PJ DIARY: Adventuring on the Alps with Tissot

Spot the train! PJ's Kathryn, third right, joins Tissot in Switzerland.

PJ’s Kathryn celebrates the watch brand’s Jungfrau collaboration.

Having stepped off the plane from Basel armed with press releases, news and of course a bit of gossip it was barely a few days until I was touching down again in Switzerland with the lovely girls from Tissot watches.

After a few night’s sleep here in London I was thoroughly looking forward to some fresh mountain air, while finding out more about the brand’s new collaboration with Jungfraubahn – the mountain railway which travels to several thousand metres above sea level, through villages, clouds and rock to reach the highest railway station in Europe at the top of the Jungfraujoch, in the Bernese Alps.

Joined by Jim Hill from Wired magazine, Duncan Bell of T3 and Toby Wiseman from Men’s Health I was a little perturbed that I might end up the butt of laddish jokes or confused by all the tech speak that might come from men who had a vast array of gadgets stowed in their bags (Jim, I’m talking to you.)  But of course the boys were charming and Victoria and Claudia from Tissot fun and witty, full of news about the brand’s collaboration with the Jungfraubahn.

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As it stands, the Jungfraubahn is celebrating its centenary next year, and with Swiss railways goes Swiss timekeeping and the resulting unison of Tissot with the Jungfraubahn to create a collection of commemorative watches. And rather lovely they are too, with both classic designs and more sporty styles with on-trend orange straps.

Travelling into the Alps meant that Tissot also equipped us each with a T-Touch watch, the first touch screen watch, invented long before the advent of the iPod. That’s right; Tissot beat Apple to it by several years and playing around with a T-Touch I have to say I was suitably impressed. Want to know the chances of rain? The T-Touch will tell you. Need a compass when you’re lost in the woods and feeling a Bear Grylls moment coming on? Yep, it’ll do that too.

Sitting in a lovely old train travelling up a mountain side – the railway ran on cogs, bearing even more associations to the intricacies of timekeeping – we also took time to try out the altimeter feature of the T-Touch watch, and as we hit each village on the way up from the chocolate box, to the car-free, to the snow-covered, the altimeter was faultless in telling me just how far above sea level I was. It was pretty novel watching the numbers go steadily up, comparing altitudes with one another while joking with Jim who was measuring the height across several other gizmos. We left him to it, even when he dropped his iPad2 into snow in what was like a knife through butter moment. Not the best time to be digging around without gloves.

On the way down we took our lives into our own hands with a spot of sledging by the railway, which grown adults not used to the lack of oxygen at altitude should probably avoid. The result was of course several bruises, some tumbles and some high-speed races. I’m very proud to say that in our final race I came in third place behind Jim and Toby, despite falling over countless times as I hauled myself and my sledge up the slope, while dodging super speed nine-year-old skiiers.

The highlight of the trip, beyond being dazzled by the mountain views from the top of Jungfraujoch, the same location that scenes in Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was filmed, had to be our visit to a traditional Swiss restaurant. With two no-cheese eaters on a trip that pretty much equalled eating fondue, the leopard-print jumper wearing restaurant owner wasn’t very pleased us. You see, we’d pre-ordered a giant fondue. Nevertheless, the wine kept coming by the bottle (we didn’t have to ask, she knew) and every bit of bubbling cheese was mopped up by the rest of us.

The collaboration between Tissot and the Jungfraubahn is a perfect match and with the official centenary next year, the celebrations in the area are going to be great and the watches will certainly become a collector’s item. As the daughter of a big steam train fan I think a little bit of the magic had rubbed off on me, and it was hard not to sit nose-to-glass as we gently rumbled up the mountain side. I even gave Dad a copy of the Swiss railway map and tourism guide. I think he might have just booked his holiday for next year…

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