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There aren’t many watch brands that can get easily mixed up even for a beginning watch enthusiast.
Nevertheless, since I launched my site a couple of years ago, there have been endless cases of people mistakenly taking a Mathey-Tissot watch for a Tissot model and vice versa.
Whereas both brands provide excellent quality-to-price ratios and have many brilliantly crafted timepieces to their name, they are two separate watchmakers that I’m pretty sure would like to be recognized as such.
The Swiss pair has been around for well over 100 years now and, despite the ever-growing competition, still enjoys great success in terms of sales and global recognition.
In today’s article, we will dive deep into the Mathey-Tissot vs Tissot brand comparison that will hopefully put the stop to all the confusion once and for all. Additionally, if you’re currently mulling over the purchase of one of these watches, I hope the article gives you a better idea of which watchmaker is likely to be a better fit at the moment.
For a super-detailed review of both brands, consider reading:
Without further delay, let’s go.
Mathey-Tissot vs Tissot: A Look at the History
In terms of their history, both brands can be considered one of the oldest hands of the horological industry.
Below find a brief comparison of the history of Mathey-Tissot and Tissot.
The beginning of Mathey-Tissot as a watch brand dates back to 1886. It was set up in a small village town belonging to the picturesque region of the Swiss Jura Mountains, Less Ponts Martel. The brand was founded by a talented local watchmaker named Edmond, you guessed it, Mathey-Tissot.
Before the release of its first wristwatch, the brand was specializing in the now-extinct repeater watches and pocket timepieces.
The first notable success of Mathey-Tissot was its line of chronograph watches. The need for those was kick-started by the outbreak of the Second Boer War in 1899. These watches were so appreciated amongst the army personnel that the brand had to set up a new factory to keep up with the demand.
To paint a better picture of their popularity, one of the most influentials Scottish noblemen at that time ordered as many as 2,500 pieces. He handed the gold-made models to the highest-ranking officers whilst the rest of the regiment had to settle for silver watches.
Mathey-Tissot’s chronograph timepieces were of such high standard that they even received a special mention during the prestigious Kew Observatory Competition in 1914. The same year they won the Grand Prix award during another distinguished ceremony, the Swiss National Exhibition.
The brand’s connection with the war industry continued throughout WW1 during which it was one of the main watch supplies of the United States Army. Again, the high level of craftsmanship was highly appreciated by the high-ranking staff. For example, General Pershing awarded his best personnel with Mathey-Tissot timepieces.
After fruitful collaboration during WW1, Mathey-Tissot continued to deliver excellent workmanship before, during, and after World War II. This time also the Royal Navy was wearing MT watches. The close US – Mathey-Tissot connection was sealed in 1937 when the brand became a trademark name in the United States.
In the subsequent decades, the company’s profile continued to rise in the US, so much that it was the favorite watch brand of the rock & roll legend, Elvis Pressley. The star was wearing a personalized Mathey-Tissot timepiece, as well as presenting these to his close friends and family.
Like all watch brands, Mathey-Tissot was massively hit by the Quartz Crisis initiated by another brilliant watchmaker, Seiko. Luckily, the brand has survived the industry-shaking revolution and continues to deliver well-crafted timepieces at affordable pricing to this day.
Tissot is a company with an even longer-standing history than Mathey-Tissot. The brand was founded as early as 1853 by Charles-Felicien Tissot and his son, Charles-Emilie Tissot. The company was set up in Le Cocle, a municipality located in the western part of Switzerland.
Trying to highlight the family influence as much as possible, Charles-Felicien named the company Charles-Felicien Tissot & Son.
In the early stages of the company development, it was largely dependent on a network of outsourced craftsmen who were responsible for manufacturing different watch parts such as cases, crowns, and straps.
Once the parts were delivered, Charlies-Felicien and his son would begin assembling timepieces. The first type of watches produced under the Tissot label were pocket and pendant watches.
When the company was making its baby steps in the industry, the primary goal was simple: assemble and send for sale to the United States as many timepieces as possible. Probably not even the founders expected that a door to a new market will open that quickly.
Even though the first Tissot watches were already sent to Russia in 1858, it was the year 1885 that saw the brand’s expansion to Europe’s biggest country take off. Not like it was all planned, though! Tissot’s rise in Russia was mostly down to Charles Tissot finding a wife there and deciding to settle for good. His growing connections and great relationships with the citizens of Moscow made the expansion over there much easier.
Continuing its growth, the brand opened the first factory in 1907 in the Swiss town of Chemin de Tourelless. To this day, Tissot’s headquarters are located there.
In 1910, Tissot’s collection of women’s watches was on the lips of all females. The timepieces stood out from those offered by competitors due to the presence of gold, platinum, and diamond ornaments. Even though pocket watches were still all the rage in that period, Tissot managed to rack up lots of sales with its innovative approach. The success of the line inspired many watchmakers to follow suit.
1917 was another breakthrough year for the brand as they opened their first manufacturing company. Finally, Tissot was able to produce its own movements and other watch parts. Although not cheap to set up, the move proved very profitable soon after because of the reduction of the outsourcing costs. The decision also made the high-end Tissot models more affordable for a wider public.
In the following decades, Tissot’s innovative approach in some areas helped shape the existing-to-this-day trends in the watchmaking industry. For example, the brand was first to introduce non-magnetic watches in 1930. This is considered a norm nowadays.
Also, Tissot was one of the first watchmakers ever to design watches made of plastic, wood, and mother of pearl. Finally, it was also the pioneer when it comes to using tritium for the illumination function in timepieces.
It’s worth noting that in 1930 the brand merged with another Swiss watch mogul, Omega. The move sparked the beginning of the first Swiss watchmaking association (SSIH).
Just like the Quartz Crisis didn’t spare Mathey-Tissot, Tissot also had its share of challenges to overcome in order to survive and then continue prospering. Along with few other brands, in 1998 Tissot decided to join the prestigious Swatch Group. The move proved to be an excellent one and to this day helps the brand prosper amidst the constantly growing competition. Other watchmakers belonging to the Swatch Group include Omega, Longines and Harry Winston.
MT vs Tissot Today
Whereas we could say that the two brands were going head-to-head until the Quartz Crisis struck in 1969 and continued well into the 1970s, it’s only fair to say that Tissot handled the setback much better.
Even though both brands offer excellent value for money to this day, Tissot is clearly miles ahead in terms of the number of sales and global recognition. This is particularly visible in the annual revenue reports. In the last year, Tissot has managed more than $169 million. The $1 million result by Mathey-Tissot seems pretty dim in contrast.
Despite the stark difference in the number of sales, by no means am I trying to suggest that Mathey-Tissot watches are so many levels below Tissot. Many factors contribute to such a huge revenue discrepancy, not least the much bigger budget of Tissot that in turn leads to a more aggressive marketing strategy. The brand’s high status in the aforementioned Swatch Group is a leading factor in this.
Tissot vs Mathey-Tissot: How About the Prices?
Despite having some higher-priced models to its name, Mathey-Tissot should be mostly considered a low-to-mid-budget watchmaker.
This is in contrast to Tissot who on the other hand offers some low-budget models but on a whole is seen as a mid-to-high budget brand. It’s not uncommon to hear watch experts and aficionados refer to the brand as Entry-Level luxury.
Some of the cheapest Mathey-Tissot collections, like the City or Rolly, can be snatched online even for less than $100. The vast majority of models such as the GMT line oscillate in the $200-$300 price range. Even the most refined releases are unlikely to go break the $1,000 mark.
When it comes to Tissot, there are just a few models available at the $100 price point. A large chunk of these is women’s watches although you will also find one or two models for men. The vast majority of Tissot models are listed in the $200-$600 price range although some of the top-end models from collections like T-Race or Heritage might set you back even $2,000.
Tissot vs MT: Style
Both brands focus largely on a casual-cum-elegant style of watches. If you’re a fan of stainless steel and leather timepieces, you’re likely to be spoilt for choice with these two.
Even though the pair oscillates in different budgets, the excellent level of Swiss craftsmanship and attention to detail is there for all to see with both watchmakers.
Whilst it’s impossible to find a fully sporty look in any of the Mathey-Tissot collections, such as watches with silicone or rubber bands or/and cases or chronographs, Tissot has something to offer in this field as well. The T-Sport collection is full of multi-dial models and other variations suitable for people who are physically active and appreciate the more laid-back style of timepieces.
Summing up the subject of style, it’s fair to say that Mathey-Tissot is more fixed on the unified design of watches. On the other hand, we have Tissot which, despite also preferring the refined and classy design, tries to cater to the taste of differently-oriented customers with sporty collections like the aforementioned T-Sport.
PS. If you’re a vintage enthusiast, you can explore the pocket watch collections from both brands. There are some excellent old-school models to pick from.
Tissot vs Mathey-Tissot: Durability
Both watchmakers offer watches designed to stand the test of time, using some of the best quality materials available on the market.
Naturally, the longevity of the watch and the type of material used to assemble it will largely depend on how much you’re willing to spend.
For example, the most damage-prone part of any watch, the dial window, is at the very least made from mineral crystal glass. This type of glass has powerful scratch-resistant properties and can be seen in:
- Mathey-Tissot models under $150
- Tissot models under $250
Of course, there are exceptions to the rule but more often than not, this is how both brands work.
To get the premium type of glass, sapphire crystal, you will have to go beyond the price points mentioned above. The material is considered the most scratch-resistant available, and it’s not uncommon to use an anti-reflective coating. The coating makes the crystal pretty much invisible and allows for easy reading in any light.
Moving on to other important elements, most of the time Mathey-Tissot and Tissot use stainless steel cases which are arguably the best protection against scratches and stains. With Tissot, you can also expect to come across premium titanium models. Although considerably lighter and easier on the eye, titanium watches are more scratch-prone.
Neither of the two brands uses plastic dials in any of their watch models which is excellent. To be fair, this form of “protection” should be banned by now.
It’s not uncommon for the brands to aid the protection against water damage by using screw-down casebacks and crowns.
When it comes to bracelets, Mathey-Tissot offers two types…
- stainless steel
…whereas Tissot has more options to pick from:
- stainless steel
The above disparity is down to the fact that Mathey-Tissot doesn’t offer any sports collections. The brand also never really believed in the hype about titanium-made timepieces.
Mathey-Tissot vs Tissot: Movement
With the proud Swiss heritage of both watchmakers, it’s not a surprise that ALL watch models use Swiss-made movements.
Browsing through Mathey-Tissot and Tissot collections, we can differentiate between three main movement types:
- manual (requiring to be wound daily)
- automatic (required to be worn, powered by the kinetic movement of your wrist)
- quartz (battery-powered)
Additionally, there’s the solar-powered T-Touch collection offered by Tissot. It’s a great choice if you’re environment-conscious, enjoy quartz-like precision, and want to save on battery replacements.
When it comes to mechanical movements, whether manual or automatic, the accuracy will depend on the specific caliber used. Usually, the more expensive the watch, the more complex and accurate the movement. Depending on the model, you can expect accuracy ranging from -30/+50 seconds daily to even -5/+10 a day by Tissot and from -40/+60 seconds daily to -15/+25 seconds/day by Mathey-Tissot.
In terms of the Swiss quartz movements, both brands are rather unified. Battery-powered movements deliver a fairly standard accuracy of +/- 15-20 seconds/day.
Mathey-Tissot vs Tissot: Warranty
Mathey-Tissot and Tissot are in total agreement when it comes to the length of the warranty policy.
As long as the watches are purchased from authorized sellers or at the brands’ official websites, all the models are covered by a 2-year warranty period.
The guarantee period covers both material and manufacturing defects. Any damage related to your own negligence, such as cracks and scratches, naturally won’t be considered for free repair.
What I don’t like about the Mathey-Tissot warranty policy: if you purchase any watch from the brand’s official site that exceeds $500 in value and you decide to return it, the refund won’t be in cash but in vouchers that you’ll have to spend at the online store.
What I don’t like about the Tissot warranty policy: it doesn’t cover battery-related issues.
Read more about the policies of both brands:
Comparing MT & Tissot: Conclusion
I hope that by now you can easily distinguish between these two excellent Swiss watchmakers.
To sum up the Tissot vs Mathey-Tissot comparison, it’s only fair to say that these two brands have a lot in common but just as many differences.
For starters, whether you should go for a Mathey-Tissot watch or a Tissot timepiece will largely depend on how much are you able to spend.
If your current budget is quite constrained, your best bet would be picking one of the Mathey-Tissot models. Although not on the lips of everyone anymore, the vast majority of these watches provide just as good value for money as Tissot. Sure, at times they might not come with as many perks and top-end materials as the more pricey Tissot but they’re still excellent wristwatches for their price.
If you’re willing to spend more (and at times, considerably more), feel free to crawl through the many collections of Tissot. Not without a reason, these watches are commonly referred to as Entry-Level luxury. Apart from turning many heads, they use some of the highest-end Swiss automatic movements. Nowadays, you can also find models powered by the sun. Let’s also not forget that Tissot offers a bigger variety of styles and designs than Mathey-Tissot.
Both brands have been on the market for way too long for it to be a coincidence and a stroke of luck. Despite Tissot being a much more “mainstream” brand than the low-key Mathey-Tissot, both are experts in their own sense of watchmaking. Whatever brand you pick, you’re unlikely to be disappointed with your purchase.
Make sure to let me know about your decision in the comment section below.