Review: The Tissot Le Locle Automatique Regulateur, your first fine watch.

Tissot’s story is one of innovation and refinement. Tissot is that little watch house founded in 1853, when a father who fitted gold cases, and his son, a watchmaker, founded the manufacture to make pocketwatches. Since that time, Tissot has made a number of firsts and grown up to be a part of the biggest watchmaking group on this earth. Today, we’re looking at the Tissot Le Locle Automatic Regulateur.

The Le Locle Regulateur is a part of the Le Locle series of watches, named after Tissot’s home in the Swiss Jura mountains. These are the watches that honor Tissot’s history as a watchmaker. The Regulateur is a watch that replicates the function of the regulator clock that used to be a requirement in the manufacture, by separating the hour, and minute hands into a vertically arranged set of separate dials, so that they would all line up at 12 o’clock. In those early times, when Tissot was founded, pocketwatches were not nearly so accurate as today, and minutes were the smallest resolution they could record.

Tissot does this arranging of the hands in the dial beautifully. The dial has different layers, textures, decorating it, with a horizontal bridge that carries the dial text, and places the date window at the 9 o’clock position. The markers are applied Roman numerals and batons, and the hands are teardrop shaped. But all these words don’t really convey the appearance. Let’s go to a picture:

The movement is an ETA 2825-2, a variation on the 2824-2 used to separate out the hands for the regulator. The movement is housed behind a sapphire display back, that interestingly has a steel horizontal bridge covering the center of the movement – mirroring the bridge on the dial side of things. The watch ships in three different configurations,

  • black dial, on black leather, with a deployant clasp (classic black)
  • silver dial, on 7 link stainless bracelet (modern steel)
  • two tone gold PVD on two tone 7 link bracelet (fashionable yellow)

tissot-le-locle-regulator-4Those model names are Tissot’s, not mine. I find that I strongly preferred the classic black model we had in for review, even though I normally prefer a bracelet over a leather strap. Despite the all back dial, I found it very legible. There’s no lume, and it’s rated to 3ATM, suitable for washing hands – this is not a diver. This isn’t a detriment, not at all. I found myself reaching for this watch first during all the time it was in for review (unless I was headed for a swim.)

The silver batons look black in some light, silver in others.

This is a watch that can hold its own in social situations well above its price point. Friends wearing Patek, MB&F, and Bulgari all wanted to see it, liked the dial detail, and had complimentary things to say about the regulator implementation. These are people who like watches for what they are, not necessarily for whose brand is signed on the dial, and it was a small pleasure that a $795 USD watch was a discussion starter among men wearing pieces in a different universe as far as price were concerned. Good people, good watches, and a timepiece on your wrist that brings a smile to your face. What else is there?

Watch Overview

  • Brand & Model: Tissot Le Locle Automatique Regulateur T006.428.16.058.02
  • Price: $795 as reviewed, $850 in Modern Steel, $950 in PVD Bi-color gold
  • Who we think it might be for: You like a classy, dressy watch, without blowing your emergency fund.
  • Would I buy one for myself based on what I’ve seen?: I liked this one quite a lot. Yes, I did. Honestly, every time my brother-in-law asks for a recommendation for a good Swiss watch, I end up showing him Tissot’s catalogue or going to a Tissot authorized dealer.
  • If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: consider the date wheel matching the dial color on the black model
  • What spoke to me the most about this watch: Understated beauty. You really need to get up on the dial to see how detailed it is.

Tech Specs from Tissot

  • Case size: 39.3mm
  • Height: 11.55mm
  • Case material: steel (brushed, rose gold, or black finishes available)
  • Crystal: flat, sapphire
  • Strap: leather and alligator, deployant clasp
  • Movement: Swiss-made ETA 2825-2 calibre