I've come to accept that fact that I'll never really use the Tissot Sea-Touch watch to its full capacity. With at least a third of its features specifically made for underwater use, the dive instrument is but a dry reminder of where it wants to actually be while on land. That actually isn't bad, if you like the functionality of the Sea-Touch as a lifestyle item then you have quite watch. This isn't just a dive watch, this is a dive watch that really wants to dive - and that has to do with some of the computerized diving functions. The Sea-Touch is also very attractive, and it happens to position itself between pure diving computers and sophisticated Swiss timepieces.
For years Tissot has tempted even hardcore mechanical watch lovers with its T-Touch collection of multi-function touch screen watches. Using a pusher that "activates" the sapphire crystal, you have access to certain features by pressing on various parts of the dial. I previously did a hand's on review of the Tissot T-Touch Expert watch here, where you can learn more about this technology. This bona fide gadget watch is a serious cool toy and has found places on lots and lots of wrists. In 2009 Tissot released the Sea-Touch, the first diving version of the T-Touch collection, and it is one of my favorites.
What first attracted my attention to the Sea-Touch was the size and style. It was just really cool looking. Offered in a sporty black and orange on rubber, or more sober black and white version, it has a masculine look that combines just the right amount of tech and town for me. You could easily wear this watch in non-diving contexts and not be looked at strangely. This is actually a major point of the watch - to look universally good. Most people with taste will agree that while a Casio or Suunto multi-function watch is really cool, there are lots of times when it just isn't appropriate to wear one.
Tissot uses that strict Swiss sense of style and design to incorporate all the functionality into a slick watch that looks good with a suit. You know who did that first? Rolex. Now you wouldn't think twice if you saw someone with Submariner and tie. My favorite Sea-Touch is this version (ref. T0264201103101) with the mostly white dial with black trim. There is also another black and white version that is mostly black with white trim. What makes the dial design really sharp are the hands that stick out nicely without looking like orange eyesores. Because dive watches must inherently have hands that are easy to see in murky, low light conditions, often times dive watches have ugly obnoxious hands - not the case here.
According to Tissot the Sea-Touch abides by European EN 13319 diving watch norms for legibility, water resistance, anti-magnetism, shock resistance, durability, and other properties. This with 200 meters of water resistance means that you can not only dive with the watch, you should. According to Tissot the recommended maximum dive depth with the Sea-Touch is 100 meters. Perfectly fine with me, especially as earlier T-Touch models were known to have water resistance issues. The watch has slits in case back for air and water to enter to reach the sensors.
Lume on the dial is really great. Tissot applied luminant to the dial and bezel, as well as the hands of course. The SuperLumiNova is applied generously which is certainly a benefit to visibility. There is also the nice bright red backlight for the LCD screen that you can use. The hands seem to be the right length, which is really important in a watch that does so much more than tell the time with the hands.
From a function perspective you get a lot with any T-Touch family watch. Inside are Swiss quartz movements specially developed for Tissot by ETA. The combine an analog dial with a LCD screen. To operate the movement there are three pushers (rubber coated on this watch) as well as use of the receptive sapphire crystal. Inside the Sea-Touch is the ETA 48.301 movement which is a variation of the other T-Touch movements. To incorporate the diving features, some others have been removed that you can find on other watches such as the T-Touch Expert or T-Touch II. The Sea-Touch features include (in short): the time, second timezone, perpetual calendar, alarm, chronograph, temperature, compass, dive time meter, depth gauge, and logging functions. If you really want to know more about the movement's features and operation you can access the official Tissot Sea-Touch Instruction Manual here.
Using the movement is rather straight forward once you get used to it, and people with experience using other T-Touch watches will be right at home. For those who are new to the T-Touch, you need to press the center pusher on the side of the case to active the screen so that you can activate most of the functions. The dive functions are tough to explain thoroughly but make sense. There are two basic dive modes, manual and automatic. In manual mode you tell the watch that you are about to dive by activating the "Dive" function. The watch knows when it touches water and the dive time counter begins. The watch hands turn into the depth gauge using the bezel as a scale. The minute hand will show you your maximum depth while the hour hand indicates your current depth.
In automatic dive mode the watch automatically switches to dive mode when you are about one and a half meters under water. This seems to only effect the dive time. You can later use the log functions to recall info about your last dive. Also, while understand some, but not all of the features are usable. I do like that you can use the compass underwater though! For those who dive this info is all great. For those who don't, you can at least be prepared if someone ever pushes you into a pool.
Unlike my Tissot T-Touch Expert which is in titanium, the Sea-Touch is in steel. I like having both in my collection and think that a good dive watch should be in steel. The case is about 44.5mm wide and thick at almost 16mm. It is a robustly sized watch with a bold but no obnoxious stance. Comfort is impressive as I enjoy the flat caseback and how it sits on my wrist. In addition to the rubber strap the Sea-Touch has this option metal bracelet which looks very attractive. The links are mostly brushed with but some polished areas on the their bottom which makes for a interesting effect. Like a good dive watch bracelet it has some micro-adjust settings and a diver's extension clasp. The only thing I would ask for different is a milled deployment clasp versus one that is stamped metal.
While the Sea-Touch isn't the dive watch to end all dive watches I don't have any complaints with it really. Tissot did a very amicable job of turning the T-Touch into a real diver that goes into the depth and takes a liking. The added benefit is also a T-Touch that is more durable. I think most people can stand behind the design even if you don't agree it is always suitable for suit and tie occasions. Personally I like this one a lot and the price for the Tissot Sea-Touch watches range from $1,150 - $1,250. You can learn more or purchase them from Tissot online here.
Thanks to Tissot for the review unit. Opinions are 100% Independent.