As per the title says this article is not about the latest iPhone extension screen, as well known as ‘smart watch’. It however, details a tool watch. A purposely-built object for the ones in need of a companion during their (adventurous) journeys. The anomaly is that while it is not a smartwatch, it is a very smart watch. In terms of functions that is. Tissot released their T-Touch series almost 20 years ago (1999) and while some say the concept is outdated they are still among the strong sellers of the brand. The T-Touch is a tool watch, or rather instrument for your inner diver, sailor, adventurer. So, I left the Ballade at home grabbed the new Tissot T-Touch Expert Solar II and took it to an 11-km hike in the Black Forrest. You can’t say I did not do my best.
Tissot T-Touch Expert Solar II
My Casio was able to do a bunch of these things like 10 years ago – I hear you say while looking through the specifications of the watch and you might be right. Many of these features you will find in the G-Shock range and other (digital) tool quartz watches. Yet, I believe that Tissot managed to squeeze the right amount and versatility of features into the T-Touch Expert Solar II. Besides, is your Casio G-Shock has solar power and has a touch crystal? I don’t think so. I’m not trying to compare the two as I truly feel that both have a place in the watch market…and on our wrists. The Tissot T-Touch has a relatively long history and it is a great tool watch (and by the way, here’s our previous review of the former Tissot T-Touch Exper Solar). It surely doesn’t measure your steps but does a bunch of cool stuff. So, let’s see what are these:
The Tissot T-Touch Expert Solar II, as you know, has a sapphire crystal with a touch sensor. You can activate the crystal by pushing the crown. Around the edge of the dial you see 6 menu points with an additional one in the center; altimeter, chrono, compass, alarm, timer and meteo around and time in the center. Each menu has more than one feature though. Furthermore the crystal also serves as the solar panel for the charger. The Tissot T-Touch Expert Solar II has a built-in battery that gains energy from the sun and artificial lights. The watch also saves energy over night and if not used for a longer period of time. When fully charged and used lightly the T-Touch can operate for almost a year in low light conditions. However if you expose it to sunlight outdoors for about 7 minutes the watch will run all day.
To access the functions one must press the crown. When you hear the beep the touch sensor as active and you can choose your functions. Each menu point holds multiple tasks. You can select them by taping on the name once, twice or 3 times (more in Settings). Now let’s run through and see what each feature contains:
Times: click to the center of the dial to see the date displayed above the 6 o’clock in the quartz display. 2nd tap brigs out the first time zone (local time) and the 3rd tap shows you the second time zone. 4th tap displays the battery level and 5th tap is for the Settings.
Meteo: first tap is for relative pressure, 2nd is for absolute pressure.
Altimeter: as its name would suggest the first 1 displays how high we are from sea level and the 2nd position is for the altitude difference meter.
Chrono: in the first position you can use the watch like a regular lap time chronograph. If you access the second function it becomes a split time chronograph.
Compass: as you’d expect the first tap is for the regular compass while the second one is for the azimuth while the 3rd tap will log you in to the calibrator of the compass.
Alarm: in alarm mode you can set 2 separate times. These times can signal you daily, on weekdays or on weekends.
Timer: tap Timer once and you can use the watch as a countdown timer. Tap it again and the watch will accesses to the regatta counter
If you want to use the watch under low light condition you can press the crown for 2 seconds to activate the light. Additionally the indexes and hands just like the numbers and directions on the bezel are luminescent.
A proper tool watch has to be pretty much bulletproof and rather indiscernible when worn. To meet these requirements, the T-Touch Expert Solar II has a titanium case that is 45 X 45mm and takes a 22mm curve-end rubber strap. The military green bezel that features the allocation of a compass (at the 12 there is an N for North at 6 and S for South etc.) and is made of scratch resistance ceramic. It is neither heavy or shiny, blending completely in the color scheme of the watch and especially the green strap. The crown and the chronograph pushers are square and integrated into the case. The watch is only 13mm thick so it sits comfortably on the wrist and due to its lightweight (78g) it is easy to wear. The case back is fixed with 4 screws and bears the usual information such as water resistance (100m), reference number etc.
Strap, pricing and more
As I mentioned above, the Tissot T-Touch Expert Solar II takes a 22mm strap. The OEM rubber band is curved to fit perfectly into the case shape if you fancy a nato for instance you can change it though. It is a soft but sturdy strap, I enjoyed wearing it. Even after hours on my wrist while hiking it did not irritate at all. All in all, the usage of equality materials specifies the watch. The whole piece just feels solid and quality. The price is also set to match this excellence as it is just under €1000 (at €995 in Germany). It is not a few-hundred Euro watch but for a Swiss quality timepiece with such history, features and quality it is still a fair price I believe. Keep in mind that due to it being solar you do not have to worry about changing batteries.
I would like to thank Tissot and Swatch Group Germany for the watch. Check out the Tissot T-touch Expert Solar II and other various Tissot models on their site. Go here for the official Tisssot website