The Tissot T-Touch is the wilderness lover of the Tactile family which currently consists of the High-T, the Silen-T, and the newest member of the family, the Tissot Navigator 3000. You might not guess just from looking at it, but the Tissot T-Touch feels just as at home in the woods, in the mountains, or on long treks as it does in the office or at a cocktail party. The T-Touch combines good looks, rugged functionality, and impressive innovation in way you rarely see in the watch world.
Features of the Tissot T-Touch
- Touch crystal. I love showing this feature to people for the first time because they are almost always completely amazed. Like the rest of the Tactile family, the T-Touch has a touch-sensitive sapphire crystal. Rather than jamming repeatedly on a mode button, simply activate the crystal with the right center button, then touch the crystal in one of seven different areas to change modes, or to return to the default time mode.
- Compass. The Tissot T-Touch’s built-in compass can measure magnetic north as well as calculate geographic north.
- Thermometer. The range of the T-Touch’s built-in thermometer is -10 C (15 F) and 60 C (140 F). (If you’re in an environment which significantly exceeds that range, you should be more concerned about your life than your watch.) It is accurate to about 1 degree C (1.8 F), and the resolution is .4 C (.7 F).
- Barometer. The range of the built-in barometer is 300 hPa (hectoPascals), and it is accurate to + or – 3 hPa. The resolution is 1 hPa.
- Altimeter. Wherever you have a barometer, you usually have an altimeter, as well, since it is possible to calculate altitude by measuring atmospheric pressure. The range is -400 meters (-1300 feet) to 9000 meters (29,500 feet) with a resolution of 1 meter (3 feet).
- Chronograph. Resolution of 1/100 of a second, maximum time of 9:59′:59″. The T-Touch’s stopwatch can record a single split time.
- Alarm. The alarm is a daily alarm — nothing special — though it is nice and loud, which I really like. The only thing I don’t like about the alarm is that the only way to set it is by incrementing or decrementing minutes which can get a little tiresome if the time you want to set it to is 12 hours away. Fortunately, the minutes do speed up the longer you hold down the buttons (there are three different speeds) which makes it better, however I would rather be able to set the hours, minutes, and meridian separately.
- Analog and digital displays. The LCD can be configured to display the time or date, or data from one of the other many functions. The analog portion of the watch is even used to convey different types of information depending on the mode. (More on the watch’s hands below.)
- Dual time zone display (unofficial). This is not an official feature of the Tissot T-Touch, meaning I guess you’re not really supposed to do it, but there is a process you can go through to synchronize the analog time with the digital should they ever fall out of step with each other for any reason. If they can be synchronized, I hypothesized, they can be un-synchronized. And indeed they can. During the synchronization process, when the instructions tell you to line the hands up precisely at 12:00, simply add your second time zone’s offset, and suddenly you have watch capable of displaying dual time zones.
- Bidirectional rotating bezel. The bezel contains the four compass points rather than numbers so it can be used to orient a map.
- Semi-perpetual date. That means the T-Touch does not have a pre-programmed date function. Rather, it knows how many days are contained in each month, and can generally do a pretty good job of keeping track of the date that way, but gets tripped up between February and March. The instructions say, “For February it is necessary to reset the date when it is only 28 days” which at first I thought must be a typo. According to those instructions, the watch always assumes that it is a leap year, and adds an extra day to February. I tested the watch to see if this was actually the case, and discovered that this was indeed the watch’s behavior. A little strange, if you ask me. If I were designing a watch without a pre-programmed date function, I would assume that every year was not a leap year and give February 28 days since leap years only come along every four years (unless the year is divisible by 100 and not divisible by 400). Anyway, this is a minor point, but something Tissot might want to consider changing in the future. The point is, if you get yourself a Tissot T-Touch, make sure you check your date every year around March 1st.
- Metric and American units.
- Water resistant to 30 meters. (3 ATM, 3 BAR, or 100 feet).
- Luminescent hands. (No backlight for the LCD.)
- Quartz movement. For all of you who got here by doing a search on Google for “Tissot T-Touch battery,” it takes a Renata CR 1632 which should last about 12 months. I know that seems a little short, but consider all the features it’s expected to power.
- 42 mm in diameter, 150.36 grams.
- 2 year warranty.
I synchronized this watch with time.gov a month ago and found that it has lost about 2.5 seconds since. Tissot claims on their site that their quartz watches are accurate up to one minute per year, which is 5 seconds per month. The instruction manual claims that the range is -.3 to +.5 seconds each day, which is between 9 and 15 seconds per month. Fortunately, my tests showed far better results than either claim. I consider 2.5 seconds over the course of a month to be very respectable. Your mileage may very, however, based on the temperature the watch is exposed to. I think it’s fair to say that the watch is plenty accurate, though.
More on The Touch-Sensitive Crystal
The first time I saw this, I was amazed. Then I became cynical, wondering if the technology was only there as a gimmick. However, after wearing the Tissot T-Touch for a few days, I began to realize how convenient it is. You can navigate to any mode on the watch in one button press and one light tap. It isn’t a gimmick at all — it’s a huge usability improvement over watches with like functionality that require you to press the mode button as many as six or seven times to get where you want to go. And don’t you love it when you’re jamming on the mode button looking for the stopwatch, then realize you just passed it and have to go all the way back around again? Can’t happen with the Tissot T-Touch. The touch-sensitive sapphire crystal makes the T-Touch a joy to interact with.
I admit that putting your fingers on your watch’s crystal several times a day – especially when you’re outside hiking or biking — is not completely without its drawbacks. The crystal does spend a lot of its time smeared unless you stop to wash your hands each time you want to interact with it (which might take something away from its intended convenience). Keep in mind, however, that it’s a sapphire crystal. When it gets smudged, just buff it with your shirt or jeans or socks, or anything else you have handy that’s less dirty than it is. Sapphire can take it.
Something else I should mention about the T-Touch’s touch-sensitive crystal is that you have to explicitly active it before interacting with it. You activate it by holding down the right center button for two seconds, then it automatically deactivates itself after 30 seconds of inactivity. I suppose it might be slightly more convenient to be able to skip the step of activating the crystal, however I suspect without that initial step, every time you looked at your watch, you would find it in a different and completely arbitrary mode. It probably wouldn’t do the battery any favors, either. Having to activate the crystal is not bad at all, and become second nature after just a few hours of playing.
More on the Tissot T-Touch Compass
It turns out the compass is more sophisticated than I expected. I doesn’t just indicate magnetic north like your standard plastic boy scout model, but it can also calculate geographic north, as well. What most compasses report as north is really just the direction of the magnetic north pole, which is not actually geographic north. In order to calculate geographic north from magnetic north, you need to tell your Tissot T-Touch what your magnetic declination is, or the angle between magnetic and geographic north. You can find out what the magnetic declination is in your particular area using tools like the one provided by the National Geophysical Data Center (you don’t even need to know your longitude and latitude — just your zip code). Once you know your magnetic declination, configure your Tissot T-Touch accordingly, and suddenly, rather than just reporting magnetic north, the minute hand will actually indicate geographic north. If you don’t set your magnetic declination at all (meaning it is set to 0 degrees), the compass will simply indicate magnetic north.
More on the Tissot T-Touch Thermometer
At this particular moment, the watch shows a temperature of 83.2 degrees on my wrist. The Oregon Scientific thermometer in my office shows a temperature of 68.8 degrees. Assuming my body temperature is 98.6, the average temperature between my body and the air is 83.7 degrees, which means that when you’re wearing the watch, the temperature it displays can be considered the rough average temperature between your body and the air. The Tissot T-Touch actually measures the temperature of the watch case, which means if you want to measure the temperature of the air, you will need to take it off and not handle it for between 15 and 30 minutes. Once left alone, I found it to be very accurate. In fact, on one occasion, I found it to be in exact agreement with the Oregon Scientific digital thermometer (see the Tissot T-Touch photo gallery for proof).
More on the Tissot T-Touch Barometer
Tissot refers to the barometer as meteo, meaning an indication of meteorological tendencies. When in meteo mode, the digital portion of the watch indicates the atmospheric pressure in hectoPascals while the analog hands realign themselves either straight up to indicate stable weather, to the left of 12 o’clock to indicate deteriorating weather, or to the right of 12 o’clock to indicate improving weather. The further the hands are aligned to the left or right of 12 o’ clock, the greater the change in atmospheric pressure. I think this is a great way to quickly and easily indicate trends since a measurement in hectoPascals is completely lost on me, and presumably most other non-meteorologists, as well. I did test the accuracy of its measurements, however, by comparing it to the report on my trusty Oregon Scientific all hazards radio. The watch reported a barometric pressure of 1007 hPa and the radio reported 1018.6 millibars (which are equivalent to hectoPascals, but are easier to say over the radio). Looks pretty close to me.
The T-Touch uses the last eight hours of data to calculate trends atmospheric trends rather than just reporting short term (and potentially misleading) trends. It also detects unnaturally rapid changes in altitude and compensates accordingly in order to prevent them from throwing off the trend calculation.
More on the Tissot T-Touch’s Altimeter
The Tissot T-Touch can calculate your approximate altitude by measuring the barometric pressure and temperature. Since high and low pressure fronts affect the barometric pressure, the altimeter really needs to be calibrated often in order to be accurate. In fact, it’s probably best used to measure ascents over relatively short periods of time — before there is time for the atmospheric pressure to change significantly. Ideally, you would calibrate the altimeter with your current altitude before you begin your ascent, then use the altimeter to measure your progress. You can usually use signs, maps, or a GPS device to calibrate the altimeter. When in altimeter mode, the Tissot T-Touch calculates your altitude every 10 seconds. (Note that you cannot use your T-Touch to measure your altitude on a plane since the cabin is pressurized, and the altimeter relies on pressure decreasing as altitude increases.)
Available Combinations of the Tissot T-Touch
The Tissot T-Touch comes in the following 10 variations. (Pictures of each are available in the Tissot T-Touch photo gallery.)
- Blue dial, steel case, blue leather strap.
- White dial, steel case, while leather strap.
- Black dial, steel case, steel bracelet.
- Silver dial, steel case, steel bracelet.
- Black dial, steel case, black rubber strap.
- Black dial, steel case, orange rubber strap.
- Blue dial, titanium case, titanium bracelet.
- Black dial, titanium case, titanium bracelet.
- Black dial, titanium case, black rubber strap.
- Black dial, titanium case, orange rubber strap.
The Tissot T-Touch is a very good looking, very versatile watch bringing together a handsome design, tactile crystal, and an impressive set of features at a reasonable price (between $400 and $600). I tested the stainless steel version with the black dial and found the contrast of the white hands against the black quick and easy to read. If steel is too heavy for you, check out one of the four titanium versions, and if you’re going for a more casual look, check out the combinations with leather or rubber straps (I really like the look of the orange one). Whatever your design preference, if you’re looking for a watch that functions outdoors as well as it looks indoors, the Tissot T-Touch is something you might want to consider.
By Christian Cantrell