In 1853, Charles-Félicien Tissot, a gold case-fitter, and his son Charles-Émile, a watchmaker, joined forces to found the "Charles-Félicien Tissot & Son" assembly shop in Le Locle, Switzerland. The Tissot catalogue included a large range of pocket watches and pendant watches, mostly in gold, richly decorated or with complications. Their quality was widely recognised at national and international exhibitions as well as at chronometry competitions. During the 1900 World's Fair, the famous actress Sarah Bernhardt bought an 18 carat gold pendant watch.
Mainly destined for export, Tissot watches were sold in the United States from 1853, and in the Russian Empire from 1858. Family ties were added to commercial ties when Charles Tissot, Charles-Émile's son, moved to Moscow in 1885 to manage the branch his father had set up there, and started a family with a Russian woman. Until the beginning of the October Revolution in 1917, the Russian Empire was Tissot's biggest market, where Tissot timepieces made it as far as the Tsar's court.
In 1907, Charles Tissot had a factory built on Chemin de Tourelles, in Le Locle, where the company's current headquarters are situated. Thanks to electrical motors, mechanical production was gradually adopted, enabling the serial production of meticulously-made watches. From the dawn of the 1910s, Tissot sold its first wristwatches for women, in the form of gold and platinum pieces set with diamonds. Next, Tissot created wristwatch models for men, well before the peak of this trend between the two world wars. While their aesthetic was influenced by current styles, such as Art Nouveau and then Art Deco, they stood out for their technical innovations, including the first anti-magnetic watch in the world. In 1917, Tissot started producing its own movements, becoming a manufacturing company. It was therefore able to propose high-quality watches at an affordable price.
In 1930, Tissot and Omega merged to strengthen their position and offer their customers a more complete range of products. This new entity, the SSIH (Société Suisse pour l’Industrie Horlogère), was the first Swiss watchmaking association. In 1933, Paul Tissot launched the Tissot Plan, a very innovative marketing action plan. The plan provided models selected for each market, systematic and targeted advertising campaigns, and free catalogues distributed to retailers. In addition, Tissot offered its customers a one-year guarantee, even in the case of an accident. Just like a woman's wardrobe, which provided a different outfit for every time of day, the ladies' collections were extremely varied, as the advertising slogan highlighted: 'A young woman and 3 watches'. For example, models with leather straps were particularly suited for physical activity, while models with discreetly elegant cord bracelets were more suited to the professional world. As for models with gold bracelets, they went beautifully with evening gowns. For its male clientele, Tissot created chronograph and automatic watches and, in 1951, the Tissot Navigator, an iconic model.
In 1953, Tissot celebrated its 100th birthday. The arrival of Edouard-Louis Tissot in the role of managing director marked a turning point in the industrial organisation of Tissot. Thanks to the introduction of a "single calibre" principle in 1958, the range of movements was simplified and production was rationalised. Indeed the addition of different complications to a basic movement made it possible to produce manual or automatic watches, with or without a calendar and day-date, which were sold around the globe. In view of the company's success, official visits multiplied, and in 1960, the guest book immortalised a visit of the prince and princess of Monaco.
In the 1960s and 70s, the baby-boom generation made youth into a distinct age group, with its own culture and means of expression. For the first time, Tissot created collections for teenagers, including models that were both chic and original. Tissot also explored the possibilities opened up by new materials that were little-used in watchmaking. Synthetic materials, such as fiberglass, gave birth to fun and colorful models. From a technical point of view, they allowed for the creation of a revolutionary movement: the Astrolon. Quartz collections increased in popularity, strengthened by the close collaboration between Tissot and the world of Formula 1: from 1976, the brand partnered with teams such as Ensign, Renault and Lotus, and internationally-renowned racers like Jacky Ickx, Clay Regazzoni, and Mario Andretti.
In 1983, to confront the crisis in the watchmaking industry, Nicolas G. Hayek recommended a merger of the main watchmaking groups of the time. As a result, Tissot joined SMH, which was renamed "The Swatch Group" in 1998. Looking to reinvent itself, Tissot created iconic watches such as the RockWatch, the first watch made of natural stone. The WoodWatch and the PearlWatch followed suit, attracting the business of a large customer base seduced by these new concepts.
At the end of the 1990s, Tissot, through the T-Collection, proposed ultra-feminine models, but also placed importance on sporty models, whose features were increasingly advanced. Sensing the extraordinary potential of touchscreens in the digital world, in 1999 Tissot created the T-Touch, the first tactile watch in the world. In 2014, the T-Touch Expert Solar, a new version powered by solar energy, was another world-first. In this way, the company is staying true to its slogan "Innovators by tradition". Directed by François Thiébaud since 1996, Tissot is also closely associated with the world of sport through its role as Official Timekeeper, and its partnerships with various sports disciplines. Thanks to its continuous ability to innovate, to stay one step ahead of the trends, and to reach all types of audience, every year Tissot sells more than four million watches worldwide.
Arnik Jewellers are Official Certified Agents for Tissot. Come in store or contact us today on (905) 766 0202