Founded in 1853 by Charles-Félicien Tissot and his son, Charles-Emile, in the small Swiss Jura town of Le Locle, Tissot has been responsible for several timekeeping innovations, including the first mass-produced pocket watch in 1853 and the first plastic wristwatch in 1971.
For more than 200 years, Switzerland has been a center for watchmaking, known for quality, precision, and taste, and Tissot quickly became a leader in this industry. The first Tissot pocket watches were sold in the United States and then imperial Russia—eventually, Tissot’s watches spread to 150 countries around the world. The combination of the Tissots’ global marketing savvy as well as its innovative and efficient factory machines led to its watches receiving prizes at the 1883 World’s Fair in Chicago, the Paris Exhibition in 1889, and the Paris World Exhibition in 1900.
At the turn of the century, the company introduced a full line of wristwatches. In 1930, Tissot produced the first-ever anti-magnetic watch, which was a major innovation at the time. The company’s Navigator was another impressive development, a self-winding watch with a universal calendar. In 1958, the company launched the single-caliber watch, and also a collection of high-quality watches at reasonable prices.
Tissot was also a big part of the quartz-watch revolution, contributing in-depth research into the magnetic clutch, which helps accurate and automatic time-zone changes, and developing the first analog quartz watch combined with a digital display that served multiple purposes.
In the '80s, the quartz analog Navigator watches were the first to show the local time in all time zones around the world. The Tissot PR Sonor was installed with a microprocessor that allowed for truly accurate time-zone changes, as well as alarms. The Tissot PR100 would withstand water at depth of 300 foot, available in steel, gold plate, and two-tone metal.
The 1987 TwoTimer was another landmark, a piece that combined the movement and the case, thereby reducing the parts by 10 percent. It also displayed the day and date in English, French, or Spanish; featured a timer with visible countdown; and boasted a 24-hour alarm. The RockWatch, introduced in 1985, had a case made out of Swiss granite that's millions of years old, which is why no two models are the same. The 1988 WoodWatch was carved out of Corsican briar, a wood traditionally used in pipes, and 1987 PearlWatch was crafted from mother of pearl.
In the 1930s, Tissot merged with the Omega watchmaking family, and now Tissot-Omega watches from that time period are highly collectible. Over the years, Tissot watches have been the official timekeeper for notable sporting events such as downhill skiing at the Alpine World Ski Championships in Switzerland in 1938, as well as the Davis Cup in 1957. They’ve also been used for road biking, circuit racing, fencing, cycling, and ice hockey competitions...
Tissot, now a member of the Swatch Group, hasn’t quit making watches worthy of James Bond, as its T-Touch watches have sapphire glass touchscreens that access compasses, barometers, altimeters, and thermometers. The supercharged (and rechargeable) High-T is like a wrist computer that can tell atomic time on downloadable watch faces, set a vibrating alarm, show dual time, run a stop watch and countdown timer, give the weather forecast, show lottery results, movie listings, headline news, and even receive email and instant messages.