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Mathey-Tissot is a watch manufacturer originally located in Ponts-de-Martel, operating since 1886. It is best known for complicated watches like minute repeaters manufactured before World War I.

Edmond Mathey-Tissot

Charles-Edmond Mathey-Henry (allié Tissot) (1858-1929) of Le Locle began a watchmaking business in 1886 in Les Ponts-de-Martel near Le Locle. His name reflected his marriage to Rose-Emma Tissot of Le Locle and La Brévine. Note that his name was often spelled "Matthey" in contemporary records for a century, suggesting that this was perhaps the correct original spelling. His alliance name is variously spelled "Henri" and "Henry" and he did not often use the "Charles" name. The couple had three children: Jean, Etienne, and Violette.

The town of Ponts-de-Martel was a center for complicated watchmaking, skills brought from nearby Fleurier. When the Boer War broke out in 1890 between England and South Africa, demand for fine watches increased and companies like Matthey-Tissot quickly grew. The company soon opened a new larger factory on Grand'Rue 41. It was then that a jeweler in Scotland was commissioned by a local nobleman to provide 2,500 watches, including a gold repeater foreach officer in his son's regiment.

The company registered many patents at this time, reflecting the innovation of Edmond Mathey-Tissot:

  • August 15, 1893 - improved quarter-hour repeater
  • September 30, 1901 - minute repeater
  • May 31, 1903 - speed controller for wheels of repeating watches
  • November 30, 1904 - repeating clock, designed by LeCoultre
  • December 31, 1906 - repeating Grand Clock
  • August 18, 1908 - alarm mechanism with 8-day power reserve
  • March 1, 1909 - case ring for watches with repetition
  • October 16, 1912 - hour counter for chronograph

The business was reorganized in 1896 as E. Mathey-Tissot et Cie, with Charles-Edmond Mathey-Tissot joined by Albert Guye. The latter, a watchmaker from the Val de Run near Fleurier, would remain with his partner's firm through 1933.

A gathering of the makers of repeating watches in 1906 shows the good company of Mathey-Tissot: C. Barbezat-Baillot of Le Phare was president, Edmond Mathey-Tissot was vice president, Gustave Stolz of Angélus (and later director of Le Phare) was secretary, Auguste Jacques of Lugrin was treasurer, and E. Meylan was assessor. The group traveled to Ponts-de-Martel to visit the Mathey-Tissot workshop. He was not greatly involved in other areas of the watch industry, though he did represent his town in the Grand Council.

In 1914, among Mathey-Tissot's entries in the Kew Observatory competition, six chronometers were rated "particularly good." The company won the Grand Prix at the Swiss National Exhibition and took the first prize at the Geneva Observatory for six chronographs that same year. This was also the year that the Martel Watch Co. was founded, with their assembly located above the Mathey-Tissot workshop.

At first, Mathey-Tissot specialized in repeater watches which chimed the hour and half hour. The company soon took began producing chronograph watches as well, as did many competitors at this time. Mathey-Tissot chronographs were used by the United States Army Corps of Engineers during World War I, leading Gen. John J. Pershing, commander of the United States Expeditionary Forces, to select Mathey-Tissot watches to give to his employees. Mathey-Tissot watches were sold by high-end jewelers around the world and thousands were also purchased directly by the United States military and the British Navy before and during World War II.

The company was officially renamed "E. Mathey-Tissot et Cie, Brighton Watch Co." in 1917, reflecting the importance of the British market. This name was removed in 1926.

E. Mathey-Tissot & Co.

Edmond Mathey-Tissot died in 1929 and the company passed to his widow, Emma, in 1933. It was then reorganized as E. Mathey-Tissot & Co. and the two sons of the founder were given charge of the firm. Jean-Edmond Mathey-Henri became president, while Charles-Etienne Mathey-Henri was secretary. Albert Guye, who was also involved in setting up Martel Watch Co., was also a director of the business until 1933.

Mathey-Tissot was reorganized as a Société Anonyme in 1941 under the direction of Rose-Emma Mathey-Henri (née Tissot), Jean-Edmond Mathey-Henri, and Charles-Etienne Mathey-Henri, who also served as director. Emma Mathey-Tissot died in 1943. Jean-Edmond Mathey-Henri remained in charge of the company for 20 years, only resigning in 1961, a year before his death at 75. 10 years later, Charles-Etienne also retired.

Mathey-Tissot supplied many well-known watch brands, including Breguet, Concord, Girard-Perregaux, Heuer, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Longines, Movado, Piaget, Tissot, Ulysse Nardin, Vacheron Constantin, and Zenith.

In 1957, Marcel Fivaz and Jeanine Mathey-Henri became directors of the company. She became known as Jeanine Ruprecht in 1958 on her marriage. Jean-Edmond Mathey-Henri died by 1963.

In 1968, Jules Elefant, a long-standing dealer in the United States, moved to Ponts-de-Martel with his wife and three children and took over the company. Charles-Etienne Mathey-Henri resigned at this time. Jules Elefant's brother remained in New York to help rebuild the brand. Working with Charles-Etienne Tissot until 1975, Jules Elefant died in 1981. His wife and sons took over Mathey-Tissot and the related firm of Bueche-Girod to produce high-quality watches for Cartier in the United States. The company moved to Geneva in 1985 and was based at Rue Mont-Blanc No. 4 through 1993.

Modern Mathey-Tissot

In 1994, Alberto Frigerio Bonvicino became Managing Director. He reorganized the company, moving it to Fribourg in 1998. He also launched new watch models, reopened international markets, and returned the brand to BaselWorld in 2013. The following year, Alberto Frigerio Bonvicino officially took over the company. Recently, SWP (Swiss Watch Partners SA) became exclusive licensee for Mathey-Tissot. It appears that the original E. Mathey-Tissot company of Fribourg was liquidated between 2002 and 2016.