Vintage Match-Up! Rolex Day-Date vs Tissot Le Locle

Tell Everyone You’ve Made It!

In todays Match-up! we are going to look at 2 solid 18kt yellow gold men’s dress watches that hail back to years long since gone.  On the one side we have a Rolex that needs no introduction, an example from 1969, the Rolex Day-Date 1803.  Our contender, also dressed in his very best belly button high trousers, is a Tissot Le Locle 666.330 which isn’t really vintage as its release is from the very earl 2000’s but in design and execution it might as well be!

Special shout out to CWC member RCSami who I purchased the Day-Date from and to CWC member Don Ginsler for the hand-made one of a kind green leather strap!

The Tissot Le Locle was imported from a trusted dealer on eBay, and the Rolex Day-Date was a trade with CWC member RCSami. 

Who’s it for?  These watches are for someone who wants a watch that signifies that “they’ve made it”, although due to the price points the 2 watches clearly signify two different levels of “I’ve made it”.  The Tissot says “I’ve made it” to just you with its quiet design while the Rolex screams it in everyone face, though this is somewhat muted due to the proliferation of larger sizes in this modern era.

TWC Paid:  Tissot $1,300.00 CAD ($960.00 USD) & Rolex $7,800.00 CAD ($5,760.00 USD)

@WatchConsumerTW
Tissot  
Model: Le Locle  
Reference: 666.330  
Origin: Switzerland  
Case: 35mm 18kt Yellow Gold
Height:10mm           Length: 41mm   Lugs: 18mm  
Movement: ETA 2892A2  
Crystal: Sapphire  
WR: N/A  
Lume: N/A  
Strap: After-market leather strap  
Website: Tissot.com
Rolex  
Model: Day-Date  
Reference: 1803  
Origin: Switzerland  
Case: 36mm 18kt Yellow Gold
Height: 12mm          Length: 44mm   Lugs: 20mm  
Movement: Rolex 1556  
Crystal: Domed Acrylic  
WR: 6 ATB – 6 Bar – 60m – 197ft  
Lume: Yes  
Strap: Hand-Made by Don Ginsler  
Website: Rolex.com

Finding this watch…

Ebay.com – $8,472.00 CAD – 1968 Rolex Day-Date 1803 – This version features a non-lume pie-pan dial on leather strap.  The nice thing is that without the solid gold bracelet the Day-Date’s price is significantly decreased.  Remember that the Day-Date has only ever been produced in precious metals which keep the prices high.

As easy as it is to come by various version of the Day-Date the Tissot Le Locle is surprisingly difficult to find.  You’ll see them on occasion being sold by various independents but finding a trusted source for one of these can be challenging.  It’s funny considering the value of the Day-Date that the Le Locle is actually the scarcer piece to acquire.

The Cross Shop:

Ebay.com – $4,035.00 CAD – Tudor Date-Day 76213 – If you’re looking for a Day-Date but don’t want to spend Day-Date money take a look at the Tudor Date-Day.  These can be had at a fraction of the price and being made in steel and with ETA movements helps keep the prices down.

Ebay.com – $3,595.00 USD – 1960’s Rolex DateJust 1603 – Old DateJust’s can be found EVERYWHERE and generally start around the $3k USD / $4,500 CAD price range.  If you’re looking for a vintage Rolex and prefer steel to all gold the DateJust offers lots of dials in different cases.

Ebay.com – $2,480.00 USD – Tudor Prince Date-Day 76200 – Tudor still makes these new but as unisex / ladies watches.  They also make a date only version in 41mm for a reasonable price.

@ WatchConsumerTW

Comparison…

Today’s Match-Up! Is really just for my own amusement and as an excuse to rock my vintage 36mm Day-Date.  So, shooting uphill without cover is a not so vintage 35mm Tissot Le Locle Automatic, a not so distant relative to the current Tissot Gold Run line.  I realize the demand for classically small men’s dress watches in precious metals is “weak” at best, but the Day-Date is a timeless watch that has, and continues to, signify when a person has, in life, “made it” in a big way.  This said, just owning a solid gold watch to most signifies that they’ve “made it”, especially in this era where anything outside of a digital watch or a mobile device is considered a luxury good. 

Let us how these two 18kt milestone markers stack up against each other!

1. Case:                                             Rolex

Both watches are solid 18kt yellow gold, regardless of whether one is from 1969 and the other from 2001 gold is gold.  All around the Day-Date is a much more substantial watch but back in 1969 the thin proportions of the Le Locle would have made it an attractive alternative to the brash thickness of the Day-Date.  Today however, 36mm watches are considered unisex and so the thicker case, the longer lugs and the tall crystal all make the Day-Date a much more wearable watch for todays consumer.  As many watch enthusiasts will say the 36-39mm watch range represents a sweet spot in sizing and will likely mean your watch will remain ageless. 

The Le Locle on the other hand, is featured in a 35mm case with narrow lugs, a flat sapphire crystal and a thin minimalist case with the bezel molded as a part of the case itself. It’s a very simple design all around and is definitely the quiet, understated professional.

How do you compete against the oyster case that has withstood the tests of time to date?  You don’t!  Wearing the Rolex, despite its small 36mm proportions, is much more of a statement visually than the simple Tissot.  If you’re the type of person that prefers a milestone / commemoration style of watch and would prefer that it didn’t scream at you like the Rolex then the design of the Tissot may be appealing.  In this era of bigger watches, sport watches and mobile devices however the oyster case of the Rolex STILL stands out as a winner.

@ WatchConsumerTW

2. Case Back:                                  Tissot

These old Rolex’s feature bubble back cases so the 1803 Day-Date is very comfortable, and of course gold always sits softly.  The Tissot keeps things simple and has alternative case back design that is screwed in place vice screwed.  I like the Tissot’s look.

3. Movement / Function: Rolex

Within the Tissot is a premium ETA automatic movement.  Like many other ETA’s I found the sound of the rotor going can be quite loud.  The nice things with ETA’s though is that their should always be parts reliably available for it and reasonable prices.  The Rolex on the other hand features its in-house 1556 movement with date and day complications.  These vintage Rolex movements are fantastic and run amazingly.  When you need it serviced you will need to have a guy as you won’t be able to bring it to an AD.  Nice thing with this though is that it should only cost you around $3-400 CAD ($225-300 USD) to be serviced vs the AD cost of $800-1000 CAD ($600-750 USD).  Even though the ETA has been around for over 15 years, the Rolex 1556 is just so great and has been be proven over the decades.

4. Lugs:                                 Tissot

While the oyster case is a beautiful design the soft edges of the lugs are simple and effective.  The Tissot has solid lugs that from head on look like wire lugs.  It’s a fun effect that works and I enjoy the look of wire lugs so you can have this one Tissot.

@ WatchConsumerTW

5. Crown:                              Rolex

Like every $20 90’s dress quartz, the Tissot has a oh so very typical crown.  It’s well cut and the head of it is box cut but it is just plain, bland and boring and even looks a little small.  The Rolex on the other can, while still no giant, flashy Onion, is well executed with grooves cut to match the fluted bezel and a Rolex crown on the head.  An added feature and one I would love to have on EVERY watch, is that the crown is screw down. For 1969 I feel like this is just so awesome.

6. Bezel & Rehaut:             Rolex

The Rolex is fluted, the Tissot is a narrow and smooth.  The fluted bezel is so iconic and will make anyone think “Rolex”. 

7. Dial:                                   Tie

Considering how simple the Rolex dial is it still strikes me as “busy”.  The outer ring has lume plots in-line with raised, rectangular, flat gold indices and they offer great function along with remaining classy.  The gold crown is a nice upgrade from the printed ones found on Rolex sport models.  The watch stands out for its full-size day window at the 12 o’clock and I always think it looks sharp when compared to the DateJust. 

The Tissot takes a straightforward approach with a very traditional design.  From some angles the gold dial looks almost like a linen dial; it’s a nice finish and the contrast of it to the high polish hands allow you to catch the time immediately.

The Rolex dial is a bit busy given the smaller case size where the Tissot’s is so traditional dress watch.  I’m going to leave the dial category as a tie.

8. Hands:                              Rolex

Like the big, bold index indices of the dial, the Rolex’s hands are equally brash.  The nice thing with this is that the hour and minutes are so large and because of this they fit a strip of lume each.  The Day-Date comes in lots of different dials, and years, but with the gold-on-gold the hands get a little washed out at first glance.  Now the Tissot has simple high polish gold hands that are obvious immediately.  The way Rolex has added lume strips to be the minute and hour hand without looking out of place is smartly done and wins this category for Rolex.

9. Lume:                                Rolex

The two greatest words in the English language: DE-FAULT!

@ WatchConsumerTW

10. Crystal:                           Tie

The Rolex’s domed, acrylic crystal with date cyclops or the flat clinically cold sapphire of the Tissot.  The Tissot’s will probably never need replacing as it’s so recessed you’ll likely never chip it but the Rolex’s will slowly start to rack up wear marks; it’ll never chip along the edges since its plastic and it’s easy to source replacements but again, you’ll need to find your own watch repair guy.

11. Strap:                              Rolex

20mm vs 18mm. Stock vs After-market.  Straps style is preference and while their’s nothing wrong with the plain style of the Tissot’s, the aggressive weight of the forest green hand-made strap on the Rolex is unique and I feel matches really well with the bold features of the Rolex.  I also matched up the Rolex with after-market ends for a more traditional brown leather strap.

@ WatchConsumerTW

12. Gravitas / Presence:   Tie

This is pretty simple; If you want to be the guy that doesn’t just have a Rolex but has a solid gold Rolex then the obvious choice is Rolex.  But if you want to reward yourself in life but don’t want to wave it in other’s faces?  Well then the Tissot has its place on your wrist.

Ultimately, I know how I feel about both watches, and I know how my wife feels about both, so this category ends in a stalemate!

13. Wife:                                Rolex

She would like option C if she could but that’s not how this works so the masculine stance of the Rolex wins this one. 

“Fine, the bigger one [Rolex] is nicer; I could wear this one [Tissot]!”

Continue to our Wife’s Take segment for all of her thoughts on this old timer Match-up!

@ WatchConsumerTW

Final Thoughts…

It’s arguable (by me) that these two watches are playing in the same field but here we are.  If you’ve made it and want to reward yourself or want to commemorate a special occasion without spending a “large” amount? Then Tissot.  If you want to make a statement to everyone around you that “you’ve made it” while retaining a degree of classiness, read “not diamond and emerald blinged out”, the 36mm Day-Date is the watch for you.

Final Score…

Let’s run the numbers and put aside the, time, place and style arguments and let the score talk.

Continue reading by checking out my discussion with my Wife and see what her take on these 2 golden gems.

@ WatchConsumerTW

3 thoughts on “Vintage Match-Up! Rolex Day-Date vs Tissot Le Locle

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