I was surprised when I got this Sportourer Touch Beat watch from Selle Italia. The company is mostly known for their bicycle seats and actually has a line of seats with the “Sportourer” name. Then ll of a sudden they come out with a digital/analog watch that has a heart rate monitor. Cool.

Just having a heart rate monitor watch wasn’t enough for them. Being the style conscious Italians that they are, it was their desire to have a watch that didn’t make you look like someone devoid of taste while wearing it. Truthfully, most heart rate monitor watches are ugly as sin (with some exceptions of course from brands like Suunto.). At the same time, the watch needed to not cost a fortune. So the goals were simple, highly functional exercise watch, have heart rate monitor, and look decent if worn in public. And in all that I think they succeeded.

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The Sportourer Touch Beat is one of the most decent looking exercise watches I have ever seen. This is due not only to its slick styling that makes it look less plasticy, but also because of the cleverly designed combo digital/analog face, as well as the dual use heart rate monitor.

Size wise the Touch Beat isn’t a tiny watch, but isn’t massive in appearance. The polycarbonate and steel case is 47mm wide by 51mm call. It has a satinized and textured polyurethane  strap similar to what you’ll find on some Casio watches. The watch is water resistant to 50 meters with a steel back. It is very comfortable and feels lighter than it is given the lightness of the strap. Crystal is mineral. The quartz movement uses an easy to find CR2032 Lithium battery.

You can think of the watch as having two movements. The crown located at two o’clock operates the analog time, and the pushers control the digital screen that serves as most of the dial. Using a negative LCD display, the watch looks pretty nice. Around the periphery of that screen are applied hour markers that have been coated with luminant, as well as individual minute markers.

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Of course, the style cues also detract a bit from legibility – and this can’t really be avoided. Having this watch does requite some sacrifice when it comes to function, but not much. If anything, the most obvious element here is that the dark LCD display is tough to read in some light. Thankfully there is a black light (which I just discovered is activated by pushing the lower pushers on the left and right side of the case at the same time – that was not obvious). Plus, the Sportourer as thinly skeletonized hands – that help a bit.

Functionally the Touch Beat does a lot – and feels well engineered. The people making this watch did the best given the available information on the screen. Though to properly learn how to use most of the functions, you’ll need to study the manual. Good thing it is written rather well and explains the functions in a way that doesn’t leave you frustrated. If you want the LCD screen to be all black for a cleaner look on the dial, you can do that to. Here is a brief list of watch functions. After that I want to tell you some cool things about the heart rate monitor functionality.

The Sportourer Touch Beat watch has:

  • Dual time display (analog digital showing the same time or different)
  • Calendar
  • Stopwatch
  • Countdown timer
  • Alarm
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Exercise log features with max/min heart rate, approx. calories burned, and work out timer.

The exercise log features take the heart rate information and time of workout information to come up with the approximate calories burned. This is just a guide really – as information such as age and weight is also useful in calculating this data. Having said that, no device can really accurately measure calories burned for a specific person. You can use it for goals and trends. So if the watch says you burned “500” calories during one workout, and “550” the next time – you improved no matter what you actually burned.

Heart rate is measured in two ways – and this is something where the watch stands out for me. First is continuous heart rate monitoring via the torso strap. You’ve seen these before. You strap the battery powered monitor with its two contacts to your middle section via a strap. The strap is fine, but those from dedicated heart rate monitor watch brands like Suunto will be a bit higher quality. Having said that, it works just fine for most use. If you don’t want to wear the strap, or need continuous monitoring, you can have the watch do a single reading that does not requite the torso strap.

All you need to do is put the watch in HR mode (you know this because you see the little heart shape on the screen. Now put your thumb and index finger on either sides of the watch, making sure they are both touching the metal. The watch will beep when it starts to take a heart rate reading. Leave you fingers there for about five second, and the watch will beep when it is done and display your heart rate. How cool is that?! Sportourer says the Touch Beach watch is accurate to withing one beat per minute. I am not sure what other watches have this touch function for the heart rate monitor. I am sure a few others do, but I am not as much an expert of fitness watches… as I… (whispering) … don’t wear a watch to the gym mostly. Though I have tested fitness watches before, so I am not not speaking from inexperience.

You’d think that Selle Italia would have given the Sportourer some bicycle functions right? Like a tire pressure gauge on the watch (that would be cool actually). Aside from being a good fitness watch (that you can use easily while riding a bike), there is nothing specially made for cyclists. Overall I really like this watch and easily recommend it if you are feeling engaged by its looks and functions. With the heart rate monitor torso strap, the Sportourer Touch Beat HR watch retails for $200.

Learn more here.

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