Founded in 1853 and in nearly continuous production ever since, Tissot is one of the oldest surviving watch manufactures, sporting a back catalog replete with highly collectible wristwatches. In the minds of many collectors, the golden age of Tissot was during the mid-20th century, shortly after the company merged with Omega and Lemania to form the partnership Société Suisse pour l’Industrie Horlogère, or SSIH. This partnership lasted until 1983, when SSIH and other watchmakers were brought together under the umbrella of the Swatch Group.
During the 1930s, 40s and 50s, Omega and Tissot were producing some of the finest chronographs available on the market. Their partner, Lemania, was an expert in fine mechanical chronographs, and together they developed the Caliber 33.3, which has become one of the most valuable and sought after chronographs amongst collectors due to their quality and rarity. Omega Caliber 33.3 models can command tens of thousands of dollars, relative bargains compared to contemporary options from brands such as Patek Philippe.
Luckily, there’s a trick to getting a Calibre 33.3 on your wrist without breaking the bank. Since Tissot, Omega and Lemania were all the same company during this period, you can buy what is essentially a re-labeled Omega for a fraction of the price by going with the Tissot version! This particular Tissot even has Omega.s name on the dial, as it was co-branded for the South American market.
This example has a gorgeous black dial (if you’re seeking an Omega 33.3 with the same, you’d better come loaded for bear!), which in itself makes this a special watch, but our favorite feature has to be the hinged lugs. Very comfortable on the wrist, they’re just downright cool and ooze vintage charm.This watch is in incredible original condition for its age, and it likely saw little wrist time – likely due to its special history.
Typically when we see a case back engraving, it’s usually just a few boring initials, but that’s not the case here. This watch was gifted to David “Russihno” Russowski by the Brazilian soccer club Sport Club Internacional, which was one of the most successful South American teams at the time. This watch stayed in the collection of the Russowski family up until very recently, and we’re thrilled to see it come to market after so long. If you’re a soccer fan, this Tissot is also a fantastic piece of historical memorabilia.
Tissot may not have as much name recognition among the masses as Omega, but savvy collectors wouldn’t have it any other way. Tissots remains an outright bargain compared with their Omega cousins, and it’s next to impossible to find a better vintage chronograph for the money.
To learn more about Tissot, visit our friends at Worn & Wound, HERE.