The middle-market luxury watch brands owned by the Swatch Group such as Hamilton, Tissot, Longines, Mido, and Certina are delivering some of the best values in mechanical watches today, and oddly, few people who like watches are noticing. Not only are many of these brands selling online – though without much supporting marketing – but they are working hard to strike a balance of quality and price that makes mid-range collectors happy. On that note, let’s take a look at the Tissot Heritage 1936 Mechanical reference T104.405.16.012.00 wrist watch, and the replica Tissot Bridgeport Lepine Mechanical reference T860.405.29.032.01, and T860.405.29.032.00 (different dial color) pocket watch.
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These two products aren’t per se related, but they do share similar aesthetic themes and very similar movements. They also both happen to be both priced at under $1,000. The Tissot Heritage 1936 Mechanical watch is based on the the way many historic wrist watches looked at a time when they were transitioning from the pocket to the wrist. It starts with a round, 45mm-wide case in polished steel with wire-style lugs typical of how early wrist watches looked. This was because early wrist watches were really just pocket watches with lugs soldered to them.
This early wrist watch theme continues in the Tissot Heritage 1936 series best replica watches with the hunter-style caseback which is hinged and opens to reveal a view of the movement. Hinged casebacks are purely a vestige of pocket watches designed as primitive means to protect them. Today, some wrist watches have this feature as a design quirk in order to add a little bit of fun and mystery to their timepiece.
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I have to admit it is fun taking off your wrist watch and handing it to someone only to then have the caseback flip open offering a view of the movement. Suffice it to say that on modern watches when you open the caseback there is a sapphire crystal in place to still actually protect the movement – it was not always like that in the past, of course. I’ll also add that the case is water-resistant to 50 meters.
At 45mm wide and 12.98mm thick Tissot copy watches, the Tissot Heritage 1936 is actually large enough to be a pocket watch. In fact, the movement inside of it (a variant of the UNITAS) began its life based on the architecture of a mechanical pocket watch movement in the 1950s. The movement is the Swiss ETA 6498-1 which operates at a steady 18,000bph (2.5Hz) with a power reserve of about 46 hours.
At Baselworld 2016, I had a sneak peak at this new limited edition Zenith Heritage Cronometro Tipo CP-2 replica watches that is based on a set of 2,500 timepieces Zenith made for the Italian military via a local distributor known as A. Cairelli in the 1960s. This particular style of military chronograph pilot watch was a design not unique to Zenith, and in recent years a similar model produced by Heuer – Leonidas from the same era has been on a lot of people’s minds. I’ll get to that in a moment.
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While the vintage-reissue watch trend is thankfully slowing down a bit, that doesn’t mean there aren’t still a lot of good lessons from the past that can be used to create delights for watch collectors today. With this 1,000-piece limited edition, solid value, and good looks, I think the Zenith Heritage Cronometro Tipo CP-2 is going to be quite popular.
The Zenith Heuer best fake watches I am referring to is known as the Heuer Bundeswehr 1550SG Flyback Chronograph, and I’ve seen them in various conditions around the world. There are a number of variations of this collection of watches out there, and their prices can vary from a few thousand to almost $10,000 depending on the condition and rarity. In addition to offering sober good looks, one of the reasons these military-style pilot watches are popular is their size. Unlike many vintage watches which wear quite small for today’s tastes, the original Cronometro Tipo CP-2 as well as the Heuer – Leonidas Bundeswehr had cases which are 43mm wide, with a nice-looking rotating timing bezel. That means this set of watches is among the few vintage sport watches that wear like modern watches.
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The new limited edition Zenith Heritage Cronometro Tipo CP-2 copy watch is also 43mm wide, 12.85mm thick and comes in a polished steel case with a legible, sober-looking vintage pilot watch dial complete with bi-compax 30-minute chronograph. The bezel insert looks to be aluminum, and over the dial is an AR-coated sapphire crystal. There aren’t too many watches that look like this sold today, but you can of course get some out there from brands such as Sinn, Dodane, etc. Zenith adds its customary level of refinement and some flair, making this one of my top choices out there. The dial design is also very elegant. I sort of see this as a “budget” Breguet Type XXI given the overall feeling on the wrist as well as the design of the numerals. Both the watches have a similar design theme heritage.