Among the many brands owned by the Almighty Swatch Group, Tissot is one of the most accessible, with an average price located around 450 euros. And yet, the watches imagined by the house created in Le Locle in 1853 do not compromise on quality. This is also one of their main strengths: If Tissot today is among the ten most powerful watch brand in the world, it is thanks to the excellent value of its timepieces. And this is also the reason it a brand popular with watch enthusiasts wishing to start a collection.
For over 160 years, Tissot has made innovation its engine. Back on the history of one of the founding brands of modern watchmaking.
As early as 1917, the brand relies on its value for money
Born in the Swiss city of Le Locle, Tissot was founded in 1853 by Charles-Félicien Tissot, a gold box editor, and his watchmaker son Charles-Émile. From the start, they plan to build a real watchmaking empire and give themselves the means. Thus, in its first year of existence, the brand unveils the first pocket watch with two time zones. They also invest in the United States, thanks to a watchmaker uncle on the other side of the Atlantic, and have met with some success thanks to their luxurious and technical pocket watches. Soon, the United States became the first market of the brand.
From the very beginning of the company, Charles-Émile Tissot also traveled through Europe and Russia to establish sales outlets. At the time, the company was known as Ch. Félicien Tissot & Fils. It is therefore a set-up counter: the pieces are manufactured by the specialized watchmakers at their home before being delivered to Tissot for assembly and sale. Despite the quality of its timepieces, the family company faces stiff competition. But it is playing well thanks to the enthusiasm of Russia, which has become its main export country.
The Russian Revolution of 1917, which led to the fall of the Tsar and the arrival of the Bolsheviks in power, upset Tissot’s plans. The mark must find other means of subsistence. At the end of this year, it becomes a public limited company under the name Chs. Tissot & Fils SA. The counter is transformed into a factory. From that time, Tissot took the challenge of betting on affordable prices and a mid-range positioning. This strategy has allowed it to develop throughout the world, and the Swiss house has not deviated from it in nearly a century. When crisis strikes the 1920s, Tissot establishes a commercial agreement with Omega to strengthen. Ten years later, the two brands together founded the SSIH (Swiss Swiss Watch Industry). From this date, Tissot gradually emerged as one of the leading watch brands in the world.
Inventing again and again
Until the 1970s, Tissot pushed the boundaries of innovation with unprecedented timepieces. In 1930, the brand released the first non-magnetic wristwatch in the world, the Tissot antimagnetic. In 1951, the Tissot Navigator aroused admiration, the first self-winding wristwatch displaying the 24 time zones without manipulation. The first wristwatch with a hole in the world (the Tissot PR 516 in 1965), the first wristwatch with a case and a mechanical plastic movement to meet the recurring problem of oiling (the Tissot Astrolon in 1971)… The watchmakers of the brand invent without ceasing without ever departing from their principle to propose timepieces at the best price-quality ratio possible.
In the 1970s, the Swiss watch industry suffered from the competition of quartz watches. At the instigation of Nicolas G. Hayek, responsible for auditing the various players in the watch industry, the main watchmaking groups of the time merged: SSIH (including Tissot and Omega) and ASUAG (a holding company The manufacturers of movements and blanks) become the SMH, which will be transformed in 1998 to give birth to the Swatch Group.
Since this turbulent time, Tissot has never denied its principles. The Rockwatch of 1985 (natural stone box), Twotimer of 1986 (double analogue and led display and seven functions adjustable by a single crown), Woodwatch of 1989 (wooden box), T-Touch First Swiss tactile watch), the brand continued to innovate throughout the end of the 20th century. And it still does today, like the Tissot T-Touch Solar, the first touch-driven solar-powered watch released last year. As for its pricing policy, Tissot continues to offer its watches at prices defying competition. Watchmakers are delighted!
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