Let’s Go Racing

The connection between Tissot and the world of car racing traces its origins to a poignant moment in 1958 when the Swiss driver, Harry Zweifel, forged a meaningful bond with the renowned watchmaker. This pivotal episode unfolded when Zweifel, expressing his deep affinity for Tissot, sent the company a personally signed photograph accompanied by the heartfelt inscription: “Meine Tissot ist an jedem Rennen dabei” (“My Tissot is by my side at every race”).

In this evocative gesture, Zweifel not only showcased his genuine appreciation for Tissot timepieces but also underscored the pivotal role the brand played in his racing endeavours. The inscription captures the sentiment that his Tissot watch was a steadfast companion, accompanying him through the exhilarating and challenging moments of every race. This heartfelt connection between the Swiss driver and Tissot laid the foundation for a lasting partnership, marking the beginning of a story where precision timekeeping and the adrenaline-fueled world of car racing seamlessly converged.

Monte Carlo to F1 to Le Mans

The enthralling narrative of Tissot’s association with car racing continued to evolve with each passing milestone. In 1968, the esteemed rally pilot Henry Bradley, deeply enamoured with his Tissot PR 516, went beyond the conventional bounds of appreciation. Bradley inscribed the name of his cherished timepiece directly onto his Ferrari, a testament to the inseparable connection he felt with his Tissot watch in the high-stakes world of rally racing.

The year 1973 marked a significant chapter in Tissot’s racing history, as the brand ventured into the prestigious Monte Carlo rally, aligning itself with the formidable team Alpine. The sponsorship proved to be an auspicious move, as Alpine’s “Berlinettes” clinched all three podium positions and five of the top six spots, propelling the team to a resounding victory in the World Rally Championship that year.

Tissot’s commitment to racing excellence extended further into the late 1970s and early 1980s when the brand proudly sponsored Team Renault Alpine. This partnership encompassed illustrious events like the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Formula 1, solidifying Tissot’s presence in the most prestigious racing arenas.

In 1977, Alpine made a notable foray into Formula 1, coincidentally emerging as the pioneering brand to introduce a turbo engine to the competition. The accomplished driver, Jean-Pierre Jabouille, led the charge for Alpine in 1977 and 1978, showcasing the brand’s emblematic commitment to pushing the boundaries of automotive innovation.

The zenith of Renault Alpine’s racing prowess came in the 1980 season, notably during the Brazilian Grand Prix. A Renault RE20, adorned with Tissot lettering on the front, emerged victorious, securing the first-place finish and the fastest lap for driver Arnoux, alongside pole position for Jabouille. The following year, in 1981, the esteemed Alain Prost took the reins from Jabouille, further solidifying Tissot’s legacy within the elite realms of Formula 1. This rich tapestry of racing history underscores Tissot’s enduring dedication to precision, innovation, and the relentless pursuit of victory on the track.

“Wild Thing”

“The collection of fast-paced watches. Tissot PR 516 with GT bracelet A case ring made of special material and a flexible seal (Exclusive to Tissot) protect the movement from shocks and strong vibrations. An armored glass embedded in the case and held in place by a tension ring as well as a special seal on the winding crown guarantee good watertightness. So if you ever go swimming, the PR 516 goes with you.”

Photograph from JimJupiter – https://omegaforums.net/threads/vintage-tissot-resources.88078/

TISSOT PR 516 Chronograph

  • Waterproof
  • Ref. 40526
  • Stainless steel case with GT strap
  • Order no. 2543-3 DM 290-
  • Tachymeter + Pulsometer
  • Minute counter

In 1970 the Deutsche Mark was worth about 0.24 USD. This converts the price of this watch to 69.6 USD. If we take into account inflation that puts at a value today of 565.36 USD. What a bargain! The closest relation in the modern Tissot catalogue is the Heritage 1973 coming in at 2,779 USD.

PR (Particularly Resistant)

In the year 1965, Tissot drew inspiration from the exhilarating realm of car racing competitions, leading to the introduction of the groundbreaking Tissot PR 516. This exceptional timepiece was not only a testament to innovative design but also a nod to the intricate details found in the world of racing. The unique bracelet of the watch, featuring meticulously crafted holes, drew a striking parallel to the steering wheel of high-performance racing cars.

This pioneering creation by Tissot, the world’s first of its kind, quickly became a trendsetter, setting a benchmark that numerous other watch brands sought to emulate. The bracelet’s distinct design, reminiscent of the dynamic aesthetics of steering wheels, became an iconic feature in the horological landscape.

Beyond its aesthetic allure, the Tissot PR 516 was engineered with a focus on resilience and durability. The watch boasted a sophisticated suspended movement, providing unparalleled protection against both axial and lateral shocks. The nomenclature “PR” in Tissot PR 516 stood for “Particularly Resistant,” underscoring the watch’s robust construction and its ability to withstand the rigours of demanding environments.

In essence, the Tissot PR 516 was a trailblazer in the world of timekeeping, seamlessly merging style with substance and innovation with functionality. Its legacy endures not only as a symbol of Tissot’s commitment to excellence but also as a timeless embodiment of the thrilling spirit of car racing.

Black, White and Red All Over?

The Tissot PR516 Chronograph, a true embodiment of 70s style, stands out with its distinctive features that capture the essence of the era. Encased in a robust and chunky steel case, this timepiece exudes a bold and assertive presence. The flat black dial serves as a canvas for the retro design elements, and it’s complemented by rarely seen curved square subdials, adding a touch of uniqueness to the overall aesthetic.

One of the striking design elements of this chronograph is the vibrant pops of colour that infuse energy into the timepiece. The luminous orange chronograph hand and the running minute’s hand not only enhance legibility but also contribute to the watch’s dynamic visual appeal. The minutes subdial, surrounded in a rich red hue, features the obligatory 5-minute mark filled in a lush blue, creating a captivating interplay of colours on the dial.

A distinctive characteristic of the Tissot PR516 is its two-tone bezel, a design choice not commonly seen in other timepieces of its era. The compound of black and white on the bezel adds a touch of contrast and visual interest. It’s noteworthy that the bezel is believed to be crafted from bakelite, a material that, over time, may show signs of wear and constant rubbing. This characteristic contributes to the unique patina of many examples, with some featuring barely legible numbers or having been polished to a blank finish, either by the passage of time or the efforts of an overly enthusiastic polisher.

Engaging in a bit of horological trivia, there is some debate about the markings on certain elapsed minutes on the subdials. Interestingly, these markings were often used as a practical aid in an era when payphones were prevalent. The wearer could reference these markers to keep track of the elapsed time while making phone calls.

The Tissot PR516 Chronograph not only boasts a distinctive design but also incorporates practical elements that speak to its functionality and durability. Its reinforced acrylic crystal, equipped with a tension ring, reflects a feature commonly found on early ‘waterproof’ watches. This design choice not only enhances the vintage aesthetic but also serves a crucial purpose in providing additional protection against the elements. The watch goes further in its commitment to water resistance by incorporating seals on the crown and under the caseback, effectively minimizing the risk of water ingress and ensuring the watch’s longevity.

The chronograph pushers, the levers that engage the Lemania movement to perform its intricate functions, are notable for their prominent and clear positioning on the case. This design choice not only contributes to the watch’s overall visual appeal but also ensures practicality in operation. The pushers offer a firm, tactile response, striking a balance between ease of use and providing just the right amount of resistance, adding to the tactile pleasure of operating the chronograph.

Engaging the chronograph reveals the marvel of the Lemania movement at work. The chronograph hand ticks around the dial an impressive 5 times per second, showcasing the high frequency of the movement. This not only contributes to the watch’s accurate timekeeping but also adds a dynamic and visually captivating element to the chronograph function.

Remarkably accurate for its age, the Tissot PR516 Chronograph excels in general daily timekeeping. The precision of the Lemania movement, combined with the watch’s overall design and construction, ensures impeccable timekeeping performance. This blend of functionality, precision, and vintage charm makes the Tissot PR516 Chronograph a timeless piece that not only captures the spirit of the 70s but also stands as a testament to Tissot’s commitment to both form and function.


A pulseometer bezel on a chronograph watch is a specialized feature designed to help measure a person’s heart rate. To use a pulsometer bezel, follow these steps:

  1. Understand the Pulseometer Scale: The pulseometer scale on the bezel typically ranges from 15 to 300. The numbers represent the beats per minute (BPM) or the number of heartbeats you count in one minute.
  2. Find a Pulse Point: Locate a pulse point on the body, such as your wrist or neck. The most common pulse points are on the inner side of the wrist, just below the base of the thumb, or on your neck, beside the windpipe.
  3. Activate the Chronograph: Start the chronograph function on your watch. This is usually done by pressing the chronograph pusher (button) located on the side of the watch.
  4. Count Heartbeats: As you feel your pulse, count the number of beats indicated on the pulseometer scale. For example, if the base pulsations are shown as 15, count that many and then…
  5. Stop the Chronograph: Stop the chronograph when you’ve counted the desired number of heartbeats.
  6. Read Heart Rate: Read the corresponding heart rate on the pulseometer scale where the chronograph second hand stopped. The value indicates the heart rate in beats per minute.


A tachymeter on a chronograph watch is a feature that allows you to measure speed based on time elapsed over a fixed distance.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use the tachymeter scale on a chronograph watch:

  1. Understand the Tachymeter Scale: The tachymeter scale is usually located on the outer edge of the watch dial or on the bezel. It consists of numbers typically ranging from 60 to 500, representing units of speed, such as kilometres or miles per hour.
  2. Activate the Chronograph: Start the chronograph function on your watch by pressing the chronograph pusher (button). This initiates the movement of the chronograph second-hand.
  3. Choose a Reference Point: Decide on a reference point, such as a mile marker on a highway or any fixed distance. You’ll use this distance to measure the speed.
  4. Stop the Chronograph: Stop the chronograph when the event (e.g., a car or a person) you are timing reaches the chosen reference point. The chronograph hand will point to a specific position on the tachymeter scale.
  5. Read the Tachymeter Scale: The number on the tachymeter scale where the chronograph hand points corresponds to the speed of the object in the chosen unit per hour. For example, if the hand points to 120 on the scale, it means the object is moving at 120 units (e.g., kilometres or miles) per hour.
  6. Calculating Speed: If the chronograph hand points to a number other than one of the scale’s predefined markings (e.g., 400 or 500), you can calculate the speed by dividing the fixed distance by the elapsed time in hours. For example, if the chronograph hand points to a position between 60 and 80 on the scale after covering a 1-mile distance, and it took 20 seconds, the speed would be (1 / 20) x 3600 = 180 miles per hour.

It’s important to note that the tachymeter scale is most accurate for measuring speeds that result in the chronograph hand completing one full rotation within the timeframe of interest (e.g., 60 seconds). Additionally, this method is more suitable for objects with constant speed over the measured distance.

Lemania 870

The Lemania 870 chronograph movement stands as a revered and iconic calibre in the realm of watchmaking, celebrated for its precision, durability, and historical significance. Lemania, a Swiss watchmaking company with a storied heritage dating back to the 19th century, has played a pivotal role in crafting movements that have adorned some of the most esteemed timepieces in the industry.

The Lemania 870, introduced in the mid-20th century, is a manual-winding chronograph movement known for its exceptional craftsmanship and technical prowess. It embodies the traditional elegance of mechanical watchmaking, featuring a column wheel mechanism, which is highly regarded for its smooth and precise operation. The column wheel serves as the control centre for the chronograph function, ensuring a tactile and responsive feel when engaging the stopwatch.

One of the distinctive characteristics of the Lemania 870 is its modular construction, making it a versatile choice for various watch models. Its modular design allows for easy integration into different watch cases, demonstrating Lemania’s engineering ingenuity and adaptability. This feature has contributed to the movement’s widespread use by several renowned watch brands, further cementing its legacy in the horological landscape.

Furthermore, the Lemania 870 boasts a high level of finishing and attention to detail, showcasing the artistry that defines Swiss watchmaking. The movement often features a traditional Breguet hairspring, enhancing its precision and reliability. The Lemania 870 has been a preferred choice for both vintage and modern timepieces, attracting collectors and enthusiasts who appreciate the blend of classic design and technical excellence.

Beyond its technical merits, the Lemania 870 has a historical resonance, having powered watches worn by astronauts during space missions. Its robust construction and reliability made it a fitting choice for space exploration, attesting to the calibre’s durability and ability to withstand extreme conditions.

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