PARIS • Swiss watchmaker Tissot has had a long history with the sport of cycling, having been linked to various races for half a century.
That long association is probably one of the reasons why Tissot president Francois Thiebaud is proud to once again have the Tour de France in the brand's timekeeping stable.
This year, Tissot became the timekeeper of the world's biggest cycling race again, replacing Festina after 24 years. Its agreement with race organiser the Amaury Sport Organisation will also see its timekeeping expertise deployed at other major races including the Paris-Nice stage race, and Vuelta a Espana or Tour of Spain.
Tissot had previously timed the Tour from 1988 to 1992.
In an interview with The Straits Times, Thiebaud noted Tissot's crucial role as timekeeper, saying: "Without timing, there is no race."
Its timekeeping officials take three hours each day to set up and test timing equipment. It is a complicated operation considering the scale of the Tour - with almost 200 riders competing over 3,535km.
Tissot is part of the Swatch Group, which has a significant presence in sports timekeeping.
For instance, Omega, which is also part of the stable, started keeping time at the Olympics in 1932.
Besides being an "exciting and emotional medium" to reach out to the masses, timekeeping helps the watchmaker remain on top in terms of timekeeping technology, said Thiebaud.
With innovation in the brand's "DNA", he said it was this quality that would lead Tissot to play a bigger role in the sport of cycling in future, although he did not go into specifics.
"We intend to keep striving for better performances year by year. The timing, scoring and analysis is bound to be revolutionised," he said.