Tissot Astrolon 1971

Sistem 51, the missing link from forty years ago

The Astrolon 2250 by Tissot housed the avant-garde movement SYTAL – an acronym for “Système Total AutoLubrification” – that was developed some forty years ago.

By Joel Grandjean

In an article from 1973, the JSH – Journal Suisse d’Horlogerie –described the Astrolon by Tissot as follows: “ A quality watch of simplified production in line with the economic requirements of the moment”. Such an incredibly timeless statement might as well have been pronounced by Nicolas Hayek Junior at the launch of the Sistem 51. Furthermore, both the article and the description of the watch made patent another issue: we will do anything to avoid using the ever-diminishing term “plastic”. This is as true today as it was then. For example, we commonly see in watch descriptions terms like polycarbonate, copolymerized acetaldehyde resin or polyoxymethylene. These complicated words were used in the description of the Astrolon 2250 (which Tissot developed and equipped with an avant-garde SYTAL caliber) to name the unchanging materials and technical variants of plastic that the piece was composed of.

Tissot Astrolon - 1971 The Tissot Astrolon from 1971

Now that Tissot equips its self-winding chronographs with its in-house caliber CO12-211 as if it was just natural to them, we wanted to pay a special tribute to the avant-garde Astrolon 2250. According to analyst Jack Freeman, the caliber could have influenced the Sistem 51 by Swatch. Indeed, even though it was not its exact replica, the 2010 caliber CO12-211 was greatly inspired by the legendary Astrolon 2250. Its synthetic hybocarbon materials and above all its simplicity – inspired by another legend, namely the very efficient Lemania 5100 movement – make the caliber CO12-211 stand out from the rest. The Lemania 5100 had only 184 components while the Valjoux 7750 from 1974 had a total of 240 components. This therefore shows the high level of industrial ingenuity at the time.

Tissot Research 1972 Tissot Research 1972

Also read our articles on Sistem 51 that was released by the Swatch Group on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Swatch:

Sistem51, industrial excellence in Swatch Group Style by Eric Othenin-Girard

I s Sistem51 a potential blackhole for mechanical arts? by Joël A. Grandjean

Astrolon caliber Astrolon's caliber

And receive each week a custom selection of articles.

Tissot Astrolon: the synthetic revolution

By Rémy SolnonSpecialised journalist
In 1971, well before the famous Swatch appeared in 1983, Tissot revolutionized watchmaking with the introduction of its Astrolon, aka IDEA 2001. It was the...

Technical watchmaking: time for light materials - Part 2

By Vincent DaveauContributor
Richard Mille aroused the curiosity of watchmaking brands with its concept of light watches to the point that they also joined the race for minimum weight....

Technical watchmaking: time for light materials - Part 1

By Vincent DaveauContributor
Watchmaking evolves according to changes in technologies and to public taste. Throughout the years, it has progressed in terms of wear by reducing the...