TISSOT TESTS TIME
The 1850s were a time of burgeoning creativity and industrial revelations, bringing forth such inventions as the wrench, the propeller, the Colt revolver, the sewing machine, Morse code, plastic, the postage stamp, pasteurization, the bicycle and the mechanical calculator. Tissot, which was also born in this era, has been characterized by progressive technology throughout its long history – all the way up to its current 160th anniversary.
Le Locle was influenced by the times as much as other horological locations, and thus in 1853 Charles-Félicien Tissot and his son Charles-Emile laid the cornerstone for their eponymous brand by way of their first two time zones pocket watch. Unusually, it was the son who prominently displayed pioneering spirit: he had lived with his uncle in New York for many years after completing his watchmaker apprenticeship, gaining a great deal of experience with diverse types of watches. His distribution style was proactive and his many trips soon made Tissot well known all over the world. The brand was especially popular in Russia from 1858. The Czar even kept time with a Tissot savonette pocket watch. Tissot was sold throughout the Russian empire, though that was not necessarily uncommon in an era when many Swiss watchmakers – such as Heinrich Moser – cemented their success in the populous imperial country.
In 1911, following the fashion of the day, the Swiss firm launched its first wristwatch, and in 1918 it became what we would currently term a manufacture, beginning with large-series produc-
tion of wristwatches, thereby laying two cornerstones of its very bright future.
In 1930, Tissot merged with Omega to become the SSIH ( Société Suisse pour l’Industrie Horlogère). Within this relationship, which continues to this day inside the Swatch Group, Omega received the role of premium brand while Tissot covered the mid-priced segment. In 1932, the cooperative company bought movement maker Lémania, from whom Tissot also sourced chronograph calibers. Down the road, in 1983 the SSIH, of which Tissot was part of, merged with the ASUAG group to form the SMH. It later became the Swatch Group in 1998.
After the groundbreaking Tissot Antimagnétique wristwatch of 1930, the first antimagnetic watch, in 1958 Tissot introduced a movement that many of its competitors oriented their own techology upon: the Unique Caliber. It was conceived as a modular movement, so that without any great effort it would later be able to accommodate additional functions like date or weekday displays.
Movement technology continued
to be a hot topic for Tissot, which was at the head of the development of the Caliber 2250 – known as the "Astrolon" or Sytal - in the 1970s. This self-lubricating movement, which therefore did not need to be oiled was at the heart of the Tissot IDEA 2001 watch of 1971. It did not immediately become a great suc- cess however, and the cheaper prices of quartz movements represented fierce competition for mechanical watches. The designs of the Tissot IDEA 2001 were pure 1970s, and remain sought-after classics in today’s secondary market.
Tissot used quartz technology in the 1980s for experimenting with fashionable watches such as the Tissot RockWatch, whose case was created from natural stone (at first only locally sourced in Switzerland), making each of these timepieces unique. These watches were chiefly purchased by people interested in fashion, and put Tissot squarely on the map of a changing horological world.
By the end of the 1960s, Tissot’s sprawling factory employed more than 1,000 people. The building itself reflects the upgraded technology of the years. The first factory was built in 1907 and was regularly extended. In 2011 a new warehouse facility was created to meet the high-demand for Tissot products, allowing the management of a delivery volume approaching 4 million assembled watches per year.
In 1999, the Tissot T-Touch once again propelled Tissot’s reputation for progressive technology and spawned an entire family of timepieces. The Tissot T-Touch Classic from 2012 boasts 13 touch-activated functions ranging from the chronograph to the compass, to the logbook and tide, while the iconic Tissot T-Touch Expert includes 16 functions with the air pressure, altimeter and thermometer among others.
Tissot, which has enjoyed dynamic growth since 1853, partnered and sponsored more than 500 sporting events all over the world in 2012. Perhaps that’s what makes it the most exported Swiss Traditional watches in terms of volume. Furthermore, it has the biggest retail network around the world and in all markets.
T H E 1 9 6 8 C a rro u se l I S A P LA Y F UL WA T C H WI T H E X C H A N G E A B L E B E Z E L S .
TISSOT SAVO N E T TE P O C K E T WA T C H F R O M T H E 19 T H C E N T U RY.
TOP LEFT :C A M PA I G N FO R T H E T R AV EL C L O C K T I S S O T H E R M E T I C F R O M 19 2 9.
TOP RIGHT: tissot T-TOUCH, THE r E V O L U T I O N A R Y WA T C H WI T H A T O U C H S C R E E N WA S I N T R O D U C E D I N 1 9 9 9 – EIGHT YEARS BEFORE THE FIRST I-PHONE.
BOT TOM LEFT: T issot I D E A 2 0 0 1 from 1 9 7 2 WA S T H E F I R S T WA T C H WI T H P L A S T I C PA RTS I N T H E M OV E M EN T. BOTTOM RIGHT: F R A N Ç O I S T H I É B A U D , P resident
of T isot since 19 96 .
G R AC E K EL LY V I S I TS T H E T I S S O T WO R K S H O P S in N OV E M B E R 196 0.