A lot of buzz has been generated about the upcoming release of the Apple Watch. The tech industry and the watch industry have had a symbiotic relationship over the past few decades. My goal is to briefly explain the legacy of digital technology in the watch industry and then focus on a great product that I recently had a chance to see for myself.
Since the 1970’s, quartz products have saturated the watch market. From the first widely consumed digital watch- Casio F91-W, to current G-Shocks seen on the wrist of every high-schooler in America, digital technology has been pervasive in the industry. The news of the Apple Watch release was seen as revolutionary to some but for those who know the industry, this announcement was merely the next logical step. While most of the technology behind the Apple Watch is still under lock and key, the touch features of the watch have been disclosed and should be considered. Die-hard techies know that touch screen technology has been around in some form since the late 1970’s. The point of origin is not important however, it is worth while to look at companies that are currently employing this technology on wristwatches.
Swatch Group brand Tissot, in 2013 launched the T-Touch Expert Solar. This smartwatch has been the gold standard for touch screen integration in industry. Featuring an altimeter, chronograph (lap/split), barometer, and compass, the watch has more functionality than I can fathom. The T-Touch Expert Solar comes in at flush 45mm which wore actually a bit smaller than expected. Outside of the vast number of functions this watch offers, the dial presentation is amazing. Displaying both analog and digital time as well as easily marked functions on the bezel, the design is simple enough to function correctly. At first, I rushed to test this watch. I didn’t bother reading the user manual as I figured most people won’t also, I wanted to see how intuitive some of touch functions performed.
Setting the time on this watch definitely requires some getting used to yet, all of the other functions presented on the bezel are a tap away (literally). The watch itself functioned seamlessly and I truly appreciated Tissot’s efforts to made the T-Touch fall in line with Tissot brand image and design aesthetic. The overall styling and in particular the deployment clasp on the leather strap variation, made the watch feel like a Tissot instead of an attempt by Tissot to integrate technology. While pricing most people out of the market with a retail price of $1150 USD, the T-Touch Expert Solar is a very strong offering with a number of extremely useful features. Touch screen integration was done with great attention to detail and it shows. I commend Tissot for making such a strong offering however, the pricing is what prevents the T-Touch Expert Solar from being adopted by the masses. In the future, Tag Heuer as well as a number of other luxury Swiss brands have announced plans to move into the smartwatch space. These folks are a little late to the party, but I am excited to see what the future holds.