Having had a number of Compass and ABC models, both mechanical and digital, this month sets a milestone for me. This is because I’ve at last got myself a watch I’ve always wanted ever since it was announced last year. The solar version of the Tissot Expert “Touch” – and what I call the finished article at last from Tissot. Whilst the Expert Touch was around and OK, it always seemed a little bit “first generation” to me until this lovely piece of engineering appeared. And even though the watch diameter is slightly larger, it scores in every other department. And unlike the Casio models this manages some 26 functions including the ABC functions with just 3 pushers and no exterior sensors, so exterior wise is pretty sleek.
Tissot Solar T-Touch Expert on standard view (optional calendar shown). Best Compass watch?
How does it do all this? Well the secret lies in the sapphire “Active” crystal which has 7 areas of “touch” sensitivity from which most functions operate. Tissot in my opinion have managed a real step up in functionality and successfully managed to de-clutter the whole operating interface.
The Tissot Solar T-Touch Expert is well finished, comparatively sleek and rather attractive with its combination of mechanical and digital function that at first touch takes your breath away – or it did mine. They’ve moved on from the original T-Touch models and revised functionality. For instance they have removed the Temperature indication which I’ve always thought unnecessary as you have to take the watch off the wrist for 20 minutes before any sensible ambient temperature reading can be realized. So not just a solar version, but a serious rethink and redesign and I commend Tissot for taking this approach.
Outdoor wrist shot – no studio here, but as it is.
Dimensions are slightly larger at 45mm diameter (47mm including the crown) and it looks quite imposing as the bezel being relatively small in width, it seems to be all dial – and what a dial. Fortunately the watch is only 14mm depth and the lug to lug at 52mm means it can still fit most wrists, except perhaps the very smallest. My wrist is 170mm and it fits – just – and as it’s all Titanium, it’s so light you don’t even know your wearing it.
It’s the analogue display where this model scores – indeed it’s a masterpiece of understatement – it is uncluttered and deceptively simple. The broad hour and minute hands are luminous and have great contrast against the black dial background. The upper half of the dial has a black carbon-like texture which is not carbon fiber but the solar panel and the lower half is the digital display, which can show a considerable amount of data. The digits are quite large and in gold fluorescent against a black background and visible in all light situations.
Luminous hands and selectable back light for digital display is excellent.
At night or in darkness there’s also an excellent light system and the digits easily read. This coupled with excellent luminous hands and markers means it’s very good indeed in the dark and without fanfare or fuss.
Without doubt the dial is a real surprise especially if you’re more used to the Casio style of display set up.
As said this is an “Active” or “touch” sensitive glass and using it is a delight, as the response is both positive and amazingly rapid. And there are basically 7 “Active” areas on the glass. 6 around the dial indicated by the large “shield” markers plus the text on the bezel edge and the 7th active point is at the center.
The 6 functions from the top and clockwise are Meteo (barometric pressure), Altimeter, Chrono, Compass, Alarms (2) and Timer.
To use any of these functions firstly you have to “activate” the touch glass – and this is simply done with a 1 sec touch on the crown @3 and acknowledged by a flashing T-Touch icon on the display. If you then touch any of the 6 areas, the selected function will indicate by the hands instantly moving to form a pointer. And here I have to say that actions speak louder than words – as there is so much to explain, I can see why videos are the preferred review – just seeing it done, says all.
Before going on however I should explain that the standard dial view is as follows – The Hour and Minute hands show the Analog Time (T1) and the digital display shows the Date, Month, Year with the Day on the right upper line of the digital display – as shown in image (2). This is the setting I use, though you can instead have the digital display show the Time (T1 or T2) including seconds.
If we start with the center touch functions – after you activate the glass ( 1 sec press on the crown for 1 sec). Touch the center (1) and the digital display changes and now reads the Time (T1) which will usually be your home time. If that’s all you do, then the time and the hands will read the same time. But if you touch the center again (2) (whilst the dial is active) then the display changes to T2 or the second time zone. This might be where you are traveling to and a useful travel function is that you can Swap the two times and the hands will instantly change to T2, rather than T1 – ideal for air travel. When you are on your way back you can swap them back again to your home time T1 analog and T2 on digital.
Touch the center again (3) and this calls up the Battery State indicator, touch again (4) and this selects a sub menu, which I’ll explain later. If you don’t touch anything for 20 seconds the dial will go inactive. Note the watch features a Perpetual Calendar and auto sets itself for the months. The upper and lower pushers are basically + and – controls when using the Stopwatch, setting times, alarms and timers and so on. On occasion the + pusher is used for other functions such as the Swap feature where the T1 is substituted for T2 etc. The Crown pusher is used firstly to Activate the glass and also cycle through various menus once selected and to validate settings. Sounds complicated but in use it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it.
BEST COMPASS – Hands are True North pointer. Digital display is angle in degrees between 12 o’clock and True North pointer. Declination can be set in menu.
I suppose the Compass function is the most impressive as it actively uses the hands as a single North/South pointer, just like a conventional pivot compass, whilst the digital display indicates the direction @12. You can also set Azimuth as an option whilst in Compass mode.
Generally when you select a function via Touch, the Hands instantly form a pointer and point to that function text, so indicating your selection. Cleverly however and I love this, if it is pointing say at the Chrono or Alarm, after it initially points to your function it then quietly eases itself to a horizontal position, so as not to obscure the view of the display, which is really neat.
I’ll not go into the various functions as you can easily download the instructions to see how this watch works, but suffice to say it works flawlessly and is very impressive to say the least. I also would comment that it’s nice to have a model with all these what I call outdoor functions but without the outdoor look. Also not having to wear a large piece of plastic resin for once, but something more akin to a traditional watch is rather nice. It’s also very classy, elegant but with real presence as it is a substantial chunk of solid smooth Titanium. My version has a rubber strap with a very neat deployment clasp. Unlikely to change it as it is a rather bespoke Tissot fit, though knowing me, if it does break or go brittle in time I’m sure I’ll find a way . . . 😉
In the meantime it is a very comfortable strap indeed and I don’t foresee any issues at all.
As far as the Solar and battery aspect is concerned, apparently once charged it will manage to keep working just fine for up to a year in a low light environment. The Water Resistance is 10Bar or 100m, though it should be noted that the Touch functions will NOT operate if the glass is in contact with water. It is not a divers watch.
The watch case if I forgot to say is solid and all Titanium and the 3 x pushers are surface coated Ti also (not plastic). The watch is very solid yet light at 80gms (2.8oz) complete with strap and once on your wrist it’s virtually forgotten. The ABC features of the watch are really very good and there are options with every one of them, so is a very comprehensive and well thought out function set.
General notes on the functions –
T1 and T2 – this can show two separate times and normally used as Home Time and Dual Time zone and very useful when traveling. The analog hands usually show T1, though this can be swapped for T2 when traveling and the hands then will indicate T2.
Altimeter – once selected it displays for 10 hours continuously and options wise you can Preset your Altitude and there are Altitude difference readings with sequential readings every 2 seconds – Elapsed or Stopped Time, Total cumulative Altitude Gain, Mean Vertical speed of ascent in metres/min or feet/min, Total cumulative Altitude Loss, Mean Vertical speed of descent and Elapsed time or Stopped Time. As I say very comprehensive.
Meteo – or Barometric Pressure function the hands are superimposed to indicate the Weather Trend and the Relative and Absolute Barometric pressures are indicated.
Chrono function measures Lap Times which can be stored and recalled for Total Race Time statistics (max timing limit 99 days, 23 hours and 99 seconds) and Split Times can be recorded.
Alarms – There are 2 separate Alarm functions and used with the main time T1. An Alarm last 30 seconds without repeating. Alarms are stopped by pressing any control.
Timer – This is a countdown Timer with a range of up to 99 days, 23 hours, 59 minutes, 59 seconds. There is also a Regatta setting which incorporates a 0 to 10 minute countdown for timing the run-up to the start of a regatta. When the countdown reaches 0, the watch switches to Chrono mode for the race.
If the watch if not being worn for a while there is a Standby Mode option where you simply select Eco – Switch OFF, the hands point to 12 and the display goes blank in 5 seconds which economises the battery. Again touch any control and the watch reverts to normal function.
My likes –
I like the fact that after a very short while it is very intuitive to operate and I can leave the instructions at home!
I like the clean lines, how it wears and how it fits the wrist.
I like the Eco function which can be set to automatic, thus saving battery life overnight, if no watch operations or movement detected.
I like the excellent night vision luminous hands and the digital back light – both are simple and effective.
Not really a dislike, though perhaps my preference would be for a standard strap fitting, but hardly an issue.
Price maybe, though I’m not complaining as there’s truly not another Ana/Digi ABC model like it – period!
As I say it is easier to review the watch and it’s functions by seeing it in action, which is why video is perhaps the best way of illustrating the watch functions and I hope to make a small video, though with my poor video skills I hesitate . . . However I’ll give it a go and see what happens and hope to post it later in the month. Maybe . . . .
Other images –
Display is OFF. This is the Eco mode which activates if no operation or movement is detected in any hour period between 22:00 and 05:00hrs. To switch ON touch any control.
There is also a feature called Synch, where IF for any reason (strong magnetic influence or severe knocks) the hands are out of synch with the time or don’t align properly when superimposed as a pointer, this can be adjusted in the settings menu. In short Tissot seem to have thought of about everything.
So what do I think about my last purchase for 2014? Well OK it was pricey but I am very pleased with it. I unpacked it from it’s pack from Switzerland just the other day, noted the large user instruction booklet (17
Big booklet in 17 languages
Decent print size on instructions manual
languages and decent size print, by the way), took off the protective stickers, sorted out the strap to fit my wrist and strapped it on. A week later and it’s still on my wrist so that probably says it all.
However as to my video review, it may take some time as my video skills are just about non-existent and it may take a little time – if ever. It is an exciting watch this Solar T-Touch and I’m looking forward to some time with it and as to the instruction booklet. I note the pages are held loosely and have a tendency to too easily rip out (as you can see in the image they have perforations spine side) so I might just take out the English pages (40) and bind them separately.
It’ll be easier on my wrists and biceps I’m sure! 😉
Update – see commentary 2nd Nov 2014 on side bar.
“And this is what I truly like about the T-Touch. Display wise each function has total exclusivity on the dial when called up. There is nothing else is on the dial except your selected function. And this is a real plus and something that no other ABC watch model has. Perhaps this is why the watch is described on the back as a “Smart Watch” – because of this exclusive display of only selected information. I’m surprised this feature is not emphasized by Tissot as I am certain they have missed a trick here by not doing so, as it’s an aspect that only once you see it do you realize it’s true significance and in my opinion one of the features that really does blow the competition away. . . . .”