Hands On Tissot Touch Expert Solar Quartz
Tissot made a touch screen cool long before you were pinching and swiping your iPhone. You will not mind the finger prints on the screen of this T-Touch Expert Solar when you see the watch hands chase your pointing finger around the beefy 45 mm dial.
This light-weight tool is recharged by light and has 20 features including weather forecasting, altimeter, second time zone and a compass. All this is wrapped in a titanium case with a sapphire crystal that you tap to activate the functions.
Tissot is not new to innovation. It was one of the first to create a pocket watch with two time zones in 1853 as well as the first anti magnetic watch in the 20s. They brought the touch screen to the market in 1999.
At first glance it looks like a smart watch wrapped in a sleek titanium case. Its dial is easy to read with a clear contrasting hour and minute hands. The digital read is not your typical Ironman. The navigation buttons are on the right side of the dial at 2, 3 and 4 o’clock and many of the digital abbreviations are different.
The case is 45 mm wide and 52 mm long but feels great on the wrist weighing only 79 grams. I usually brace for the burden of a big-boned watch like this, but the titanium did its job, and I could easily see this on my wrist all day while I trek up and back on my local Red Mountain trails.
The case is 13 mm thick and doesn’t ride too high on the wrist, but I wonder how the satin finished titanium case would handle the trail along with its inevitable bump on rocks and trees. It is rated for 100 meter water resistance, too, so go ahead and get it wet on your river crossing. There’s nothing fancy to see on the case back unless you like seeing the basic facts of the watch.
The dial is a bed of photovoltaic cells with a stunning game-board presence in the direct sun light. Turn and twist the case in the light and patterns come and go. You may also see your finger prints on the sapphire crystal.
The sapphire is framed by a non-rotating bezel that gives you a bold Arabic 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock numerals, with a raised, textured pattern between each. The chapter ring into the dial has indices at odd-numbered times and an outlined, home-base-shaped pentagon index directly under the words that identify the digital functions: meteo, altimeter, chrono, compass, alarm and timer.
The watch is powered by an ETA E84.303 movement and has a micro-controller that manages the watch’s battery consumption by deactivating certain functions or changing to an energy saving mode. Tissot recommends that you charge the battery periodically and details the exposure level to sunlight or indoor light for daily use requirements.
Tissot indicates that the watch can operate for up to one year in a low-light environment if it is fully charged and used sparingly. I couldn’t find any information about this movement on ETA’s site and trust the user’s manual for this.
At first, the digital functions were not completely intuitive to navigate and I had to get the manual out a few times to make sure I understood the abbreviations. Yes. I’m the guy who doesn’t read the instructions unless it’s necessary.
Press and hold the button at 3 o’clock to activate the touch functions. When you do, you’ll see T-Touch flash at the top of the digital window. Now, all you do is touch the crystal under the word matching the function you want to use.
Meteo, or weather mode, shows the weather trend. So, hold the button at 3, see the blinking T-Touch and tap under the word meteo at 12 o’clock. The hour and minute hands swing into action and land at a spot somewhere between the 11 and 1 o’clock markers.
The hands will move from 11 to 1 to show the shift in pressure or trend. If the hands point to 11, it’s sensing low pressure or cloud cover. As the pressure rises and clouds clear, the hands will move toward the 1 o’clock marker. This function is really meant to be a guide at a glance, but you can also look up at the clouds.
The digital display can show the absolute and relative atmospheric pressure values. Absolute atmospheric pressure is the actual pressure at the time and place of measurement, and cannot be altered. Relative pressure can be set on the watch and depends on your location relative to sea level.
Tap at 2 o’clock and get a barometric altimeter, displaying the altitude relative to mean sea level using the absolute atmospheric pressure mentioned earlier. There’s also an altitude difference reading you can use to measure your assent or decent.
Tap at the 4 o’clock for the chronograph, 8 and 10 for the alarm and timer and you got normal Ironman options, but the compass at 6 o’clock is really cool. The hour and minute hands swing into action forming one line with the longer minute hand pointing north immediately with the digital read out of the degrees. Set it down on its side for a minute and the hands reset to the time display.
The alarm function had two alarm settings and a small detail that I appreciated. The alarm would sound, and wait few seconds before going off repeatedly. This is perfect for the reminder without the obnoxious repeat.
There are more functions to this watch that you want to know about before buying it. I found the manual on the Tissot site to be very helpful to understand its potential.
I do love how light weight this watch is, but not in a Luminox way. (See Neal’s most recent story here.) This watch doesn’t feel like a toy either. The sapphire crystal and titanium case smash those ideas, but if there’s one large draw back in this outdoor hiking tool watch, it’s the luminescence. The hour and minute hands have some initially, but it doesn’t last long. There is a basic luminescence on the digital read, but it is not what I would expect. I do love some Indigo glow like my $40 Timex.
The strap on this watch was really easy to operate with the brushed and signed titanium butterfly clasp. It has a textured interior matching the dial’s photovoltaic pattern and seems to provide some grip. It was easy to operate, but has to be cut to be fitted to your wrist. They provide you several grooved guides in the rubber to guide the cuts on both ends. This should create some pause for those who don’t read instructions or do not measure twice to cut once. Please don’t wing it here.
The other weak link on the strap is the plastic butterfly clasp that holds the rubber to the titanium buckle. I understand the need to keep down the weight, but this has to be one of more critical points on the watch. This part of the strap reminded me of that guy driving down the highway with a mattress tied to his car’s roof. You know the guy. He has his left arm out the window holding the mattress while steering with the other hand.
If that plastic piece on the strap breaks like the twine holding down the mattress, finding a replacement strap seems pretty easy to find.
Tissot has twenty watches in its Touch collection with six different categories and multiple variations of straps and bracelets. I found this could be a solid addition to my watch drawer since it offers some of the functions I would use on my weekend warrior trips. I like the case weight and found comfort in the strength of the sapphire crystal, the novelty of the touch screen along with the environmentally friendly rechargeable power.
On the negative side, I was concerned about the plastic butterfly clasp and the permanent sizing of the rubber strap since it has to be cut to fit. I think the luminescence functions could be better also. Despite all these, the biggest obstacle for me was the retail price for this watch since its functions can be found in watches at the $500 range, albeit not in titanium cases.
Still, I want this watch. It’s big, lightweight, feels indestructible and is easy to read. Tissot offers free shipping on their site, with a limited 2-year warranty and it retails for $1,150. tissotwatches.com
- Brand & Model: T-Touch Solar T091.420.47.051.00
- Price: $1,150
- Who we think it might be for: This is for the weekend warrior who buys the gadgets and uses them in the woods a few times a year. You know who you are.
- Would I buy one for myself based on what I’ve seen?: I would consider buying one if I saw them at half the price.
- If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: Please work on the luminescence. Don’t entice me outside with this watch and make it hard to read at night.
- What spoke to me the most about this watch: I really love the idea that you can wrap this touch technology in a titanium and sapphire shell.
- Brand Model: T-Touch Solar T091.420.47.051.00
- Movement (technology): ETA E84.303
- Size of case diameter (mm):45mm x 45mm
- Height of case: 13mm
- Weight: 79g
- Case material: Titanium w/ PVD coating
- Crystal/Glass material: Sapphire Crystal
- Water resistance (m/ft/atm): 100m/330ft/10bar
- Strap/Bracelet material: Black Rubber Strap with Butterfly clasp with push buttons
- Illumination: Yes
- Battery: Renata LMR2018
- Functions: Altimeter, Altitude Difference Meter, Compass, Regatta, Countdown Timer, Chronograph Split and Lap (log book), 2 Alarms, Backlight, Second Time Zone, Perpetual Calendar with day and week indicator, and accumulator charge indicator.