So I was incredibly excited when Tissot invited us to its home country, Switzerland, for some traditional Swiss food, relaxation, and mountain climbing, all to test out one of the watch brand’s latest watch, the Tissot T-Touch Expert Solar.
Our flight landed in a rain-drenched Geneva with the news that Glacier 3000, a mountain activity centre where we’d cross a suspension bridge between two mountain peaks, was closed due to rain, high winds, and low visibility.
Thankfully we’d be going up the mountain the day after, when better weather was promised, which I was perfectly happy with, because while a bridge that's 3,000m up in the air is just FINE by me, if it's also being battered by rain and wind, that's not my idea of fun so much.
We hopped in a taxi to the hotel which took close to two hours. It should have been a picturesque journey, with views across Lake Geneva, but thanks to the rain, visibility was around 200 metres, so we might as well have been in Croydon. Not that there's anything wrong with that!
The hotel was very traditionally Swiss, the staff were wearing actual 'Bavarian-style' mountain-folk costumes with lederhosen and everything, and there was pine, everywhere.
Our afternoon consisted of swimming in an open-air saltwater bath (which is naturally always 35 degrees), and lunch in the hotel’s traditional restaurant. After an extensive cheese board with locally produced cheese - I don't know if you've heard, but the Swiss are quite noted for their cheese - it was time to turn in for the night, and prepare for tomorrow’s climb.
I slept soundly, knowing that having experienced efficient transport, snow, lederhosen and cheese, whilst on a trip organised by a watch brand, I had absorbed nearly all that Swiss culture has to offer. All that remained was to be woken by a cuckoo clock, while a well-groomed man handed me a large sum of money and suggested a game of tennis.
Getting to the top
I woke up the next morning to no cuckoo clock, and a foot of snow. In the UK, this would mean the end of any possibility of doing anything, so I assumed the Peak Walk was off.
However, the Swiss are hardy folk, so despite the dodgy weather we ventured out to Glacier 3000 in a taxi. I don't want to sound like some kind of big wuss, but with the car sliding all over the twisting, mountainous paths, I had genuine concerns that my life might end at this point.
Despite the countless perils, we arrived at the activity centre. Our group was dressed in typical English-winter clothing: big jackets, jeans, and, in my case, trainers. Every single other person there was in full-on ski gear, looking at us like we’d just stepped off the beach and probably muttering "English idiots", in a variety of European languages.
- Best jacket 2016: keep warm this winter with these toasty down jackets, parkas, and waterproof shells
This is where our activity with the watch began, because although the Tissot T-Touch Expert Solar is an analogue watch (with a quartz movement, admittedly), it also features a kind of touchscreen, which allows the wearer to select specific functions.
What functions, you ask? Thanks for asking. They include a compass, barometer, alarm, timer, chrono lap timer, and altimeter. As you press the watch's screen, the hands move and change function accordingly, so the compass sees the minute and hour hand straighten out like it's 6 o'clock, then point north.
Result: we could check the altitude at the bottom of the peak, then time how long it took for us to get to the top, then check the altitude again. Fortunately, there was no thermometer, as that would have just been off-putting, frankly.
After a 42-minute cable car ride - no, of course we didn't walk - we’d reached the top of the mountain. I checked the watch again to see that we were now at 2,947m above sea-level. Yes!
So, this should have been our view:
Magnificent, no? Well, this was our actual view:
Spectacular in its own way.
This is where we had a dilemma, at the bottom of the mountain we were told that the Peak Walk was closed. When we arrived at the top, we didn’t find anything stopping us from crossing… so we hastily began the 107-metre jaunt before anyone could stop us - and timed how long it took us to cross, of course.
Now, I’m not scared of hights, but my legs were visibly shaking while crossing the snow covered, swaying suspension bridge, not being able to see the other side.
On the top of Scex Rouge is a Tissot Clock, as it happens. And, ooh, just look at the time! Oh.
What did I learn from my trip?
- There are techy alternatives to the Apple Watch coming out of Switzerland, whether it’s the touchscreen analogue watch from Tissot, fitness tracking timepieces from Mondaine, Withings or Frederique Constant, and even Android Wear watches from Tag Heuer.
- Crossing a closed, unmanned mountain suspension bridge is not recommended, but what the hell.
- You should probably bring proper clothing and big, f**k-off boots if you're going up a snowy, wind-buffeted mountain.
Overall, I had done a lot of learning, and consumed much cheese.