Quartz favorites

As an eclectic collector of watches the subject of favorites is always somewhat fluid, simply because my collection changes.  Some models are sold on, others bought and so my “favorites” might change over the years, though I confess that over the last few years my two favorite Quartz models have remained unchanged.  However with my latest addition of the Tissot Expert T-Touch Solar, I might have to make it three favorites, though it will still be on probation as it were.  It takes time for any watch model to gain this exalted position and I’ll see how it fares in 6 months time.  I know my two firm favorites will still be there, but will the Tissot?

Anyway here are my two established favorites and with the reasons (to me) of why they are my favorites.

My Quartz favorites - The Breitling Aerospace and the Citizen AT World Time

My Quartz favorites – The Breitling Aerospace and the Citizen AT World Time

The first, on the left, is my Breitling Aerospace model that I bought about 15 years ago and effectively my daily beater ever since.  It’s well traveled, having been around the world a few times and often in places that you wouldn’t send your dog.  A fitting testament to the longevity of a Titanium case and solid bracelet is that it still looks great!  It has one bezel screw missing I note and I’m pretty sure that was when I had it in for a service some years ago, though I never noticed until about 6 months ago.  The sapphire crystal is unmarked with not even the tiniest scratch on it and the casing and bracelet seem almost as new.  I do note the bezel has a smoothness to it which has to be cuff wear (if you could call that wear) and that’s about the only thing that says it’s not showroom.
Why I bought it in the first place was that this was a multi-function model with only a single crown (I don’t like much the conventional chronograph pushers) and the dial clarity stood out even in the shop window.  The fact that the deceptively exterior hides a really good digital function set and a high quality movement was of course the true bonus.  In fact I’d set this against any of today’s quartz models.
It’s over a year since I last adjusted this which was during the Winter to Summer Time change and instead of just moving the Hour, I corrected the time as well and checking it today, it’s running just 32 seconds fast – and that’s impressive.

Breitling Aerospace Quartz - one of the clearest dials you'll ever see.

Breitling Aerospace Quartz – one of the clearest dials you’ll ever see.

However back to the watch – First the standard dial view shows the Time in analog and I have it set to show the Day and Date on the highly visible Fluorescent digital display.  Using the center crown you can show the Seconds plus Date, the Time in Hours, Minutes and Seconds, Alarm Time, Chronograph, Dual Time or T2 in Hrs/Mins/Secs, and Timer.  When setting the Time, this is done via the crown which has both turn and push functions and the analog hands follow as required.  Each function is accompanied by an icon/text on the upper digital display to confirm your selection and all functions are selected and controlled by that single Crown.
For night use the hands, indices and numerals are coated in excellent and effective luminous material, though there is no back light so there is no digital vision in the dark.  However I only ever want to see the time at night so no worries for me.
The Breitling is also a very neat size at 40mm diameter and with only 9mm depth is sleek to say the least in comparison with more modern watches, even Breitling.  The Sapphire crystal with anti-reflect coatings plus the dial layout with no inner reflections make this one of the clearest watches you will ever see and the minute hand with it’s pivot overhang gives a subtle clarity when reading the time.

Probably if honest this is my absolute favorite and it certainly gets the most wrist time of all my watches.

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Favorites in Quartz

Favorites in Quartz

My second “favorite” is this quartz Citizen Eco-Drive World Calendar A-T CB0020-09E and in my opinion one of the best models ever produced (and still produced) by Citizen.  It is 45mm diameter including the crown but only 11mm in depth and at 49mm lug to lug and whilst it appears larger is actually an easy fit even on small wrists.  Stainless Steel case and 200m Water Resistance with screw down crown, Radio Controlled (5 receivers) and Solar Powered (Eco-Drive) it’s a true wear and forget watch.  No battery worries, always accurate to the second and has a superb World Time analog function that’s simply unbeatable in operation.

Good luminous hands and indices, a Date aperture @3, which features a Perpetual Calendar plus a quick indicator of the Radio Control state.  It will receive a signal starting at 2am and with this particular watch even worn continuously it manages to pick up the signal every time (no need for standing on a window ledge overnight), despite a considerable distance from the nearest transmitter in Germany ( I live in Scotland).  This is a point I have noticed before when checking Casio and Citizen – the Citizens appear to have greater sensitivity.  The signal can be verified using the pusher @4, one push and the Second hand acts as a pointer and indicates on the option window @9 (yes or no) and of course there is a manual option which is – push and hold.  Summer and Winter Time adjustments are Automatic, but have an ON/Off option and if you pull the crown to position 2 it will indicate if this is selected on the small window between 4 and 5.

The Citizen AT World Time - the very best for traveling.

The Citizen AT World Time – the very best for traveling.

For travel it’s simplicity itself.  Simply pull out the center crown to position 1.  The Second hand will instantly point to your Home Time Zone (in the UK it’s London) which is noted around the fixed bezel.  The Time Zones are also marked on the outer ring within the dial.  To change the Time Zone, simply turn the crown and the seconds hand will point to the City Time Code you wish, then push in the Crown.  The analog hands will immediately move to the correct time for that Zone – and that’s it – done!  Possibly the easiest travel time setting you’ll ever meet – I love it.

Now - does the Tissot T-touch warrant a "favorite" title - well maybe time will tell . . .

Now – does the Tissot T-touch warrant a “favorite” title – well maybe time will tell . . .

My model has a very flexible Citizen rubber/silicon deployment band with a twin button release and is very comfortable and I almost forgot, IF you need to change the Date (though you should never have to as it’s Automatic and Perpetual anyway) it can be adjusted with a small pin push just above the crown.
I’ve had this watch now for 5 years and it’s never missed a beat and is as good as new – what can I say?  In fact if honest I rarely use the many functions that are available on watches these days and the Citizen does what I want.  And as I do travel a bit to various Countries even today, the Time Zone change function is perfect for me.

So for a good few years now those two have been my wearable “favorite” quartz models and I’m toying with the idea of adding the Tissot Solar T-Touch Expert – though that’s a still a “maybe” for at least the next 6 months.   But one thing I do know – the two models featured above will still be there as my quartz favorites whatever the outcome of any new acquisition and that’s a fact . . . .

Tissot – the Ultimate ABC ?

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 showing standard view (optional calendar shown). Note - business week Number option available.

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.

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 backlight for digital display is excellent.

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.

Compass mode - Hands become True North pointer. The digital display indicates angle in degrees between the 12 o'clock and the True North pointer. Declination can be set in menu.

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.

Dislikes –

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 –

Note the digital display on lower dial half is OFF. This is Eco mode which occurs if the controls are not operated for an hour between 22:00 and 05:00hrs. To switch display ON, touch any control.

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

Big booklet in 17 languages

Decent print size on instructions manual

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.

Quote –

“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. . . . .”