When talking about the affordable Swiss-made chronographs, it’s not exactly a crowded space – especially for mechanical options costing less than $100. This is mostly because staying inside this threshold is impossible for Valjoux-made calibers – essentially the industry’s most widely used, and most economical chronograph standard. But for fake Rolex brands, their access to the broad spectrum of manufacturing resources in the Swatch portfolio has made them a prime contender for lowering the barrier of entry for Swiss-made automatics – and that includes chronographs, thanks to the C01.211 movement found in the Tissot V8 Automatic Chronograph.
Different from the majority of Tissot’s automatic chronograph options, which use a 3-6-9 register layout, the V8 is framed with the 6-9-12 layout, similar to the famed Lemania 5100 caliber. But the layout isn’t the only thing that the V8’s C01.211 movement has in common with Lemania. In fact, the movement itself was made along many of the same parameters – utility, cost-effectiveness, and reliability. These were all features that made the 5100 the movement of choice for applications spanning military, space, and motorsport, which has absolutely earned it somewhat of status in watch-making lore.
Enough about the C01.211, though. While the movement and the price point combine to create a compelling offering, what’s of perhaps equal (or greater) importance is what’s on the outside, and fortunately, the V8 is a nice-looking sports chronograph replica that manages to toe the line between ‘modern’ and ‘classic’ without resorting to riffing on icons like the Daytona or Speedmaster.
The dial itself exhibits some nice texture and depth – like the faceted hands which match the hourly indices, or the subtly grained dial surface, which contrasts a set of polished circular surrounds on the 12 and 6:00 registers. There’s also a noble attempt at producing symmetry between the running seconds sub-dial at 9:00 and the wordmark and date at 3:00. Both combine to create a slight degree of negative space that, at a glance, almost looks like a bi-complex chronograph, which is a nice effect.
Despite carrying a 45mm diameter, the V8 Chronograph still feels relatively well-proportioned -greatly thanks to its relatively short 45mm lug-to-lug distance. It’s also thick, but not overly so – the latter of which is a well-documented characteristic of the Valjoux-built chronograph movements. Seeing as it’s been less than ten years since the C01.211 first started appearing in replica Tissot watches, it’s a little too early to speak for its long-term lifespan, but simple, affordable choices like the V8 Automatic series should go a long way towards solidifying the movement’s place in manufacture history for all the replica watches.