Charles-Felicien Tissot and his son Charles-Emile created a watch-making company in Le Locle in Switzerland in 1853 and in the years that followed created innovative new watches while at the same time developed new mass-production techniques to reduce costs, while also marketing around the world, specifically in Russia, which Charles-Emile Tissot visited a total of 52 times before his death in 1910. Tissot's aim was always to produce quality watches at affordable prices. The firm passed into the hands of Charles Tissot in 1883 and to his son Paul in 1911. The Russian Revolution closed down one of the firm's most lucrative markets in 1917 but the introduction of a wrist watch in 1917 was a big step forward. This was followed in 1925 by a merger with Omega and the establishment of La Societe Suisse pour L'Industrie Horlogere (SSIH). Innovations over the years have included the dual-time watch in 1853; anti-magnetic watches in the 1930s; the first plastic watches in 1971 and the rock watch, the wood watch and the pearl watch of the 1980s. In the 1970s the company embarked on an aggressive programme of sports sponsorship with backing for the Tour de France cycle race and an association in Formula 1 with Renault Sport and Team Lotus.

In 1981 the Tissot Family finally lost control of the business and in 1983 Tissot quit F1 in 1983 when it merged with another watch firm Asuag to form SMH which in 1997 became known as Swatch.

The company is currently the official timekeeper of the MotoGP series but maintains a strong presence in cycling. The company also has a personal sponsorship agreement with soccer player Michael Owen.