How Tissot Watch Notifies About a Weak Battery

Watches usually don’t have a digital display which shows a battery status icon. As a result, users are informed about the weak battery in the least convenient moment: when they check the time and the watch hands are still.

Tissot has found a super-usable way to inform the user about a weak battery in the watch.

Let’s see how Tissot watch notifies about a weak battery. The idea is wonderfully simple. When the battery level is low, the second hand moves only every 4 seconds. It still shows correct time, but with lower frequency. Thanks to that, it uses less energy to move the hand and it tells the user the battery level is low.

How Tissot watch notifies about a weak battery

The second hand moves every 4 seconds and still shows correct time.

I love the simplicity of this solution. Many other companies would work hard to design a separate place on the watch indicating the battery status. Tissot found a better way to do that.

Good job, Tissot!

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  • g105b

    Who needs a smart watch when they can have a sensible one?

  • I know that Citizen uses a similar solution at least in their diving watches. Simple, yet elegant!

  • рома

    I think this isn’t an obvious sign that the battery is low. Someone may bring their watch for a replacement just to be informed that it isn’t in fact a malfunction.

    • Exactly my thoughts.
      That’s a poor design solution that isn’t obvious and offers zero usability.

    • If you think about that in a wider context, it starts to make sense. On a daily basis, the watch user can see the second hand moves every 1 second.

      One day, the user notices the hand stops to move (these are the first 2-3 seconds when you notice that), and then the hand moves again, 4 seconds in one shot. And it moves again after another 4 seconds. Most users can connect it with the fact that they bought the watch ~2 years ago. And here comes the thought: “Oh, it may be the battery.”

      Of course some users may be confused, but I think it’s a minority.

    • Where is the problem? The store will replace the battery.

      The watch is now with a new battery, ready to go for x more years.

    • Kendal Richer

      It’s not obvious that the battery is low, per se, but it is a good way of alerting the user that action is needed without disrupting the essential functionality (showing the correct time).

      Many user interfaces “in the real world” employ this same paradigm; without the flexibility of an interactive display to show more specific error messages, it is common to use a general indication that attention is required (e.g. a single LED bulb that only lights for special circumstances).

      While the action required by the user isn’t clear (unless they read the owner’s manual – and who does that for a watch, really??), the “on boarding” process would be very quick. They either refer to the manual or call/visit a customer service rep… either way, they learn that this is an indication of low battery, and they likely remember that forevermore.

      As opposed to other solutions – no indicator, and the watch just dies; dedicated indicator of battery life that would clutter the interface for a rare, singular event – I think this is the most elegant solution by far.

    • pauselaugh

      Obvious is only necessary for idiots. Claiming “it is confusing” or “doesn’t offer usability” is solved by being even minorly aware of the functionality of your device.

      I know, its unbelievable, but your role as designer isn’t to craft things people already know. There still can be learning involved.

      This is an ancient method of denoting that a watch needs to be wound again. It is something that once you know.

      What ISN’T obvious and ISN’T good design are watches that do nothing but run slower as power or winding is less available. It is nice that a modern company is applying hundreds of years old craft to their product that anyone with a winding watch was aware of.

      Modern designers (and people) with a lack of awareness of history should abstain from making comments on what is or isn’t “intuitive.”

      Inanimate things aren’t “intuitive.” People themselves have intuition based on their intelligence and history.

      The dumb kid in my school 40 years ago couldn’t figure out how to not shit in his pants. I wouldn’t call pants unintuitive or non-obvious to not shit in.

    • +1 isn’t an obvious sign.

  • Romi Rockstar

    This function in every quartz watch nothing is new.

    • Mauno Aho

      Well. Today there is nothing new in this but perhaps in more than 20 years the competitors have had time enough to copy this brilliant idea
      I have a 1994 Tissot Seastar which has this feature. Am I more clever than average (not) but I could figure this out immediately when the watch battery was after 5 years running out? Putting a blinking LED there would be just such Far-East design that it just does not fit to a quality product.

  • dannysmith

    British G10 Millitary watches have had this for years.

  • Dont Work


  • This is confusing behavior for a watch that doesn’t have a battery in the first place. The pictured, Tissot “Powermatic 80” uses an ETA C07.111 mechanical movement with an 80-hour power reserve (spring, not a battery). The ETA C07.111 is an automatic movement, so the spring will “automatically” wind itself via kinetic energy from the natural movement of the watch-wearer. The only time these watches tend to run out of power is when they are stationary for periods greater than their reserve, basically when they aren’t being worn at all with no one likely to notice the second hand moving once every four seconds…

  • Paul Peterson

    I, too, like the simplicity. I agree that Tissot’s solution may not be obvious. But once you learn it, you’re not likely to forget it. It’s memorable. And I like the 4-second skip more than a 2-second skip, because a 4-second skip is more noticeable.

  • CFinSF

    I have a Tag Heuer watch that’s 13 years old and it does the same thing…I don’t think this is anything new or innovative.

  • jedrzejb

    Great content

  • Robert Dishington

    Tag Heuer did it every 2 seconds – over 25 years ago.

  • This is an old concept. Some Breitling watches do have this function since years.