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Titan leads the way to light

Priyanka Joshi  |  Mumbai 

Light as faint as that from a candle or the display screen of a mobile phone can recharge this Titan watch. The new range of watches under the High Tech Self Energised (HTSE) platform have a photovoltaic panel under the watch dial that converts light into electrical energy.

“As a concept, this isn't new. But to run a watch on this was an innovative start for us,” says Nagaraj head (innovation & design), Titan.

Titan had earlier tried to achieve this feat to compete with Citizen's Eco Drive 'light-powered' watches, without much success. A three-member team had worked on the concept for nearly three years and developed the HTSE platform that now powers Titan's latest watch collection.

The HTSE collection, comprising 10 different styles, is priced between Rs 6,495 and Rs 10,995, and is currently available in the top 12 cities across the country.

Watches built on the HTSE platform convert electrical energy from light sources like sunlight, diffused light (which bounces off a rough surface or scattered by a translucent medium and thus reflected or scattered in different directions) and candle light and store it in a lithium-ion battery. HTSE draws its design inspiration from space stations, satellites and space ships that use photo-voltaic panels for their energy requirements. “The watches, when fully charged, can run up to 100 days if you decide to keep them in the dark or in drawers. When worn, the watches will continuously charge themselves every time they come in contact with a light source,” says Nagaraj.

The feedback from customer revealed users practically never changed batteries in their old watches and were increasingly looking for eco-friendly devices. To ensure they had the concept and the product right, Titan tested the working prototype of the watch for about six months. “For the first time, we made 230 working prototypes of the HTSE platform watches, distributed them among people working in different light conditions and tested the performance,” Nagaraj says. For all other watch platforms, the company makes up to 10 working prototypes that are tested by consumers. The inclusion of features like 'sleep mode', which increases the shelf life of the battery, 'end of life' that alerts the user to recharge the battery, and 'over charge prevention' that won't let the watch overcharge, make it a handy tech-device.

Nagaraj, who used a working prototype of a HTSE watch, says, “I have worked on watches for over 25 years and have never been a passionate watch user myself. This was the first time in my career that I have worn a watch and have grown fond of it.” He has also been involved in developing Titan's Edge platform, which makes the slimmest watches in the world. Titan Edge watches have an ultra slim quartz watch that is just 1.2 mm thick. Nagaraj and his team have already moved on to a concept. “We are hoping to convert the Edge series into HTSE-enabled. While this is still in the concept stage, we should be ready with a working prototype model in the next six months,” he says.

Manufacturing light-powered watches is not a new concept. Eco Drive watches from Citizen, for instance, also use light as a source of energy. Sunlight, as well as artificial light, is absorbed through the crystal and the dial. A solar cell beneath the dial converts any form of light into electrical energy to power the watch. A lithium-ion rechargeable battery stores enough energy to power the watch from 80 days to five years, according to the company website.

Solar-powered watches, too, work on a similar to HTSE's. Titan watches can be recharged in diffused light and indirect light sources like mobile screens and candle light. Solar-powered watches, on the other hand, are powered entirely or partly by a solar panel. Watch manufacturers, including Junghans, Casio G-shock and Casio Oceanus, also offer similar watches.

First Published: Thu, July 14 2011. 00:10 IST