Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar — A New Chapter In Connected Watches
For decades now, watch brands have been focusing on mechanical pieces and not quartz anymore. Still, the technology that once drove the Swiss industry to its knees is still present, albeit in a very different way. Many brands — large, small, and even micro — still use quartz movements here and there. However, there’s a new wave for “electronic” watches. As smartphones and laptop computers developed, so too did the scope of inter-device connectivity. It was only a matter of time before watchmaking caught on. Thanks to watches like the all-new Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar, Swatch Group, this segment continues to push the envelope.
Granted, the Swiss brand was not the first to release a smartwatch, connected or otherwise (who remembers the Frederique Constant Horological Smartwatch). However, with its brand new T-Touch Connect Solar, the industry stalwart doesn’t only amend this long-awaited delay but, rather, strides a step further. The watch, as its name suggests, is now a connected timepiece with all the advantages this technology can offer to the watch industry.
The first Tissot T-Touch hit the market in 1999. For over 20 years, this line has been ever-present. It has also been an extraordinary, too-often overlooked chapter in the brand’s history.
In case you are not familiar with the basic concept, let me bring you up to speed. The T-Touch has a tactile interface under the sapphire crystal. By tapping certain areas on the glass, the display above the 6 o’clock position shows the given function. These functions include timing, navigation, meteorological information, and so on. I reviewed an earlier version of the Tissot T-Touch (Expert Solar II), in which I talked about these features in detail.
However, this all-new Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar brings something innovative to the table. It combines the functionality of the older T-Touch timepieces with connected functions, such as an activity tracker. This expansion of connectivity is afforded by the interaction between the watch and your smartphone (iOS, Android, and Harmony operating systems supported).
Next to the essential T-Touch functions, the Connect Solar offers Activity (steps, calories, distance) as well as app notifications and updates. You can read your latest Whatsapp message on the Connect Solar’s screen, or see your Facebook updates. If someone calls your phone, the display shows the name of the caller. You have the option to either mute the watch (it will stop vibrating) or cancel the call from your watch. How? Just tap your Connect Solar’s crystal.
Tissot is proud to release the T-Touch Connect Solar as a Swiss Made connected watch. That means, that the watch, its Sw-ALPS operating system, and the data storage comes from Switzerland. Neither the Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar nor the apps send data to a third party. In a time when data protection is a hot-button issue, this is really important.
The early Tissot T-Touch models were battery operated. The more recent models, like the aforementioned Expert Solar II, have relied on solar power. As you have probably inferred from the name, the Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar uses the latter energy source. This means that you don’t need to worry about changing the battery in it. Photovoltaic cells occupy a significant part of the dial. These also come from Switzerland — from CSEM in Neuchatel to be exact.
This technology allows the watch to run almost indefinitely in non-connected mode and for many months while connected. If you use the watch regularly, you will never have to worry about charging it. However, the packaging contains a charger in case you ever need one. One cool side note is that most of the T-Touch Connect Solar’s features are available even when the watch has no connection to the phone.
If you want to use every function of your Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar, you need its T-Connect app on your phone. This is the world’s first connected watch that supports Huawei’s new Harmony operating system in addition to the usual iOS and Android. The watch does not require the phone for most of its functions. However, if you choose not to connect your device to your T-Touch Connect Solar, it works just like a Solar Expert. Most of the features that you can set or edit on the watch, you can also do on the app. Additionally, it makes changing some of the features faster and easier.
You might miss a few options other smart/connected watches offers. On the one hand, Tissot assured us that new features would come gradually over the course of the next few months and years. On the other hand, the brand was keen to keep the essence of the T-Touch — a watch for active people with functions that everyone and anyone might find useful.
Usually, we start our articles by talking about the looks of a watch. In his instance, the connectivity function takes the first few paragraphs here. Still, we are going to look at the overall design of the Connect Solar. Tissot went above and beyond with this timepiece. The case is titanium with either black PVD or rose-gold coating. You can get the Tissot T-Touch on a rubber strap or matching titanium bracelet. My watch is the PVD version on a rubber strap, and notwithstanding its large 47mm case size, the watch is only 90gramms.
Yes, this is not a small timepiece, but this mostly has to do with the solar cells, as well as the size of the display that has to be large enough to be legible. The surfaces have satin finishing and softened edges. The bezel is engraved in black ceramic. Despite its size, it’s a comfortable watch.
As you’d have it with a regular timepiece, the Connect Solar has a crown and two pushers. This is, however, an electric crown that functions as a multi-selector button. You can use it to select a given function or scroll it to change attributes. The purpose of the pushbuttons also varies depending on the task we selected. If you choose the chronograph function, for example, they start, stop, and reset as any other chronograph button would do. The start button, above the crown, also unlocks the MIP (Memory In Pixel) digital screen. The lower button functions as the backspace as well as the escape key on a keyboard. You can exit any function by pushing it. If you swipe your finger down from the 12 o’clock to the six, the T-Touch Connect Solar locks its screen and dial.
Price and more
The Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar is a virtually indestructible watch with many useful features. I cannot wait to see what Tissot rolls out next in terms of further functions. Though, in the meantime, the watch still offers a lot at an affordable price. For now, we only have the Swiss retail prices in CHF, but Euro prices should be similar. The cheapest version of the Connect Solar is 995 CHF, and the most expensive version (I’m guessing, titanium on bracelet) is CHF 1,125 CHF. For what the watch has to offer regarding the technical background, the research that went into developing these models, as well as the materials used in them this is a very fair price, in my opinion. If you liked the earlier Tissot T-Touch models, you’ll surely love this one. Nevertheless, if you did not know them, now is the time to get familiar with the model line.
For news on this model as well as other Tissot watches, visit the brand’s website by clicking on this link.