At the end of 2023, Tissot announced a brand new member of the historic T-Touch watch family known as the Tissot T-Touch Connect Sport. I’ve spent a few weeks evaluating this pretty piece of high-end engineering and have a lot to say about Tissot’s latest foray into software-based timekeeping tools. Not only am I keenly interested in the evolution of smartwatches and all things related to modern gadgets that take wristwatch form, but I’ve been carefully following the development of Tissot’s popular T-Touch collection since it was originally introduced in 1999 (I believe). I’ve owned several Tissot T-Touch watches and encourage you to see our many Tissot T-Touch articles on aBlogtoWatch over the years.
Tissot itself knows of my affinity for T-Touch watches, and I’ve been fortunate to be privy to a lot of behind-the-scenes discussions about the Swiss company’s important “technology watch.” That said, I received the new T-Touch Connect Sport from Tissot without too much context (which is fun sometimes). That was interesting for me, as I got to understand the T-Touch Connect Sport without reading anything about it, using only my evaluative powers. Only after I had been testing the watch for a while did I read the commentary and tech specs that Tissot prepared for it. At the heart of what Tissot is proud of in the T-Touch Connect Sport is really the hardware and the “Swissness” of it all. This is a beautiful piece of modern electronic technology that delights the eyes and wrist just like a “traditional” Swiss watch should. The T-Touch Connect Sport is the most wearable and attractive connected modern T-Touch product Tissot has produced, and I don’t think anyone holding or wearing the watch will deny that.
Tissot T-Touch Meets New T-Touch Connect Generation
But there is a deeper story about functionality and software that remains to be told. The T-Touch Connect Sport is a narrowly aimed product in that it is a smartwatch that does certain things, but not others. Therefore, the wider consumer appeal of the product is somewhat limited by the current functions and features Tissot has decided to put into the software experience. Tissot doesn’t seem to deny any of that and alludes to a new upcoming era of iterative design and innovation that it hopes will yield more Swiss Made technology watches that feature many best-in-class components. The 2023 Tissot T-Touch Connect Sport is meant to highlight where the Swatch Group currently is regarding its industrialization of such timepieces and offers consumers a bold new step for T-Touch.
This is also where I need to say that fans of yesterday’s T-Touch products need to accept that the T-Touch as they know it is in… well, hibernation. This watch might have just as easily been called the “Tissot T-Connect Solar,” or something along those lines. When Tissot originally debuted the T-Touch, it was incredibly innovative because the wearer could touch the sapphire crystal in various areas to activate different watch functions. That entire system is gone, as are most of the functions (such as the sensor data) in the T-Touch Connect Sport. You can, indeed, tap and swipe (up and down, or side to side) the area over the AMOLED screen, but it doesn’t really have the same effect or sensation as the experience on previous generation T-Touch watches.
More so, the motorized hour, minute, and seconds hands serve no indication purposes (aside from telling the main time that is) for the non-timetelling features of the T-Touch Connect Sport. From what I can tell, their sole function aside from telling the time is to move out of the way when using the small screen, so that the hands do not block your view. The motors used to power them are very speedy and slick, but it feels like a missed opportunity in that they don’t operate to indicate anything else. The way I wrap my head around all of this is to not consider the T-Touch Connect Sport a watch that is truly part of the previous generation T-Touch family. In my opinion, that generation of watches ended with the 2020 Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar. It certainly wasn’t a perfect product, and it was very large (47.5mm wide, 15.3mm thick), but it was a “traditional” T-Touch product, through and through.
The 2023 Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar is more like a T-Touch reboot. It takes DNA elements of the original T-Touch collection and puts them into an entirely different product family of hybrid smartwatches. The original T-Touch was born before the era of modern smartwatches, and it was state-of-the-art for a long time. Once smartwatches came around, Tissot understandably tried to marry its popular T-Touch platform with connected elements. That simply didn’t make sense for consumers in the long run, so Tissot made the smart decision to rethink the T-Touch and start with a new foundation — that’s what the T-Touch Connect Sport is, in my opinion. Having said that, key features of the watch, such as the solar charging technology, have been in the works by Tissot parent company the Swatch Group for years now.
Showcasing New Swiss Made Solar Cell Technology From The Swatch Group
Both Tissot and TAG Heuer are Swiss companies that come to mind when I think of trying to outdo the Japanese when it comes to forms of solar-powered watch technology (with niche products, of course). The claim by both is that their photovoltaic cells allow for much more power generation than those on many Japanese models. In the case of Tissot, at least, its amazing-quality photovoltaic cells are not only produced in Switzerland but in-house by in-group company Nivarox. Known mostly for making hairsprings, Nivarox got into silicon component production and later the printing of photovoltaic cells for this and other upcoming products. Now the Swatch Group has the internal ability to produce class-leading photovoltaic cells for wristwatches and other small device purposes. No doubt this will have implications for brands like Tissot within the Swatch Group, as well as for other commercial supplier opportunities that allow the group to produce such parts for clients. Tissot has come a long way in terms of the look and performance of their solar-powered T-Touch watches. The first came out in 2013 and I got to review one of the earlier models, the Tissot T-Touch Expert Solar, in 2014.
I think it is important to also mention how the Swatch Group appears to differ from a company such as Citizen when it comes to its philosophy behind implementing a watch dial with a photovoltaic cell on it. Citizen prefers to disguise this feature of the watch by creating complicated prism dials over their Eco-Drive movements that allow for some light to enter – and for the dial to otherwise look “standard.” Tissot on the other hand eschews this notion and makes most of the dial the photovoltaic cell. Rather than disguise the cell by covering it (and thus allowing less light to hit it), the brand’s perspective is to maximize charging potential while making the photovoltaic cell itself more attractive. You can see the stark evolution of this over the last 10 years when you compare the photovoltaic cell dial of the 2013 T-Touch Expert Solar (link above) and that of 2023’s T-Touch Connect Sport.
How does all of that translate into a wristwatch-wearing experience? Does the T-Touch Connect Sport ever need to be externally charged? How much real-world performance can you expect from a smartwatch with solar-charging functionality? This is one of the hottest areas in smartwatches right now and Garmin especially is highly invested in merging its smartwatches with solar-charging technology. Solar-charging smartwatches are a bit like gas/electric hybrid cars. They allow the watch to be weaned off external power, but the solar charging is not a total replacement for it. Tissot does say that in non-connected mode, the watch can survive without external charging indefinitely if you get on average 20 minutes or so a day of sunlight. That goes to six months in connected mode if you get 35 minutes of sunlight on your wrist each day. You will get three months in “sport connected mode” (which I guess means a lot of activity tracking) if you get 60 minutes of sunlight per day. That is a bit odd for them to keep moving the sunlight goalpost when making battery life promises in each of these modes. Again, you can simply attach the magnetic charging cable to the rear of the case for a relatively quick recharge.
To summarize the solar element of the Tissot T-Touch Connect Sport, it showcases beautiful new technology and componentry from the Swatch Group, that allows for this and future beautiful watches with photovoltaic cell dial technology. It produces a good amount of energy compared to many legacy “solar watch dials,” though perhaps not quite enough power to satisfy Tissot’s larger goal of making a truly autonomous (doesn’t need to be charged) connected watch using only in-house technology.
The Most Comfortable & Attractive T-Touch In A Long Time
One of the things that is obvious to me about the T-Touch Connect Sport is that Tissot first wanted to make a beautiful well-made piece of hardware, and then to focus on the software and features element of it. This is important because the last few generations of the T-Touch were an awkward compromise between size, performance, features, and style. For this latest generation of T-Touch Connect, I can easily see Tissot’s product development team starting with the absolute requirement that it be both wearable and pretty. In this, they succeeded. Not only do the revised (smaller) proportions of the T-Touch Connect make it wear far more comfortably, but the overall design and construction of the T-Touch Connect Sport are excellent. Tissot really was able to capture the essence of the T-Touch legacy both in terms of how the watch looks and the materials used for the case construction, and that includes focusing on titanium for most of the case’s construction.
Unfortunately, the legacy “T-Touch” experience is no longer, as evidenced by the lack of a dedicated “T-Touch” pusher that activated the touch-receptive sapphire crystal in previous versions. The case now has just two pushers as well as the various swipes and presses you can make on the smaller AMOLED screen section of the larger dial, as input options. The case is however much more compact than recent T-Touch model generations being 42.5mm wide and 12.8mm thick. The lightweight titanium case is given a brushed finish with polished angles, and the bezel is here produced from blue ceramic. Other available versions of the T-Touch Connect Sport have some other color options such as black or brown for the ceramic bezel. The watch case is water resistant to 50 meters.
One of the odder case features is on the year of the watch, and it appears to be hardware for a heart rate monitor. The only problem is that the current software doesn’t seem to feature a heart rate (or similar) function. Perhaps this is hardware for future functionality that Tissot will release, but for now, I am not clear what the electronics under the two charging port points are. Moving over to the dial, this is a beautiful analog face in the spirit of T-Touch over the years. With that said, it is rather simple and doesn’t include added complications or even a backlight. Indeed the hands and hour markers are painted with SuperLumiNova, but with an external light source, you can’t really read the time in the dark as there is both no backlight nor a current way to read the time digitally via the bright AMOLED screen.
T-Touch Connect Sport Features & Functions
For more than two decades, the reason people purchased a Tissot T-Touch was to get a cool-looking gadget watch with a lot of features in it. It was for people who felt that a G-Shock was a bit too pedestrian for them, but who also needed a compass from time to time. With the T-Touch Connect Sport, Tissot has stripped back all the regular features from the T-Touch family and essentially started over. Really the only three remaining functions from the original T-Touch include the chronograph, countdown timer, and also the ability to swap between “T1” and “T1” time zones (though you need to use the app for that).
It could be a bit shocking for many legacy T-Touch fans that the compass, altimeter, and barometer are missing in action. More startling to me is that the analog hands on the dial never repurpose themselves for anything and all the extra features (aside from the time) are displayed via the small screen. For me, that is the biggest drawback of the T-Touch Connect Sport: the lack of motorized hands performing various features. What people seemed to love the most was when the hands repurposed themselves into a compass needle while in that functional mode. I don’t think I will be the only one asking Tissot to consider how they can bring back this core feature of the T-Touch, which is easy to miss in the T-Touch Connect Sport if it isn’t your first T-Touch watch.
So what does the T-Touch Connect Sport do via the watch’s SwALPS (Swiss Autonomous Low Power OS) operating system, which doesn’t require access to the companion phone app? Not much actually. To start, there are a limited number of basic watch settings to adjust as well as to turn on or off the Bluetooth connection feature (so that it can talk to your smartphone). Next, the watch features the date and day of the week. The screen also displays your current daily steps. Swipe up and you have access to a few trackable activity features where you select an available sport or activity if you want to track an exercise session. During those workouts, various data is collected such as the time of the activity as well as your motion and an estimate of calories burned. Last via the small display, the watch features a stopwatch chronograph feature, as well as an adjustable countdown timer.
The final area of functionality includes smartphone notifications that pop up on the small display and offer a few lines of text. This allows you to do things such as make note of incoming text messages and e-mails. That is a relatively lean list of built-in features and doesn’t offer much for travelers or outdoor adventurers. This is why I mentioned earlier that Tissot did a nice job with the T-Touch Connect Sport but for a niche-sized audience (that could easily be larger with the inclusion of more features and functions).
The Companion T-Touch Smartphone Software
Even though Tissot touts autonomous functions in the T-Touch Connect Sport, like the name of the watch implies, it is designed to be connected to a host phone device. The software (confusing to search for since it is called “T-Connect” and not “T-Touch”) is an improvement on that that came with the previous generation Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar. The software makes it possible to both synchronize the time and date of the watch, and also to examine your activity tracking data in more detail.
The T-Connect software looks pretty and is rather intuitive to use, even though it also offers limited features. Similar to the software that comes with various Bluetooth-enabled Casio G-Shock watches, the software also allows you to more easily adjust things than on the watch, such as timers. What I found a bit concerning however were some of the features which you can exclusively find on the T-Connect software that you cannot find on the watch itself. One good example is the alarm feature. You can set times for the watch’s alarm to go off via the app, but you can’t access that feature via the watch itself. More problematic is the battery life indicator — which is also unavailable via the watch itself — an omission that feels quite glaring. Perhaps there is a special notification that pops up when the battery life is low, but otherwise, there doesn’t appear to be a way to check the battery life of the T-Touch Connect Sport from the watch itself, only the app software provides it when you are connected to your phone via Bluetooth.
Recommended Upcoming T-Touch Connect Sport Features For Tissot To Consider
After wearing the Tissot T-Touch Connect Sport for a while, I’ve developed a list of some suggested features the company might want to consider adding to the current software platform. These features would not only make the watch more “autonomous” and capable away from the phone app but should also make the watch more fun to wear. That’s important because Tissot is clearly going for an emotional value proposition with the T-Touch Connect Sport. Maybe this watch doesn’t have all the features of competitors, but it at least needs to deliver in style, beauty, and fun. Those are the areas where Tissot can compete the most.
It should not be too difficult to add new features to the existing SwALPS operating system. While basic, I will say that after a few minutes, the way to navigate the menus becomes rather intuitive. It would be easy for Tissot to expand the menus and screens, and thus add more features. The first few features I would recommend adding are very simple. First, the watch needs to be able to indicate the current battery life. That’s a no-brainer. Second, the watch needs to feature a digital readout for the current time. This is mainly because you can’t read the analog dial in the dark, and it is useful to have a backup way of reading the current time.
Next, it would be nice to have at least one thing the analog hands do aside from indicating the main time. I feel that the hands are ideal to combine with the stopwatch and countdown timer functions. Of course, a return of the digital compass that uses the analog hands as the needle pointing north would be equally welcome as a new feature.
Finally, I think there is a lot more than Tissot can do with the solar part of the T-Touch Connect Sport story. First, I think the watch should include a solar intensity meter. Garmin now uses this on their solar-charging watches and it allows you to understand how much light (and with what intensity) the watch face has been exposed to. If the watch requires a certain volume of sunlight per day to avoid needing external USB recharging, then it would be useful to have software that tells you with precision if you’ve accomplished that daily goal. Added to this is the human health element of “getting enough sun.” Tissot could playfully combine the watch’s need for sunlight with our own human need for sunlight (for important things like the generation of Vitamin D). Thus, friendly reminders on the watch could suggest that you go outside while there is remaining daylight. The direct reason might be to charge your watch, and indirectly you’ll get some Vitamin D and nature time. Knowing what I know about Swiss culture, a “go outside and get some sunlight” indicator is right up the brand’s alley.
Tissot T-Touch Connect Sport Versions & Pricing
Tissot has a very nice piece of hardware with the new T-Touch Connect Sport. Functionality and features may be limited and niche at this time, but there will still be plenty of people who are romanced by this pretty hybrid smartwatch package. Purists will miss legacy T-Touch functionality, and modern smartwatch gadget lovers might miss some of the more robust functionality that is available in often uglier, but more utility-packed competitor products. At launch, Tissot offers six versions of the T-Touch Connect Sport. Each has a titanium case, but some have PVD-coated black or rose gold-tone color treatments and different dial color accents. One of the models also has a matching titanium bezel as opposed to a ceramic one. One model also comes with an available matching titanium bracelet. This particular Tissot T-Touch Connect Sport has a natural titanium case with a blue ceramic bezel on the blue silicone strap and is the reference T153.420.47.051.01. Price is $995 USD, and prices for other versions of the T-Touch Connect Sport can go up to $1,075 or $1,100 USD. Learn more at the Tissot watches website.