Taking On The Wildlife Ranger Challenge With The New Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar
Watchonista’s Sophie Furley puts the new Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar to the test while participating in the grueling Wildlife Ranger Challenge to support Africa’s rangers.
There is nothing we love more at Watchonista than testing watches out in the wild, and what better way to try the new Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar than by taking it on the Wildlife Ranger Challenge? Earlier this month I joined 2,000 African rangers - virtually of course - in a challenge to find the fastest and the fittest wildlife warriors.
What Is The Wildlife Ranger Challenge?
It has been a tough year for Africa’s rangers. Not only has COVID-19 brought the tourist industry to its knees, but it has also caused an alarming rise in poaching. Rangers across Africa have endured drastic cuts in salary and resources which have left wildlife dangerously unprotected. The Wildlife Ranger Challenge was set up to raise money for these brave men and women so they can continue to protect Africa’s iconic wildlife.
Two thousand rangers from 20 African countries, and 2,000 supporters from 80 additional countries, took part in this four stage fitness challenge over four weeks. The first challenge was to complete as many push-ups as physically possible in two minutes. This was followed the next week by two minutes of sit-ups, and the week after that with two minutes of burpees. It ended with a 21km run/hike wearing 20kg of ranger equipment – all of which we timed and recorded using the new Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar.
Global Conservation Corps (GCC) Joins
I competed on behalf of GCC, a non-profit organization whose mission is to conserve wildlife through education, skills development, and training for the people who live alongside conservation areas. Supporting the rangers is a major part of GCC’s work. Founder Matt Lindenberg jumped at the chance to join a team of rangers from Southern African Wildlife College to compete in the Wildlife Ranger Challenge.
I have known Lindenberg for a while now as I support the GCC effort by writing for the organization in my spare time. In addition to our mutual love for animal conservation, we are also rather crazy about fitness challenges. He recently roped me into a brutal 48-mile run where I had to run four miles every four hours, for 48 hours. After he signed up for the Wildlife Ranger Challenge, we immediately started talking about putting together a Swiss team.
Creating The Swiss Wildlife Ranger Challenge Team
Now, it is one thing to choose to do a challenge like this, but it’s quite another finding others to join you! I finally managed to persuade an old colleague, Joy Corthésy, to participate. After kindly reminding me that I could still only do one push-up properly, she had the brilliant idea of inviting our friends, Laura Dubler and Will Holmes - personal trainers from Core Training in Vevey, Switzerland - to team up with us so we wouldn’t completely embarrass ourselves.
The Tissot Connection
Over the last year, Tissot has been supporting GCC by providing a number of T-Touch timepieces to their rangers. As Tissot was serendipitously launching its brand-new T-Touch Connect Solar at the exact same time as the challenge, it made perfect sense to put this timepiece to the test.
Tissot is the latest Swiss watch brand to release a connected watch with the Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar. Multi-functional, tactile timepieces are nothing new for Tissot; the brand has been making them since 1999.
As early as 2004 they had developed their High-T in association with Microsoft. The Tissot T-Touch Connect Solar takes everything we know and love about the T-Touch – perpetual calendar, countdown timer, various chronograph functions, second time zone, alarms, compass, weather forecast, and altimeter – and adds an activity tracker (steps, distance, and calories) as well as phone, text, and email notifications.
In-House Operating System
The Sw-ALPS operating system behind the T-Touch Connect Solar was developed by the Swatch Group in partnership with the Centre Suisse d’Electronique et de Microtechnique (CSEM) research center. It is compatible with iOS, Android, Harmony, and Huawei systems.
The T-Touch Connect Solar is first and foremost a watch. In the event that users opt not to connect their watch to the app, the timepiece still works as a T-Touch Expert Solar timepiece. What makes it even more appealing is that no provider can access personal data via the operating system, the app, or the watch itself, making all the information entirely private.
A Different Kind Of Connected Watch
The T-Touch Connect Solar differentiates itself from other connected watches by being solar-powered via photovoltaic cells embedded in the dial. This means it can run for months at a time without needing to be charged.
Compare this to most connected watches that need charging on a daily basis and it really stands apart. It has also been designed to last, so it won’t become obsolete in a couple of years like many electronic products.
The watch is water-resistant to 100 meters and comes in a 47mm satin-finished titanium case with an engraved, scratch-resistant ceramic bezel and a tactile sapphire crystal. There are versions in black or rose gold PVD, with a choice of different colored rubber straps or a titanium bracelet.
Timing The Challenge
The T-Touch Connect Solar is not a fitness watch per se, but it had everything we needed for the Wildlife Ranger Challenge. We relied on the countdown timer for the two-minute challenges, and practical weather information and altitude indicator for our 21km hike. We also particularly appreciated the step counter and the phone, text, and email notifications while walking. What we really valued was the ease of use via the tactile screen and electronic crown, the easy-to-read indications (at night and in direct sunlight), as well as the fact that the watch is solar powered so there is no need to take it off to charge.
During the challenge, only the best score from each team was recorded. Obviously, with Dubler and Holmes, we did quite well in the two-minute challenges. Holmes aced the push-ups with 84 in two minutes. Dubler killed the burpees with 75, and Holmes got 67 sit-ups. We hiked across the vineyards of Vevey in about five hours, recording 35,000 steps, a distance of 21.2km, and an altitude of 589 meters on our Tissot timepieces.
Thanks to a worldwide fundraising effort, 9,473 rangers and 64,024 livelihoods have been positively impacted, 119 protected areas are now benefiting from grants, and 4,243,769 km2 of wild ecosystems are protected, along with the 45 endangered species that live there. It is amazing what can be achieved when people come together, even remotely.
I am continuing to work on my push-ups and Lindenberg is searching for our next challenge, but I have told him to take his time.