Thursday, March 3, 2016

Tissot T-Touch Expert Solar Titanium T091.420.44.051.00 - A smart watch that has style and class; worth every bit, A Review

Up to this moment, I own two Tissot watches. Both I bought when I visited Switzerland back in 2011; the Tissot Gents T-Classic Le Locle (see: http://westernwatch.blogspot.com/2013/10/tissot-gents-t-classic-le-locle.html) and the Tissot Seastar II (see: http://westernwatch.blogspot.com/2014/02/tissot-seastar-ii-t55848311-refine.html). Before and since that purchase I have not looked at another Tissot because of the many issues relating to the brand from counterfeit all the way to the lack of serial numbers (Google it to find out more).

In recent years I have been attracted to one of Tissot's most famous series, the T-Touch after seeing being worn by Richard Hammond of the Top Gear fame. In all his overseas Top Gear adventures you will always see him with an orange strap Tissot T-Touch.

Although Tissot presented its first tactile multi-functional watch in 1999, it was only 15 year later, in 2014 that a T-Touch with solar power capability was introduced to the general public. I finally took the plunge and got myself a T-Touch Expert Solar Reference T091.420.44.051.00.



The Reveal
The watch box is an interesting rectangle cardboard construction. It measures 168 mm long, 115 mm wide and 85 mm tall. It is protected by a nice glossy white cardboard sleeve. This sleeve is printed with the brand name and logo at the top and printed with some images of Tissot’s iconic watches over the years.



The main watch box opens by a flap that hinges at the back. This flap is painted red whereas the rest of the box is printed in black. If you look at the back of the box you would see that is actually a small ‘bookshelf’ that fits in two small booklets. The first is Tissot brochure on it product listing and the second is a book on the history of the Tissot watch company.

There is a third book that was also given to me by the dealer, a thick user manual for the T-Touch watch. However, this is not the correct manual for this watch. What they gave me was for the previous model under the T-Touch Expert series. I would have to find time to go back to the shop to get it changed.


On opening the watch box, you will be greeted by the watch on its pillow in an all white interior.



Interestingly on both inner sides of the box are slots to put in smaller documents. Here is where the guarantee card is kept. For this watch I got a two (2) year international guarantee. There is also a small booklet on the sports fixtures for 2015 which I suspect Tissot supports. I think I will try to get it replaced with the 2016 fixtures when I go back to the shop.



The first thing I noticed when I picked up the watch was the disconnection between the size of the watch and its actual weight. At 45 mm across and a height of 13 mm coupled with a metal bracelet to fit a lug width 22 mm, it should have some heft to it. However, the use of titanium as the base material would only tip the scale at just 123 grams. Granted it is not heavy, its dimension in considerable nonetheless.



The T-Touch Expert is protected with anti-reflective sapphire crystals and constructed to resist water pressure up to 100 meters (about 330 feet). Underneath the front sapphire crystal glass is a black carbon fibre-like weaved dial. There are hours and minute markers around the edge of the dial. Two types of hours markers are used that are interspersed between the odd or even hours. These markers as well as the hour and minute hands are painted with SuperLuminova luminous paint. The only text on the dial are the brand name at top half of the dial and the words “Swiss Made” at the bottom edge of the dial in a much smaller font size. The bottom part of the dial is also the LCD screen.

Below is a shot of the luminosity of the SuperLuminova paint on the watch in total darkness which I found on the internet. I tried taking photos of my watch in the same conditions but my iPhone5 just could not capture it. However I can vouch that it was the same as that pictured below. The illumination also lasted for hours.



The fixed bezel is PVD black and has four large Arabic numerals at the quarter hours (3, 6, 9 and 12). It also has some text printed on the inner side of the bezel that highlight the various functions of the watch such as metrology (“METEO”), altimeter, compass, chronograph (“CHRONO”), alarm and timer. Meanwhile, the function key to access the various complications on the watch is located at the 3 o’clock position marked “T”. There are two other pushers marked “+” and “-“ on both sides of the function key. The function key and pushers are also PVD black like the bezel.

From a distance the watch looks like a normal analogue watch with easy to see dial with great legibility. Even though the hands are short, there is a high-level of contrast with the dial, which makes the T-Touch Expert Solar quite readable.



Although the pushers are partially shrouded by the case, I do note that there is a fairly sizable gap between the pusher and the case. Not big, maybe a few millimetres but that is enough for dirt to settle in and makes clean it a bit more troublesome.

The Functions
The dial and the tactile sapphire crystal that gives the T-Touch its name are the stars of this watch. The dial is divided neatly in half. The top comprises the solar cells that look almost like woven carbon fibre. The bottom half of the dial is the LCD display. Note that the LCD is an inverted screen which makes it blend better with the black woven carbon fibre half of the dial. The tactile sapphire crystal is divided into six sections and denoted by the function names printed on the inner side of the bezel. By tapping the various sections on the tactile sapphire crystal will allow the user to access the core functions.

The T-Touch Expert Solar is a very capable adventure watch, offering essential functions for everyday use such as a perpetual calendar with indication of day and week number, two alarms, two time zones, weather forecast with relative pressure, altimeter with difference meter, chronograph lap and split with logbook, compass with azimuth reference, timer with regatta function, and backlight.

For those of you new to the T-Touch, I would serious recommend you read the manual first. Even if you are familiar with the Casio Protrek, it is best to study the manual as the way Tissot design the interface is unique to the T-Touch. The 21 page manual (see the end of the review for a copy), is easy to comprehend. While the basics of activating the functions are pretty intuitive, the need to adjust the watch for nearly all of the complications once you take it out of the box for the first time is bothersome (Tissot calls it "Synchronization"). In my case I had to do it for the altimeter and the barometer.

The system of pushing the function key (let me refer to it as a ‘crown’ from now onwards) to activate the touch screen is easy, and the flashing ‘T-Touch’ logo on the LCD to indicate when the screen is live. By pressing on the function quadrants on the tactile sapphire crystal, both the hour and minute hands moves to point towards the chosen function when activated. I was made to understand from other reviewers that the speed of the hands moving into position is a vast improvement over earlier generation T-Touch. Even if I can’t give an honest comparison regarding the speed of activation due to lack of historical references from previous T-Touch models, from my point of view, it is still impressive.

The Movement
The new movement in the Tissot T-Touch Expert Solar is the ETA E84.305 and is the most advanced T-Touch movement to date. It not only incorporates solar power generation to the mix but also more energy storage, faster motors for the analogue hands as well as higher processing power. The improved responsiveness of the screen as well as the extremely fast movement of the hands makes it very desirable. The combination of such advancements makes for a much better user experience.



The case-back is screwed down by four screws at the four corners. Not decorated by any graphics but a lot of information about the watch is available on it such as its serial number etc.

The Bracelet
The T-Touch Expert Solar that I got comes with solid titanium bracelet. For some of you, to get a real good fit, you'll probably prefer the rubber or fabric strap option. I do agree with that choice but I personally prefer the bracelet option purely because of the price benefit. In Kuala Lumpur, the bracelet model has a MSRP of RM4,250 while the rubber strap version is RM4,050. For just RM200 difference you’ll get a titanium bracelet which you can then replace with a cheaper rubber or fabric strap option. Do note that the rubber strap option from Tissot would require you to cut the rubber strap to size which does not allow further resizing later. If given a choice on the strap option, the fabric strap (with a tang buckle) would be more useful in the long run. Although you can use after-market straps from other makers in the 22 mm category, because the end-link is unique to the T-Touch, you will see a noticeable gap between the strap and the watch casing.



The T-Touch Expert Solar on a bracelet looks purposeful and oozes the feeling of sophistication. The grey tone on the titanium creates the dark mystic emotion that puts it in the same league as the Omega Skywalker X-33. However, the titanium bracelet does not have a whole lot of micro-adjustment capacity. There are only two adjustment points made available on the clasp which doesn't quite have the precision typical of most bracelets (at least 3 adjustment points). On my wrist, it could not fit nicely so I resized it to be slightly loose (my wrist circumference is 7.5 inches).



The clasp is a double push button system with machined titanium bridge connecting the two halves of the bracelet. On the clasp is the Tissot logo etched in the center. There is another additional aspect to the clasp. There is a diver’s extension in the clasp that adds an additional 25 mm of length to the bracelet if required. Since the watch only has a 100 meter water resistance rating, the convenience of having a diver’s extension does not make sense. In fact, it you refer to the user manual (see at the end of this review), this watch is not suited for diving. In actual fact, the “diver’s extension” is actually an “adventurer’s extension” to be used above thick or winter clothing.


The Wearing Experience
The T-Touch Expert Solar is a sports watch under the ABC category – Altimeter, Barometer & Compass capable electronic watches. Competing brands under this category are the likes of Casio's Protrek series, Suunto’s Kailash, Traverse and Essential series, and Seiko’s Prospex Alpinist series (there are other brands with ABC capabilities but these three makers are Kings of this genre).




I am not an adventurer. My interest in this genre is purely the technology as well as the fact that I like watches. When I first started watch collecting my focus was only mechanical pieces. However, over the years, I have come to appreciate the contribution of quartz watches to the world of horology. In my view, Tissot’s T-Touch Expert Solar is a ‘milestone’ watch that deserves to be noted in the annals of horology.



Apart from the technology, it has style and it wears comfortably. The light titanium material is strong enough to withstand bumps against solid object although it is more susceptible to scratches compared to stainless steel. A pity that Tissot does not have stronger titanium alloy to protect against such events unlike Seiko’s “Diashield” titanium alloy which is much harder.



Wearing this watch in formal setting is not a problem. Its shape tends for it to slip easily under shirt cuffs. The functionality makes it more usable – not for any practical reason (in my case) but mostly for the fun factor.

After wearing this watch for over the week, I must say that this watch has an edge over the Casio Protrek (I can make the comparison as I do own one. See here: http://easternwatch.blogspot.co.id/2014/02/casio-protrek-adventure-titanium-triple.html). The Tissot looks good in many of situations that I am used to (unlike the Casio). Overall, a well designed and styled quartz/digital watch that looks good. Pricey, but worth it.



The E84 Manual




The Photo Gallery



























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6 comments:

  1. Very interesting blog, looking forward to more wonderful! tissot uk

    ReplyDelete
  2. Scratches on titanium are easily erased and buffed out with a 1000 sand paper or scratch sponges. Just brush it gently.
    It works great on mine. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  3. There is a chance you qualify for a new solar energy rebate program.
    Find out if you qualify now!

    ReplyDelete

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