Towards the end of 2020 Tissot officially announced the T-Touch Connect Solar, the brand's first attempt at a connected smartwatch, with a focus on long battery life, smart functions, and privacy.
And, while this new watch can connect to your smartphone and display notifications on your wrist, Tissot is at pains to make clear that the Connect Solar is first and foremost a watch, 'not a gadget, not a “device”, and not a wrist-worn mini-tablet'.
The new smartwatch is a direct descendant of the brand's T-Touch collection, with a multitude of exciting functions which can, as the name suggests, be recharged by solar power.
It's a hugely important watch, though, as Tissot's parent company, Swatch, owns some of the biggest brands in the Swiss watch industry and this could pave the way for a number of similar devices.
Find out if it's good enough to feature in our best hybrid smartwatch or best watch guide by reading our Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar review below…
Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar review: price and release date
The Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar went on sale in November 2020, and is still available today. You can find the best Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar prices below:
Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar review: design
The T-Touch Connect Solar features a large 47mm titanium case with a scratch-resistant ceramic bezel. It feels exactly like a regular Tissot watch, which is to say incredibly solid and robust, not like a piece of fragile technology.
The T-Touch Connect Solar is a Swiss-Made connected watch. This certification is a guarantee of manufacturing quality and of security, as well as component origin.
Tissot has launched several versions, some with rubber straps, some with titanium bracelets, and a case in satin-finished titanium, black PVD or rose gold PVD, all of which are hardwearing.
We reviewed the black PVD model with the black rubber strap and think it looks great, with finely finished surfaces and softened corners. It's very understated.
The case is water-resistant to 100 metres, so can be worn swimming, though, there is no swim tracking function.
The T-Touch Connect Solar’s user interface consists of two push-buttons, an electronic crown and a tactile interface on the scratch-resistant sapphire crystal.
A long press on the “start” button at 2 o’clock activates the tactile crystal, while a long press on the “back” button at 4 o’clock takes the T-Touch Connect Solar to its home screen.
The controls can take a while to get used to, but once you've got a hang of it it becomes quite intuitive.
At the bottom of the watch dial is a very basic, monochrome status bar where essential information and notifications are located.
It uses a MIP (Memory in Pixel) type screen and refreshed only when necessary, thus conserving energy and making it easy to read in direct sunlight, although it does look a little dated compared to its rivals.
In addition, the screen also has an adaptive brightness setting, which immediately triggers backlit mode when the ambient light dims around you.
Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar review: features
The Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar has two modes, a 'Watch' mode and a 'Connected' mode.
In watch mode, when the T-Touch Connect Solar is not connected to your phone, the smartwatch has the basic functions of a T-Touch Solar Expert, namely a perpetual calendar, countdown timer, second timezone, alarms, chronograph, compass and meteo and altimeter functions.
Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar Specs
• Swiss Made
• Sw-ALPS low-energy operating system
• Titanium case, black PVD and rose gold coating
• Diameter 47 mm; thickness 15.3 mm
• Electronic crown
• Ceramic bezel
• Luminescent wind rose markings
• Scratch-resistant, tactile sapphire crystal
• Water-resistant to 100 m (10 ATM)
• Quartz movement, solar recharge
• Dial with photovoltaic cells
• Low-energy MIP (Memory In Pixel) digital screen
In addition to those basic functions, in connected mode, the T-Touch Connect Solar displays all desired notifications: calls, texts, e-mails, Whatsapps, Instagram… the list goes on.
In most instances, you won't be able to read the entire notification, but enough to allow you to decide whether it's important and needs to be dealt with straight away, or whether it can be ignored.
The T-Touch Connect Solar also has a built-in activity tracker combined with an accelerometer. It works both in “watch” mode, after inputting the wearer’s physical data, and in connected mode, for recording number of steps, distances and energy expended.
Okay, this clearly won't be rivalling the Apple Watch, Fitbit, or Garmin in the health and fitness area, but it is a useful addition if you prefer more traditional wristwear and also want to keep an eye on your activity levels.
The Connect Solar runs a new Sw-ALPS operating system, developed by Swatch specifically for this project. It is compatible with the iOS, Android and Harmony (Huawei) mobile operating systems.
It connects to your phone using a Bluetooth Low Energy chip, which minimises the energy consumed during data sharing.
Tissot also likes to highlight that its new watch is not data-gathering, and that all of the information about the wearer – their personal life, where they are, what they are doing – will remain strictly private and stored in the T-Touch Connect Solar’s mobile app.
In addition, the watch has several security modes; a basic lock, which deactivates the screen buttons to avoid accidental activation, and an additional lock which turns off screen displays for increased privacy.
Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar review: battery life
The T-Touch Connect Solar is able to keep running almost indefinitely in watch mode, and for several months, depending on its usage and exposure to the sun, in connected mode.
In connected mode and after turning on Bluetooth, the battery life depends on multiple factors, such as frequency of visual or vibration notifications, backlighting, adaptation to ambient lighting level, and the amount of data transferred.
This is a massive positive if the idea of nightly recharging of most smartwatches puts you off buying one.
We didn't need to charge the watch once during our review, but, should you find yourself running low on battery power the T-Touch Connect Solar does come with a charger, in case you need a quick boost.
Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar review: verdict
The Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar is an impressive wearable. It offers a robust design which is sure to appeal to traditional watch fans. It will also outlast its smartwatch rivals, both in terms of battery life and longevity.
It's not the smartest offering out there, it can't compete with the likes of the Apple Watch Series 6 for example, but what it can do (measure steps and provide wrist-based notifications) it does very well.
Battery life is the biggest advantage here, with it being measured in months rather than days, if you can put up with the limited functionality and retro-looking screen, then this could be the hybrid smartwatch for you.