Tissot’s bragging rights is worth 158 long years of storied watchmaking history.
1853 - When it all started. Tissot produced exquisite pocket watches then.
Mention Tissot, and sporty images of brand ambassadors wearing its signature T-touch watches come to mind. But the sporty association is not new. The Swatch-owned marque has always been involved in the world of sports — it was used in downhill skiing competitions in the 1930s as well as the 1957 Davis Cup.
Unfortunately, the overwhelming commercial success of T-touch and its sporty heritage has shrouded Tissot's status as as a true blue watchmaker. And that was back in 1853, more than a century ago. Its savonette pocket watches were a big hit then, and it expanded at a rate that founders Charles-Félicien Tissot and his son Charles-Émile Tissot would not have imagined.
Over the years, the Le Locle-based watchmaker never failed to impress. From anti-magnetic watches to timepieces made of wood, granite and pearl, it remained at the forefront of watchmaking in terms of technology or design. Then came the year 2000 when it unveiled the revolutionary T-touch technology, which made waves for allowing wearers to touch the dial to activate a variety of functions. It was literally the shot in the arm that Tissot needed after a steady but somewhat overly peaceful Nineties.
Today, T-touch forms the bedrock of Tissot. It is however complemented by a strong array of classic pieces, ladies' and even pocket watches. This approach has enabled Tissot to grow, and grow. Case in point: It made 850,000 watches in 1996. But a decade on, its output rose to more than two million, an increment of more than two-fold.
“We have a watch for everyone,” François Thiébaud, the president of Tissot, told the Financial Times in an interview last year. “I no longer say Tissot is a generalist: rather, we are multi-specialists.” That it doesn’t compete with the who’s who of haute horlogerie helps too. He adds: “We’ve always tried to combine history, technology and innovation. Somehow, being sandwiched between the top and bottom of the market has obliged us to remain innovative. We always ask: ‘What does the customer want?’”
Which sees Tissot releasing a slew of classic timepieces at BaselWorld 2011. Available in both men’s and women’s sizes, the Bridgeport Automatic is good ’ol Tissot at its very best: A dependable ETA 7750 chronograph coupled with matinee good looks. Then, there is the Tissot T-Lord Automatic. A handsome and modern re-interpretation of the classic dress watch, it makes the perfect accessory for workwear with its slim proportions. (It measures 400mm wide and only 9.9mm thick.) The ladies are not forgotten either. The Lady Round Bicolour comes with a two-tone bracelet, and is chic and sophisticated with a minimalist dial design.
If Tissot remains on the same track as today, there is no reason why it won't carry on its success for more years to come.