• From: "Robert Stokes" <restokes@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <access-uk@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 21 Oct 2004 20:27:20 +0100

Hi Ian,

I must say, I like the idea of having one of these watches but there's no 
way I'd be prepared to pay the rip-off price being charged by RNIB. You say, 
they would be willing to make representations to Tissot to see if the price 
could be lowered if more of us indicated we were willing to buy the watch. 
Well, that sounds like a lot of old tosh to me. Is the lady you spoke to 
saying that Tissot have set the price at which the watch can be resold? 
Surely, that's been illegal since MRP was abolished many years ago.  If it 
is the case, which I very much doubt, why are they allowing Sendero Group to 
sell at a much lower price than RNIB?

When this subject was raised by Alex Stone a few weeks ago, I  reported that 
a member of Cobolt staff had told me at Sight Village they were evaluating 
the watch and expected it would sell for around £182 which is more or less 
in line with Sendero's price. I sent an email to Cobolt on 13 October asking 
if they still intended to market the product but have yet to receive a 
reply. I'll certainly let you know, if and when I hear anything.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Ian Macrae" <ian.macrae@xxxxxxxxx>
To: <access-uk@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Thursday, October 21, 2004 2:52 PM
Subject: [access-uk] VIBRATING TACTILE WATCH

Hi all,
As promised earlier, here's a digest of my thoughts on the Tissot SilenT 
vibrating tactile watch.  It's slightly augmented from what appeared on the 
In Touch web pages following the show. One thing I haven't included in the 
formal review is that this watch looks like what it is, a quality Swiss 
watch.  Given it's price, it's clearly something which people might choose 
to buy taking its look and style into account alongside its difference from 
a conventional tactile watch.  I'd be happy to try to answer any questions 
about aspects of the watch's design or operation.  But I can't comment 
further than I have on its price or RNIB's decision to carry it as a line as 
I have no responsibility for or control over either of those things.

This stylish-looking watch is very different from other tactile watches. 
They have lids which you lift up to reveal hands which can be touched and 
dots around the face at the 12 time points.

The SilenT from Swiss watch-maker Tissot (which also has a silent T) has a 
flat smooth face surrounded by a raised metal bezel.  The bezel has raised 
markings on it to show the 12 time points which also appear on the analogue 
face itself as white marks with numbers at points 12 and 6.  The face is 
black and the watch has white hands which makes them easy to see.  But the 
hands are not available to touch.  However, as you'll find out, you don't 
need to be able to feel them.  For people with some sight, the watch face is 
clear and is also illuminated in the dark.

The watch is very easy to operate and has only one control, a button 
positioned at the 3 o'clock point on the outside casing where you'd normally 
find the winder.

To tell the time you simply press this button for less than 2 seconds and 
run your index finger clockwise around the smooth face.  When I first had 
the watch, the temptation was to run my finger around the raised metal bezel 
because that's where the markings are, but it's important to remember that 
you have to touch the flat face.  When you reach the point where the hour is 
indicated you feel a continuous vibration.  When you reach the point where 
the minute hand is, you feel a series of intermittent vibrations depending 
on how many minutes through the hour you are.  For example, at 18 minutes 
past 6, there will be a continuous vibration at the six o'clock point on the 
face and a burst of three intermittent vibrations to show that the time is 
three minutes past the 15 minute point.  Similarly, at 22 minutes or 36 
minutes past the hour you'll feel bursts of two and one vibrations at the 4 
and 7 points respectively.  When the hand is pointing at the actual mark (at 
quarter past
 , twenty to etc) you feel a continuous stream of intermittent vibrations. 
When both hands are over the same point, for example at twenty to eight, 
there is a long burst of vibration followed by a succession of shorter 
intermittent ones indicating the number of minutes past that point have been 
reached.  The other thing to remember is that, when going back up the hour 
from the half hour, the watch continues to represent the time as minutes 
past the hour, not minutes to it.  So, although the time may be quarter to 
nine, the continuous hour vibration will continue to appear at the 8.  Users 
of talking or visual digital watches will quickly get used to this.

If you press the button and run your finger counter-clockwise around the 
face the hands automatically move to the time at which the watch's alarm is 
currently set.  Setting both the time and the alarm are easily done without 
sight although the instructions which come on an audio CD with the watch 
make things appear more complicated than they actually are.  However, I 
understand that the RNIB is proposing to re-write the instructions and 
supply them in Braille with the watch.

I found that this watch allows sight impaired people to tell the time 
through touch quickly effectively and discretely.  Setting the time and the 
vibrating alarm was easily done by tactile means.  Indeed, the watch 
appeared to have been designed for use with the needs of VI people 
particularly in mind since there were tactile vibrating cues for most of the 
functions.  The vibrating alarm was useful both as a reminder and a wake-up 

The watch will be available from RNIB from November 1 and will cost £285 for 
the version with a sturdy black leather strap and £295 for one with a metal 
bracelet. Those prices are inclusive of VAT so that can be deducted for 
blind and partially sighted customers.  Enquiries and pre-orders at RNIB 
customer Services.

One UK resident I know of has already bought the watch from


a US-based website where prices are $165 and $229 respectively.  However, 
there was a shipping charge to this customer of $100.  Tissot has also told 
us that,

"Tissot watches are only available from stockists - jewellers, department 
stores - and for this piece, the RNIB.  We do not sell direct to the public 
or from any web site."

So, if you intend to buy from this or any other website, you should check 
that they are offering the full 2 year warrantee which authorised Tissot 
distributors, including RNIB offer with the watch and that all other 
consumer rights are in tact.

RNIB acknowledges that the price may seem  high but both they and Tissot 
point out that this is a high quality Swiss watch and a high value product. 
RNIB also makes the point that it now supplies tactile, talking and 
easy=-to-see watches to fit every lifestyle and pocket from a talking watch 
for £5.00 to this luxury item at the high end of the range.  When I 
suggested to them that it was a shame that such a revolutionary, useful and 
easy to use item was priced so prohibitively for many of their customers. 
Sandra Taylor from the Peterborough office said that if customer feedback 
indicated that  more people would by the watch if it was cheaper, she would 
be prepared to make representations to Tissot to see if the price could be 

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