This review of the Tissot T-Touch Expert is about the quartz watch that made quartz watches cool again. Years ago when I first began my acquaintance with mechanical watches, the notion that quartz watches were inferior began to develop. These less expensive, economy movements of mass production couldn’t hold ground to the growing fascination I was having with mechanical movements. Even though mechanical movements are less precise than their quartz contenders, I still feel a preference for the level of dedication and time that goes into mechanical watch creation.
I then realized how narrowly I was thinking – there is a place for quartz movements in my heart. Mechanical watches are amazing for what they are: wrist borne machines, wrought of history, tradition, and immense amounts of pride. What began as tools, evolved into status symbols and emotional objects of desire. You wear a mechanical watch when you want to smile with appreciation when glancing at your wrist. The quartz watch on other hand is a separate beast all together, and unfortunately shares the same title, “watch.” Perhaps a different name should be given to those quartz watches that don’t compete with mechanical watches, but rather fill in the gaps where mechanical watches cannot enter. A good quartz watch can be something altogether different that a mechanical one. They can do things mechanical watches cannot, and they do the same things in a different way or for different occasions. You take your mechanical watch to meetings, parties, and social occasions. You take your quartz watch into the garage, the yard, and the hard wilderness. While there are some mechanical watches built for this duty, you are among the minuscule few if you can afford to subject your beloved timepiece masterpieces to almost certain abuse and possible destruction. Most of you have “beater” quartz watches I am sure.
Enter the Tissot T-Touch Expert. You can read elsewhere on aBlogtoRead.com or otherwise to learn about the interesting history of the T-Touch watch that began in 2000 with the original T-Touch. Suffice it to say that the T-Touch Expert is the 4th iteration of the T-Touch line up (after the original T-Touch, T-Touch Navigator, and T-Touch Trekking). Look for the next version which is the diving version, the Tissot Sea-Touch, due to arrive this year.
The T-Touch expert is an extremely appealing, though not perfect watch. It quickly became one of my favorite acquisitions, and I am continually charmed by its abilities. I don’t use everything the watch can do, but then again most people who own it will not. This review will focus on what I consider to be an average style of T-Touch Expert ownership. Then you have people like survivalist Les Stroud from The Discovery Channel’s Survivorman who opted to wear a Tissot T-Touch Trekking, planning a different line of duty for a similar watch. Tissot makes a well-rounded watch indeed.
The T-Touch Expert has a few notable improvements over the original T-Touch. It is bigger, has a slightly refined case and face, a larger LCD screen, and adds some extra functionality while smoothing out operation overall. I’ll start with look at the watch first.
Most men love the looks of the T-Touch line, I know I do. More notably, most of us can’t really describe why we like it. It is easy to say “cool!” in reaction to the watch. Or “that is pretty manly looking.” What are we getting at though? The case has a design that reminds you of a piece of space ship or exotic looking tool. It is futuristic, while believable. The angles and curves all seem to make sense and flow, but are so far from being boring, and it is easy to think that the design is more complex than it really is. The most striking feature is the lugs, that are crafted like cybernetic fangs. The bracelet is modern looking as well, but really no more complex than it needs to be. That is the trick behind the design; it deceives you into thinking there are more lines than there actually are, a sign of a lot of design refinement. If you happened to be someone who doesn’t like how it looks, that’s fine — enough people do to keep Tissot happy.
The T-Touch Expert is one of the only carbon fiber faced watches that I actually like. This proves that the material is useful in some instances (I tend to get annoyed when carbon fiber is just thrown on a watch face in a futile attempt to make it look better). The carbon fiber works because the hands, hour indexes and LCD panel contrast so well, and it is extremely easy to read the dial. I opted for the Arabic numeral version of the T-Touch Expert, and I am happy that I did. The other Tissot T-Touch face design version features quasi-diamond shaped areas meant to serve as some of the hour markers. They function well to highlight the areas of operation touchable on the face, but make the watch a bit hard to read in my opinion. The Arabic numerals on this version are printed in a manner attempting to remind you of a [sports] car tachometer, complete with a red-lined area. Something to do with Tissot’s affiliation with organized racing maybe, I really don’t care about such things and focus strictly on the looks independently of other factors. The red colored hour markers add a visual interest and welcome splash of color to the face. It isn’t particularly functional, but I don’t mind the deviation from the white indicators. A few of the numerals are absent on the bottom of the dial due to the LCD panel, but Tissot thankfully kept some hour indexes there for your benefit.
The watch hands and hour markers are richly covered in a very bright luminant that works beautifully. This watch is easy to read in the dark with a sharp looking lume that isn’t blurry. In the event you are in total darkness, a red hued backlight glows against the LCD panel where you have the option of reading the time along with other information. The watch bezel rotates in both directions, and functions to assist with keeping track of north during certain periods of navigation, or helping you stay on a bearing. The bezel rotates smoothly, but a bit to easily in my opinion. I would have liked just the slightest bit more effort required to move bezel. A minor issue though.
Before moving on to the many functions of the watch, I’d like to cover a few more important items about wearing the watch. The T-Touch Expert is entirely crafted in titanium, which makes it very light. Titanium was an optional metal on some previous T-Touch watches, but for the United States, the T-Touch Expert is only available in titanium. The result is a watch that is light, and stronger than steel. Although the watch case is a bit over 43mm wide, with a 22mm wide bracelet, you barely know it is on your wrist. I actually think the leather or rubber strap models might be heavier than those with the titanium bracelet. Titanium has historically been very hard to machine with precision. You used to have titanium cases that where too rounded and lacked fine angles. That seems to have diminished in the last few years, the Tissot T-Touch Expert being proof of that. The level of polish and alternating finish on the watch surfaces are impressive, and the finely cut or angled edges on this watch wouldn’t have been possible too long ago. The color of titanium is also improving a bit, offering more of a sheen, and less of a dull gray look. There are some downsides to titanium though, namely that it is easy to scratch. You’ll need to be OK with fine lines developing on any titanium watch. While the metal is stronger than steel, it does not deflect scratches as well. I take excellent care of my watches, but still notice wear showing up a bit faster (especially on the bracelet) of my T-Touch Expert.
The bracelet itself features a nicely crafted locking clasp and a diver’s extension. The watch is water resistant to 100 meters, making it perfectly safe for diving. The bracelet is comfortable, though it took me a while to size it properly. I would have liked the underside of the broad case to be a bit more rounded, though this would have likely proved to be more effort for Tissot than it might have been worth. The bracelet has links that are a bit more flexible than they look (a good thing), making it wrap around your wrist well. The links are attached via pins. Come to think of it I don’t think I know of many titanium bracelets that feature screwed links. This is probably the perfect watch to have a metal and alternative strap option for, as you want to protect the handsome bracelet if you are taking the watch along during a potentially high impact activity.
Now, for the touchy-feely part of the watch and the reason behind the T-Touch name. Fans of the T-Touch line are already more than familiar with the many functions and uses of the touch screen interface. For those who aren’t, let me give you just the slightest primer. There is a large button with the letter “T” on it where the crown would normally be (above and below this button are “+” and “-” labeled buttons). Press the “T” button and you’ve activated the touch receptive sapphire crystal on the face of the watch. You now have 15 seconds to make one of seven decisions. Either press your finger over one of the six labeled areas on the periphery of the case to activate the named function, or press in the center of the watch where the hands connect to cycle through the two time zones, the date, and some settings functions.
The six functional areas around the dial are METEO (Barometer and weather tracking), ALTIMETER (altitude as well as rate traveling up and down), THERMO (ambient temperature), CHRONO (stopwatch and 24 hour countdown timer), COMPASS, and ALARM. Some of the features have a bit of a learning curve but are easy to use and pick up for the most part. Obviously, my daily usage of the watch doesn’t have me using the complex compass features aside from finding my direction, and the same goes for the altitude and barometer functions. The thermometer must be taken off your wrist for a solid 10 minutes to cool down – else the temperature display will be affected by your body temperature. And I can’t quite figure out how to use all the barometer functions yet. Then again, living in California’s weather, I don’t really need to worry about the weather much. I like knowing these features are there, and am comfortable with the fact that I’ll most likely not use some of them. Still, I’d be upset if Tissot neglected to insert any of them! This is what you need to take away from me on this topic, that there are lots of features in the watch, all work, and you’ll likely neglect a few. Tissot has thoroughly tested the movement, and the use thereof. There really aren’t many neglected areas of refinement or basic use. The features that logically should be there, are. For example, if you are using the stopwatch, while the numbers in the LCD panel are timing, the hands on the face are telling the time and not just idly pointing at the CHRONO section.
Information for the sensors is obtained through the back of the watch. There are some slits in the caseback that allow air and pressure to enter. Still, recall that I mentioned this watch is fully water resistant to 100 meters. Other watches such as Sunnto or Casio (that offer watches with similar functions) often place the sensors on the side of their watches. Tissot has each of these watches beat when it comes to user enjoyment as well as watch style. Operating any of these functions has the hands of the watch magically come to life and either point to the function you are using, or actually help. For instance, in compass mode, the hands of the watch form a compass need pointing to North, while the LCD panel reads out the degrees. This little aspect of the Tissot T-Touch line never gets old, and you’ll find yourself fiddling with it when you are bored. The people behind the ETA E48.351 movement (both ETA and Tissot are part of the Swatch Group) that powers the Tissot T-Touch Expert have really created something special. There are two major complaints people have behind the movement. Well, they are more wishes than complaints. Fans want to see a solar powered movement (though that would affect how nice the watch dial is, as that is where light would need to come in), and people have wished to have an atomic clock controlled Tissot T-Touch. I don’t know if either of these are really necessary. My take is that they would be nice, but only if Tissot was able to incorporate them and keep the Tissot T-Touch the beautiful watch that it is. In fact, I know of just one European watch maker that features atomic clock controlled watches (known battery hogs), that being Junghans (and the watches aren’t nearly as awesome looking as the T-Touch Expert). The majority of the atomic clock controlled watches out there are Japanese and simply fall into a different category than the Tissot T-Touch Expert watches.
Returning to my original statement regarding my feelings for quartz and mechanical watches, I’d like to tell you how the Tissot T-Touch Expert made me feel good about wearing a quartz watch again. No mechanical movement now or in the future will be able to do what this watch does. Not a chance. I don’t see this watch as being an homage to the fine tradition of watch making. Rather, the T-Touch Expert is a complex and wonderful gadget — one that happens to tell the time and sit on your wrist as well as perform many other functions. The Tissot T-Touch would make any boy the envy of the school yard, and make any grown man giddy at all the functionality. Men young and old alike will appreciate its looks and its character. This Tissot just epitomizes the watch you walk by seeing in a window and instantly know you want one. With retail price of around $1000 it isn’t the cheapest indulgence, but it’s well made, something you won’t regret, and can easily function as your weekend or weekday watch. t-touch.com
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