TIS­SOT TESTS TIME

Plaza Watch International - - Plaza Watch + Tissot Promotion - WO RD S ELIS­A­BETH DO­ERR

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.

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