has enjoyed a streak of appealingly affordable vintage-inspired models ranging from the PRX Digital to the distinctive Sideral. Now, the brand has turned to a sports chronograph from the archives, the PR516 Chronograph. Drawing inspiration from the 1968 model, the PR516 has been given an update with a larger case, sapphire-covered bezel, and a manual-wind Valjoux movement.

Initial thoughts 

Like the Heuer Carrera and Rolex Daytona, the PR516 Chronograph is a motorsports racing chronograph of the 1960s and 1970s. But unlike its famous, and perhaps iconic, counterparts, the PR516 is hardly known. Despite being under the radar, the original does have a recognisable and appealing 1970s style. That’s been reworked slightly to transform it into the new PR516.

The watch isn’t a replica of the original, because it has modern dimensions. In fact, it is chunky and quite thick, dimensions arguably suitable for a modern sports watch. The dial has also been tweaked slightly and now has less text, while the registers are cleaner. For now, the new dial is available only in the same colour as the original, black, though variants are likely if this sells well.

With a price tag of US$1,850, the PR516 Chronograph is a value proposition. This is apparent when it’s compared with offerings from micro-brands like as Farer and Excelsior Park, which rely on comparable movements (typically Sellita) but cost a third more.

A modern facelift

The PR516 is the latest addition to Tissot’s longstanding PR collection, short for “particularly robust”. The PR line started with the PR 516 of 1965, a time-and-date model that was 16th model in the brand’s fifth water-resistant range of watches.

In 1968, the brand introduced a chronograph version of the PR 516. Sporting a design typical of the era, it featured a three-register black dial with blocky hands and indices along with accents in blue and red. It was powered by the Lemania 873, a relative of the calibre famous for being in the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch. 

An example of the PR 516 Chronograph from 1970. Image – Tissot Museum

The new PR516 preserves the design of the original with modest improvements. The brand’s logo and model name have been replaced with the current insignia, resulting in a cleaner appearance. The white rings on the registers have been replaced with raised metallic-finish silver border, while the coloured accents have been preserved. However, orange is now employed for the hands instead of red.

The brushed steel case features pump-style pushers, a screw-down crown, and a bezel with both tachymetric and pulsometric scales under a sapphire crystal insert. Super Luminova is applied to the bezel markings as well as the baton-shaped hour indices and hands.

Measuring 41 mm wide and 13.7 mm high, the PR516 has modern dimensions that are noticeably larger than the original, which was just 36 mm across.

Visible through the sapphire back is the A05.291, a manually-wound movement based on the Valjoux 7753. That in turn is essentially a Valjoux 7750 with the automatic winding mechanism removed. It’s an industrial calibre with decoration, but the no-frills aesthetics suits the style and price of the watch.

Enhanced by a magnetism-resistant Nivachron hairspring and an adjustable-mass balance wheel, the A05.291 has a power reserve of 68 hours, compared to about 48 hours for the stock 7753.

Key facts and price

Tissot PR516 Chronograph Mechanical
Ref. T149.459.21.051.00

Diameter: 41 mm
Height: 13.7 mm
Material: Steel
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: Valjoux A05.291
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds and chronograph
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Manual wing
Power reserve: 68 hours

Strap: Steel bracelet with folding clasp

Availability: At Tissot boutiques and retailers
Price: US$1,850, or 2,620 Singapore dollars

For more, visit Tissotwatches.com.


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