While Tissot has done a great job with some of their Heritage series (such as The Navigator) there are timepieces that represent their era so well that remaking them only produces expensive anachronisms. This 70s Tissot PR516 GL should have been left alone. It is thick, chunky, oddly angled, and just about everything else awesome about pieces from the 70s. The remake is just not the same, and while the movement was certainly improved, some design elements were eliminated, and the metal band they chose to go with really did a disservice to the overall aesthetic.
I got this watch in relatively good external condition but not running and in need of a service. One of the major things for me with watches with a “grained” finish like this one is to always check for signs of polishing. If it has been polished it will never look the same (unless a specialist works on it but the cost of that relative to this watch is nonsensical.) Although there are some dings and scratches, the original grain is present and perfectly matches that of the band. The dial was also in great condition under the badly mangled crystal above. I knew that all back together it would be a fantastic finished piece that had that perfect and unmistakable “stuck in time” look to it.
The great thing about vintage Tissot is that they almost all use similar calibers. They are well built, easy to service, and run like champions. The only bad thing about them is the lack of a quickset day and date on some models.
The dial, hands, and tension ring all together create an interesting 3D layering that I had not seen prior to working on this watch. The minute hand passes underneath the tension ring’s notches to create a unique sense of depth to the watch. This touch appears to have been taken away in the re-issue.
Finally, the band very well matches the feel of the head. The same cannot be said for the new heritage re-issue. My call for a heritage series would have been a thinned down version of this classic piece with the same band style rather than the “racing” bands.
Rolex is loved because they have never really change their impeccable and timeless designs, but brands that were willing to design pieces meant for their era deserve their credit as well. While this watch is way too big to work on my wrist, it is certainly a timepiece that I can appreciate.
To polish or not to polish is a tough decision that is not made lightly. Proper case work is a delicate and time-consuming process that can enhance the appearance of a watch and bring a neglected or battered watch back to life. Unfortunately a generation of unscrupulous jewelers and watchmakers decided that force plus a polishing wheel equaled a polish job. The problem with this approach is that it removes too much material and deforms the original lines and case patterns. It also produces a horrific surface that is flat and shiny but reflects light in several different directions creating the dreaded “over polished” look. This most recent piece was an example of a watch that suffered bad polishing and then a rough wearer. The Seamaster logo and “waterproof” had been mostly polished out of the caseback, while the front was clearly the victim of years of abusive wear. Even with this history, its rose gold dial and hands remained very well intact and stand out as a great contrast to the life outside the case.
If you look at this full size image you can just make out the Omega logo that has been polished almost entirely out
After a great deal of thought I came to the conclusion that there are two kinds of vintage watches: collector pieces and wearer pieces. When buying and servicing collector pieces, the goal is to absolutely minimize your impact and preserve the originality of the piece inside and out. With wearer pieces the goal is to restore a watch to the best of your ability to its original beauty. While I am a strong believer that reluming and redialing ruin a watch, case work can go a huge way in really bringing a piece back to life for a wearer. I made the decision to let this one be until it goes to a new owner. That new owner can make the decision that makes them happy.
This Omega 471 is a great example of one of the first automatic calibers that Omega produced. It is a fantastic piece of history that deserved a new lease on life. Unfortunately the last person to attempt this believed that Omega parts are more interchangeable than Omega lets on. This led to a slightly more costly restoration, but it was entirely worth it.
After a full disassembly, cleaning, reassembling, and oiling the movement was running crazy fast (+180-230 seconds per day.) My first instinct was to start at the power source, the mainspring. I replaced the mainspring, but still the rate was incredibly high. Then I took a long hard look at the balance and just felt that something wasn’t right. I took out a Caliber 500 movement I had and found the hairsprings to be identical. It was then I realized that this wrong heart so to speak was the cause of the problem. After getting the proper balance and installing it I regulated the watch to +/-3 seconds per day in all positions.
The 470 and the 471 were the first two automatics that Omega produced
Back together; it is stunning even in its unpolished state. The rose gold dial and hands are unique and are a beautiful contrast to the stainless case. Although small by today’s standards, it is a great piece from the early days of Omega automatics.