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The Ascent of an Icon: The Mathey-Tissot Story

Category Jewellery & Watches Published 18 August 2017

The Ascent of an Icon: The Mathey-Tissot Story

A unique story based on quality, integrity and personal service. The CEO of Mathey-Tissot gives us the inside scoop. Find out what’s behind the watches and the fashion as we interview the head of this amazing brand.

Near the centre of the Swiss Jura Mountains, at an altitude of 3,300 feet, lies the village of Les Ponts de Martel, nestled in one of Switzerland’s most beautiful valleys. Here, in the year 1886, the Mathey-Tissot Watch Company was founded.

Then began a unique story based on quality, integrity and personal service. Mathey-Tissot initially specialised in "repeater" watches, timepieces that chime the hour and half-hour. Soon afterwards, the company undertook the production of chronographs (stop-watches), crafted with such ingenuity and precision that they were immediately successful. In fact, numerous prizes and awards for superlative quality were collected throughout Europe.

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In 1890 the Boer War between England and South Africa erupted, and the demand for Mathey-Tissot's fine watches became so great that a new larger factory was built. (Among the orders received was one from a jeweller in Scotland who had been commissioned by a local nobleman to supply a gold repeater watch to each officer in his son's regiment, and a sterling silver model for each enlisted mall. Small though it may appear today, that order for 2,500 watches was enormous by prevailing standards.)

In the Kew Observatory Competition of 1914, Mathey-Tissot was represented by six chronographs, each with split-second timing. All not only passed the Class A rating with mention of "especially good", but one had a record never previously attained. Later that same year Mathey-Tissot followed this accomplishment with the award of the Grand Prix at Berne's Swiss National Exhibition. As the years passed, a striking array of other honours was earned by the famed craftsmen of Mathey-Tissot. During World War I, Mathey-Tissot was called on to supply the United States Army Corps of Engineers with large quantities of precision chronographs, and Gen. John J. Pershing, Commander of the United States Expeditionary Forces, selected Mathey-Tissot as the watch to award to members of his staff.

In addition to its regular business of producing fine watches for jewellers throughout the world, Mathey-Tissot before and during World War II turned out thousands of timepieces for the United States armed forces and the British Navy. Today Mathey-Tissot offers a rare blend of expertise, quality styling and personalized handling that unfortunately has all but gone from the watch industry. The key word is "Flexibility". Buyers, large or small are not just numbers - they are names and friends.

The Mathey-Tissot story has really just begun. Never content to “sit on its laurels”, the company has big plans for the future - “big” in the sense that new, innovative watches and ideas will continue to position Mathey-Tissot in the forefront of super quality Swiss watch companies but "small" enough never to forget that relations with its customers is paramount.

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From the Man Behind the Brand

We spoke to Mathey-Tissot owner Alberto Frigerio Bonvicino on his revival of the Mathew-Tissot brand and its plants for the future.

"I'm born 1971 in Italy on the city of La Spezia to an Italian family of Lord," Alberto tells Ideal World, "I bear the title Don Conte." From a family of aristocrats, its no surprise that his family were friends with the Savoy family (in Italian Casa Savoia), who were the linage of the last Kings of Italy before the end of the Second World War made Italy a republic.

Studying economics and commercial interests at university, this would-be Don started his working life in more humble surroundings: working in a watch and souvenir store in Geneva, working his way up to managing a chain of stores and eventually setting up a watch company.

"Since I was young I had a passion for the watches and the manufacturing process combining art and technical innovation and process," says Bonvicino. "Working in the watch business is a real pleasure as I can live my passion and meet people from different countries and cultures. It is a real privilege to be able to do it."

Alberto Frigerio Bonvicino, CEO of Mathey-Tissot

His company then made a major step: acquired the licence to sell Mathey-Tissot, and then Alberto bought the whole brand and figured it was time for a come-back.

The intricate history of Mathey-Tissot is listed above, and with this expertise, plus the ground-up knowledge he gained from climbing the ladder of the watch industry, Bonvicino has made the brand a massive success. "The most important thing to me is doing my job with passion, sharing it with my partners and clients and trying to bring back Mathey-Tissot brand at the top."

It is this passion and dedication that makes Mathey-Tissot such an acclaimed brand, and why we're proud to feature it here at Ideal World.