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Tissot Sea-Touch: A Review

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Separate Or Combo: Choices…Choices…

The dive watch market is a fickle beast; one moment it’s completely fanatical about massive digital displays and chunky boots, the next it’s idolizing the inconspicuous, sleek watches that would pass for a formal timepiece should you forget to take it off on your way from the dive site to the evening gala (which is a real problem for me, I’m always in such a hurry rushing from my private yacht to those pesky evening balls…gosh life is hard being a secret agent! Ahem, I mean online journalist…yeah, just a normal, run-of-the-mill journalist…).

I have always tried to keep my dive watch and dive computer separate, I enjoy having the redundancy of two time keepers and it gives me an excuse to purchase two individual wrist adornments! It’s strange though, because of late I’ve been more and more enticed by the lures of a combo watch-dive computer. I don’t think it’s because I am actually keen to buy a watch/computer, I think I’m just so impressed by the different ways that watch manufacturers are able to overcome the technical and spacial constraints that are innate when attempting to engineer that much technology into such a small package. The real problem however, is not that they can’t fit the computing power into the little unit, but that the designers struggle to find a clear and concise way for the user to view and manipulate the information. How do you ensure that the massive amount of data that your clever little watch has collected about its environment is easily displayed on a two centimetre wide screen without it turning into a solid lump of black colour for those of us without superhuman eyesight? The answer, my friends, is that you don’t just use the digital display…you use the watch hands too!

Tissot Sea-Touch: Features

 

I am going to warn you now, you should ensure you swallow your food and drink fully before you read the rest of this article, otherwise you risk covering your computer in juice and sandwich – you will spit it out in awe of this James Bond watch!

Coffee Swallowed? Good, Because This Watch Will Blow Your…Em…Hat off!

 

Analogue Hands: For More Than Just Time!

This ingenious watch from the country that brought us the Swiss Army Knife (Switzerland…for those of you that are reading this in the morning and haven’t had your coffee yet) has managed to fully impress a jaded gear-junkie that thought he’d seen it all. In terms of information presentation I was sure that the best any designer would ever manage would be to increase the resolution on digital displays so more information could be displayed, I never though they’d use the mechanical hands to display the data!

There are a few watches out there at the moment that have a mechanical depth gauge built into the facia which adds an element of scuba chic to any outfit, but doesn’t really do much more than provide a minor element of convenience and back-up redundancy for your standard pressure gauge. The Sea-Touch however, uses the two hands from the analogue watch and electronically swivels them to correspond with the appropriate markings on the bezel. Watching the hands of a watch quickly and smoothly rotate to certain points on the facia was cool enough to have me drooling over this piece of Swiss magic!

The Hands Swivel Quickly To Point To The Setting You’ve Just Selected, Which Is Extremely Cool!

A Bloody Touch Screen!

The Sea-Touch is the aquatic member of Tissot’s “Touch” collection of watches. They are all well built and robust watches with a very impressive party-trick – in addition to having three conventional pushbuttons on the side of the watch, the glass screen is touch-sensitive as well! It’s not touch sensitive in an iPhone sort of way (with a computer screen and icons), instead there are clearly marked areas for you to touch around the outside of the dial that, when touched, will change the watch mode. Even the centre is touchable, adding further functionality to the menu system.

The touch system is remarkably un-gimmicky because there is a very restrained air of practicality and functional design. It’s as though the designers wanted to impress us with the capabilities of the product rather than the lights and fanfare that usually obscures functionality on electronic devices…what a novel idea! The screen itself is unmarked, because the touch sensors are somehow invisible (more voodoo). The touch aspect can be switched on or off to ensure that you don’t end up launching a missile somewhere or deleting the national bank records by accidentally bumping the watch off your thigh.

Amazing Touchscreen, Refined Yet Practical

Dive Computer

The Sea-Touch is a peculiar instrument because it has all the features of a dive computer, and yet the manual recommends that you dive with a separate dive computer because the Sea-Touch is only to be used as a back-up. I believe this is because Tissot have realised that the watch’s instruments are not nearly as precise as a fully fledged dive computer, though I must confess that if I had the chance to own one, I’d almost certainly use it for day-to-day diving, and only take my proper computer for deep dives.

Tissot have been very clever with their use of the rotating hands as they’ve managed to employ them to display the two most important pieces of information when on a dive; the depth and the ascent/descent rate. On the outside of the bezel is the depth (denoted in meters or feet, depending on what model you buy) which the minute hand points to, and on the left side of the facia there is a scale of metres per minute which the hour hand uses to state your speed as you move vertically in the water. The depth gauge is marked in such a way as to give you more precise readings for the first fifteen meters, any deeper and it becomes less easy to define your precise depth.

The digital screen is not left out of the action as it provides the diver with the elapsed bottom time in hours and minutes. This dual format display allows the diver to quickly glance at the information they want, rather than scrolling through digital menus or trying to decipher which number means what.

The log book is necessarily simple, though it covers all the aspects that you really need. It can be a little frustrating accessing it, with limited display to aid your navigation, but with a little time spent with the instructions you’ll get the hang of it. Obviously the memory is much more limited than a dedicated dive computer, but it is more than sufficient for the average diver.

Compass

This is a really innovative feature that I am so impressed with because, unlike most other dive computers that have an integrated digital compass, the Sea-Touch’s compass is actually worth using. Instead of displaying a crappy digital heading on a screen, the Sea-Touch uses a very familiar and effective way of displaying north – it points an arrow towards it. To put it simply, Tissot have integrated a digital compass into the computer but instead of using the digital display to show where north is, they use the minute and hour hand to make a long arrow that swivels just like a conventional fluid-filled compass. This is a feature that really has to be observed to be really impressive, but by using the physical hands to display direction Tissot have managed to overcome the nasty and lengthy “relearning process” that most divers have to endure to be able to operate their digital compass effectively.

Dive Mode Is Automatic (@ 1.5m) And Can Be Manually Set For Snorkelling.

 

Thermometer

Like all good electronic devices, you can always make it more desirable by adding a thermometer, the Sea-Touch is no exception, and it becomes especially useful when you are diving (a dunk of the wrist in the sea will let you decide what exposure protection to wear before you get in the water).

Pros

  • Build Quality – The Tissot has a very reassuring weight to it which provides an immediate sensation of robustness. It is a solid timepiece that will endure several years of diving flawlessly.

    There’s A Whole Lot Of Metal In This Watch, Which Reassures Me…

  • Ingenious – There are many people who will decry this watch as a gimmick-laden toy, but I see real, functional design that has finally managed to push the boundaries of how we interact with our watches.
  • Easy To Read – This is a big draw for some folks who hate digital displays. The hands are big and defined which allows for quick glances rather than extended reading, which is handy when you’re on a tricky cavern dive!

    The Excellent Display Is Made Even Better By The Backlight.

  • Full Featured – This watch packs more features than a huge range of other dive-orientated watches, and yet it somehow remains a viable dinner timepiece. Truly an exercise in exceptional design.
  • Excellent Compass – I am very disappointed in most of the integrated digital compasses that are on offer with dive computers, this one however, has really grabbed my attention. It combines the size of a digital unit with the ease of use that comes from a mechanical offering, with very little drawbacks!

 

Cons

  • Price – So, all these features will be cheap will they? Um…no…sorry. This is a seriously expensive item of gear that will be far beyond most diver’s pockets. Though this doesn’t bother me in the slightest because things like this are not meant to be owned by everybody, they are meant to inject excitement into the atmosphere when it turns out a diver has one on the boat – it is a spectacle to behold like a Ferrari or a pair of Prada shoes at a party. Watching one in action makes my mind boggle, which is precisely the effect it’s meant to have.
  • Accuracy – As mentioned above, there are small issues with the accuracy of the instruments (especially at extremes) which Tissot have warned might make it unsuitable for using as a solo computer, though for the average diver it is more than sufficient (who needs to know how deep they are to the centimetre anyway?).
  • Depth – This is a two-fold criticism because the Sea-Touch is waterproof to one hundred metres which makes me a little nervous (I know divers that have dived to seventy metres on air…which is a little too close to the watch’s maximum depth for my liking) and the depth gauge is only marked to fifty-nine metres which means that it is only suitable for recreational divers – Tec divers will have to look elsewhere.

Final Thoughts

I’ve pathetically gushed enough for you to realise that I am thoroughly impressed by the features and design of this watch. It has made me reconsider what other manufacturers are offering and has raised the bar for ingenuity in wrist-top computing considerably. I hope to see a more hardcore version of this watch come out in the near future, regardless of price, because ultimately I’ll just be reviewing it…not buying it!

Have you had a chance to play with a Sea-Touch? Are you lucky enough to own one? What are your thoughts on the design? Anything you’d change? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Happy (geeky) bubbles!

By Jamie Campbell


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Comments

  • Kaiser said:

    Excellent review……….but for a mistake that Tissot ought to be blamed for, more than Campbell. The Sea-Touch is Water Resistant to 200m. Unfortunately, the Tissot website says 100m, which is downright incorrect. Just flip the watch and you will see 200m written boldly on the backplate. (You can do a Google image search of the Sea-Touch and you will find the backplate picture).

    I do not understand why Tissot has not responded despte several pointers by me. It seems to be an unfortunate “own goal” by Tissot to advertise a lower water resistance than the 200m it actually is rated to. I think they somehow copied the 100m rating for the T-Touch Expert series for the Sea-Touch too on the website.

  • Kaiser said:

    I looked at a number of divers with depth gauges. Though not as elaborate as the Sea-Touch, the latest offering by Citizen, the promaster BJ2120 is in a class of its own. The reasonable price and Eco-Drive are real deal breakers.

  • Kaiser said:

    Ref my first post. Check this link for a picture of the Sea-Touch backplate showing 200m WR.
    http://forums.watchuseek.com/f62/some-sea-touch-issues-447926.html
    (Post #8)

  • mostafa said:

    i loke to have any watch from tissu company

  • john said:

    i have a sea touch , just got it for xmas, its in feet not meters and the compass seems to only work at a max depth of around 30 feet give or take some.
    does this seem correct?
    The dealer is telling me its suppose to work up (or down in this case) until the depth of the watch, but he didn’t seem very knowledgeable….
    can any one go into further detail about this?

  • Andrew Peace said:

    I have picked one up today in the sales from Ernest Jones. Down from £655 to £385 which is an absolute bargain. Stunning watch and really well put together

  • Mitch said:

    Hi I bought the same watch, although, not a diver, I wanted to use when snorkelling with my daughter. You mentioned the same in you column. I am having fun with it, getting to know the systems. I have the black band backscreen. For the other user, look up where you are from, there may be an actual Tissot factory representitive facility. I am in Toronto, Canada. I went and the lady was very nice, changed the band diameter for me and gave a small crash course. I was not sure how the compass worked. Now, I have this model and a PRC200. Like and enjoy both. Interesting, everybody has a blackberry or cell phone these days, and we still like to have a nice watch, with some toys on it. I guess, women like shoes, men, we like watches!
    thanks,

  • francico said:

    I bought this watch 6 months ago ,used 5 times and the upper part went off by itself,not falling,not hitting just went off,went to spain and took the watch in barcelona and they told me i had to leave it for a month,by the way the company who sold the watch gave me the box but not warranty ,so as you can see i had to wait a month and pay for that repair,now i am in venezuela and hope yhey can fix it here,so much money and what a waste

  • Rod Clarke said:

    No tide function. For any watch to do with the ocean that’s a serious flaw. Also titanium would be better.

  • Wayne Stobbe said:

    It wasn’t until I bought the SeaTouch that I began to realise how much women notice your watch.

    They don’t comment but they look.

    Wish I had one 20 years ago

  • kristian bender said:

    I have owned the Tissot Sea-T-ouch for more than 2 years now.
    even before ordering the watch i had the Tissot factory in Switzerland confirm that the watch is def water resistant to 200m which is also clearly machined into the back of the watch.

    I it a truly eye-catcher, but what makes it perfect is really that it works so beautifully. even under water use is trouble-free and no threat to the watch because of the ingenius way of constructing the buttons – just get yourself one!

    to put it right: titanium is better compared to low-budget steel – but this watch is made from 1 high grade quality steel block and is just as good as any titanium watch :-) I think that the heavier weight adds to the quality feel also (it is no heavier than my seamaster or Oris 1000m diver) but wearing the sea-touch makes people ask if I am a diver, the other watches not :-)

    this is by far the most interesting watch I have owned…

  • Tony Uchôa said:

    Helo everyone,

    I have a T-Touch but with no good experience. The watch got some problem, the repair was carried out by a shopping Tissot representatvie but one year later I have another problem. I´m thinking in shopping a Sea-touch. Is it a realy watch that working under the water?(water prove or resistance)??

    Thanks for any comments

    Brghdfs

    Tony

  • mike said:

    Hi,
    Bought one sea touch 1000 Dollar in india. Hope works well in water. Most Funny thing is User manual says 100m, watch analog shows 59 m and backlid carved 200m. Brand like Tissot should be very much fair with their call what ever it is in depth………, any way wish me all the best before i take it in water ha ha ha.

  • Kristian Bender said:

    Just to clarify on the Tissot Sea-Touch:
    this watch is water resistant to 200m – as machined into the back of the watch.
    however the diving functions like depth, time, logbook etc are not guaranteed by Tissot to work any deeper than 100m (actually it only measures down to 60 m depth) – but this has nothing to do with the water resistance folks. so just go ahead and use the watch for what it is built for: diving :-)
    enjoy this fine divers watch

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