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Mathey-Tissot Swiss-Made Watches - The 5 Best Affordable Models

Posted on March 03 2021

The 5 Best Mathey-Tissot Watches

When the King wants a gift for his loved ones, where does he go?

We know Elvis wore Hamilton, Rolex and Omega. But what did he buy his family and friends?

The King of Rock and Roll chose Swiss heritage brand Mathey-Tissot. They made personalised watches for those close to him.

That’s an amazing endorsement. A cultural icon gave his family these watches as gifts and to use as backstage passes.

And he wasn’t the first American to rate these Swiss-made watches.

The US Army used them as far back as WW1 and General Pershing gave Mathey-Tissot watches as staff awards. The Britsh Royal Navy equipped their servicemen with the brand too.

It’s got to be worth taking a closer look?

The 5 Best Mathey-Tissot Watches


A lot of time has passed since Elvis bought those watches. But it’s a great story. Elvis had fifty watches made with his name built into the bezel. The idea being that he’d give them to family and friends.

And when they wanted backstage at a gig?

They’d flash their wrist to show that they were part of The King’s inner circle.

But that’s all history now. I’ll come back to that later.

First, let’s have a look at the best that the brand offers now. It’s a nice mix of styles - with more than a hint of fellow Swiss brand Rolex in their designs.

Price-wise they’re very affordable and are targeting those interested in entry-level Swiss watches. Here are the five watches that best represent the brand.

Mathey-Tissot Rolly Vintage Watch

The name gives this one away.

Rolly Vintage lets you know that vintage Rolex styling has inspired this piece. The result is excellent. A Swiss-Made automatic with a much-loved dive watch aesthetic.

And it’s a comfortable size. The 40mm case is just right and it houses a 20mm distressed leather strap. This works well for a vintage-inspired watch and makes for a versatile daily wearer.

You’re probably here for those two words at the foot of the dial. Swiss-Made. I get it, it’s important. Particularly at this low price-point. So it’s pleasing to know that this model is Swiss-made, as is the automatic movement.

It’s a big selling point for the brand, but I’m also here for the design. It’s a straightforward Submariner clone, with an aged lume and a simple black colour palette.

It works. The size, the design, the Swiss production. Once you also take the price into consideration, this is the best current Mathey-Tissot watch.

Mathey-Tissot Rolly Vintage H900ATLN

  • 40mm Diameter
  • 12mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • STP1-11 Swiss Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

 


Mathey I Automatic Watch
On a good day, you can get this watch for $300.

It’s a well-executed Rolex Datejust homage with a spectacular dial. And it’s a Swiss-made automatic.

I shouldn’t need to add any more than that. What else do you want for 300 bucks?

But it’s the details that excite watch fans, and this watch does the small things well. The dial is a great example. The photo’s don’t do the textured surface justice. It has a beautiful wave effect on what is otherwise a spartan dial.

Like the Datejust, there are simple indices and a date window at 3 o’clock. Again, like the Rolex, there is a cyclops lens and a plain bezel.

The Mathey-Tissot logo built into the second hand is a nice touch. As is the exhibition back that displays the Swiss-made automatic movement. The rotor is decorated with the brand’s logo.

The Datejust is a design classic for a reason and the Mathey I benefits from that. The styling is timeless and understated. By faithfully reproducing the original the Mathey is one of the best Datejust homages on the market.


Mathey-Tissot Mathey Automatic H1450ATAN

  • 42mm Diameter
  • 9mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • STP1-11 Swiss Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance

 


Mathey-Tissot Rolly III Watch
This watch ticks some of the same boxes as the previous model. It’s another Rolex Datejust homage. Still Swiss-made, but with a quartz movement.

It’s even more affordable - a real option if budget is a big priority.

Stylistically, it’s like the Rolex. There is a fluted bezel on this model and a Jubilee style bracelet. It has the same simple indices, date window and cyclops lens.

Where it differs from the previous model is in the specs. Although still Swiss-made it has a more affordable quartz movement. The glass is down-graded to mineral crystal and the case is slightly smaller at 40mm.

That is all to be expected in a watch that is priced at well under $100. It’s still a bargain.

Mathey-Tissot Rolly III H810AI

  • 40mm Diameter
  • 10mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Swiss Quartz movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance

 


Mathey-Tissot Urban Watch

The Urban is one of the most inexpensive Swiss-made watches that I’ve encountered. It’s attractive, reasonably plain and a great dress watch.

The deep blue gradient dial is the first feature to catch your eye. Then you’ll notice the 12 o’clock numerals and a date window in an unconventional position. They’re nice touches that give the watch character.

The overall effect is one of refinement. It doesn’t have the versatility of the Datejust-style models. They work well in smart casual clothes. Not the Urban. It’s very much a dress watch designed for formal occasions.

If you’re after a very affordable dress watch, with a touch of colour. Try the Urban.

Mathey-Tissot Urban Quartz H411MABU

  • 42mm Diameter
  • 8mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Brass Case
  • Swiss Quartz movement
  • Sapphire Coated Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance

 


Mathey-Tissot Type 22 Chronograph

The final watch is a tasteful and stylish chronograph. Like the other watches on this list, it isn’t an innovative piece. Instead, it’s a great example of a recognisable design.

The black chronograph, with three sub-dials, is a well-loved design and lends itself well to sporty watches. That’s the impression that this watch makes. A motorsports watch in the vein of a Rolex Daytona.

But it’s not a homage. The type 22 has it’s own DNA. I particularly like the slim bezel and the symmetrical dial. Only the date window tucked away at 4 o’clock breaks that symmetry.

It’s an attractive Swiss-made watch with a reliable Ronda quartz chronograph movement. It’s not as affordable as the other quartz models that I’ve highlighted - although it is a more complicated piece.

Stick this watch on a leather racing strap and it would fit seamlessly into the 1970s.

Mathey-Tissot Type 22 H1822CHAN

  • 42mm Diameter
  • 11mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Swiss Quartz movement
  • Sapphire Coated Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance

 

A Brief History of Mathey-Tissot Watches


The 50 watches bought by Elvis Presley could be seen as the brand's highpoint.

It was the tail end of the 1960s and the quartz crisis was yet to decimate the Swiss watch industry. And the King of Rock and Roll requests that they personalise dozens of watches for him.

He then puts them on the wrists of his family and celebrity friends.

It's what brands dream of. But these stories always have a beginning elsewhere. Mathey-Tissot's story is no exception.

Like most Swiss watch brands it started in a small village in the late Victorian period. A single watchmaker, Edmond Mathey-Tissot, launched his small business.

As you've seen with other watchmakers from this time, the business expanded rapidly. The company supplied watches for the Boer War and sent over two thousand pieces to Scotland.

Like many watch manufacturers, Mathey-Tissot benefited from the use of watches during WWI. They supplied the US military with watches. They quickly added the British Royal Navy as a client too.

Mathey-Tissot Swiss Watches

So Are Mathey-Tissot Watches Good Quality?


The military orders watches that work.

They have strict guidelines for their timepieces and usually dictate the general design. Mathey-Tissot had a longstanding relationship with two of the world's premier armies. It speaks volumes about the quality of the watches they were making at the time.

That was 100 years ago now.

But the Elvis Presley watches give a sign of the brand's output a few decades later. His order was for high-quality Swiss-made automatics. They were personalised too. Bespoke Swiss mechanical watches are always a sign of quality.

And the Swiss-made label is still a major selling point for the company. It's viewed as a sign of quality. A label that implies high standards.

I see no problem with this. Mathey-Tissot doesn't use in-house movements like some of the bigger brands. But they're not competing at the price-point where that is realistic. They're a solid entry-level brand.

They're good at what they do. They build watches with branded Swiss movements. Both mechanical and quartz. They use the materials you'd expect, and where appropriate have good water resistance.

As an entry-level Swiss-made brand? Yes, I'm confident to say that you get good watches for your money.

Conclusion


Mathey-Tissot is a very affordable entry-level Swiss brand.

A core selling point is a Swiss-Made label on their watches. It’s a guarantee of a minimum level of quality and tends to command a price increase.

Although the company has previously made watches for the military and bespoke pieces for Elvis, their current range is more straightforward.

They’re now better known as an affordable Swiss company that makes Rolex-style models. In addition, they have some very reasonably priced quartz models - divers, dress and chronographs.

Given the price, you have to accept that you’re not getting the specs of Certina, Mido and other Swiss manufacturers. Instead, I’d suggest that you judge them against high street brands. Typically these sell watches for around £100-300.

Judged against those brands they compare favourably.

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