Watchismo Times | category: calculator


Watchismo Times

THE WATCHISMO TIMES WATCH BLOG A reliquary of obscure timepieces from bygone eras as well as the cutting-edge watch designs of today.

Look at Legendary LEDs of Lloyd's Large Collection


With the recent release of the $350,000 Opus 8 ->(link) and the de Grisogono Meccanico dG ->(link) with their mechanically mimicked LED digits, I wanted to also share this video and photos from the collection of UK LED collector, Lloyd "Theledwatch". He was recently featured on Antiques Roadshow (see video above) where he shared some of the best examples of early 1970s digital light emitting diode watches like the Pulsar Hamilton P1, Girard Perregaux Casquette, Omega Time Computer and my one-of-a-kind favorites by the Royal designer Andrew Grima.

Some highlights of Lloyd's collection including the rarest and most valuable vintage digital LED watches of the seventies; (text also from

The Hewlett Packard HP-01 LED Watch calculator was a marvel of miniaturization and intelligent design. It was HP's first watch and their first small algebraic calculator but it was more than just a wristwatch and a calculator in the same package.

It combined them to do things that neither could do alone. Its user interface combined the best of both worlds. For example, to change time zones, the user displayed the time, added or subtracted the appropriate amount and stored the result.

Three styles of the Hewlett Packard HP-01 Calculator Watches

In the late 1960's and throughout the 1970's, Andrew Grima was commissioned by various members of the British and Scandinavian Royal family including Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret, to make various items of jewelry.

Mr. Grima's work is very highly sought after and collectors pay many thousands of pounds for his rare and beautiful pieces.. During the 70's his work was sold in an exclusive gallery in Knightsbridge (LONDON) and would range form many thousands to a million pounds plus.

Another one-of-a-kind Grima LED!

The rarest calculator watch by Uranus

Girard Perregaux's perfectly designed sideview "Casquette"

GP Casquette in Macrolon (also avail in gold)

The first solar powered watch by Synchronar
Invented by Roger Riehl in the late sixties
(Read previous post about history of Solar watches-->Link)
Rare Synchronar Ad for Women

Roger Tallon's original 1975 asymmetric LIP Mach 2000 models
(above and below)

The first electronic digital watches on the market by Hamilton-Pulsar

1973 Pulsar P2 for Tiffany & Co.

The ultra-rare Pulsar P1 in solid 18k
Only a few dozen in circulation valued at around $20k

Pulsar Calculator watches in steel and solid gold
The original 18k models sold for $3950.00 in 1975

Original Pulsar Advertising

Before going under in 1978, Pulsar introduced their very rare "Greenie"

1973 Omega TC-1 in solid 18k gold

1975 Longines LED

1976 Breitling Navitimer
(only produced one year before the LCD version)

Very rare Benrus "Pop-Up" LED Sideview
(case physically pops up when button is pressed and time is displayed)

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Ancient Nerds - History of Computing & The Earliest Calculating Devices has a fantastic overview of the history of computing with a special focus of early mechanical calculating devices-->LINK

Some examples from the feature;

Ancient Nerds - History of Computing & The Earliest Calculating DevicesThe 2000 year old Antikythera Mechanism, the worlds oldest computing device (and 1000 years more advanced than comparable mechanisms). Only discovered 100 years ago in a shipwreck.

Ancient Nerds - History of Computing & The Earliest Calculating DevicesWilhelm Schickard’s Calculating Clock (1632) that could add and subtract six-digit numbers (with a bell as an overflow alarm). This invention was used by his friend, astronomer Johannes Kepler, to calculate astronomical tables, which was a big leap for astronomy at the time. For this, Wilhelm Schickard was considered by some to be the "Father of Computer Age."

Ancient Nerds - History of Computing & The Earliest Calculating DevicesBlaise Pascal’s Pascaline (or Arithmetique) from 1645 - The basic mechanism of the Pascaline is a series of gears - when the first gear with ten teeth made one rotation (one to ten), it shifts a second gear until it rotated ten times (one hundred). The second gear shifted a third one (thousands) and so on. This mechanism is still in use today in car odometers, electricity meters and at the gas pumps.

Ancient Nerds - History of Computing & The Earliest Calculating DevicesGerman mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz' Stepped Reckoner of the 17th century was inspired by a steps-counting machine (pedometer) he saw to build his own calculator. Leibniz’s design used a special type of gear called the Stepped Drum or Leibniz wheel, a cylinder with nine bar-shaped teeth along its length.

Ancient Nerds - History of Computing & The Earliest Calculating DevicesCharles Babbage’s Difference Engine from 1822 was considered one of the first mechanical computers. Despite of its unwieldy design, his plan called for a basic architecture very similar to that of a modern computer.

Ancient Nerds - History of Computing & The Earliest Calculating DevicesDuring World War II, Nazi Germany used an electro-mechanical cipher machine called Enigma to encrypt and decrypt coded messages. It used rotors to substitute letters (for example, an "E" might be coded as "T"). The genius of the Enigma was that the machine used polyalphabetic cipher, where the rotation of the rotors allowed each subsequent letters to be encoded in a different manner. (For example, "EEE" might be become "TIF").

See the rest, including the dawn of digital computing here-->Link

via BoingBoing from Neatorama

See also;
All Watchmaking Posts
History of the First Digital Calculator Watches
1960s Juvenia Protractor Watch
Multi-Functional Watches
Slide Rule Wristwatches
Gadget Timepieces

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VINTAGE WATCHING - 1970 Prototype Concept Calculator Watch by Litronix

VINTAGE WATCHING - 1970 Prototype Concept Calculator Watch by LitronixThis week's "Vintage Watching" presents an opportunity to own a one-of-a-kind chunk of electronic watch history. A 1970's concept calculator watch by Litronix.

Litronix, primarily an LED supplier to the other vintage digital watch brands including the first Hamilton-Pulsar digital watches. Featured here are these two experimental prototype calculator concept watches Litronix was considering for development.

But what makes this strange watch special is the unusual feature of sliders instead of buttons. Likely an attempt to improve the data entry from multiple miniature buttons to a more tactile sliding mechanism. The sliders move over a commutator which is a pc board segment. I assume you move them to the desired number and press down for selection but it sure seems like a waste of time. I guess that's why it never went into production, huh? Maybe someone can let me know if this slider function has ever been developed into another product from that time.

VINTAGE WATCHING - 1970 Prototype Concept Calculator Watch by LitronixThe second model shown here is just a block of metal, likely an earlier prototype of the one above.

The owner auctioning it (ends in less than a week), says he bought them a few decades ago a local watch and clock collectors' meeting. It is non-functional but nevertheless an interesting segment of calculator watch evolution.

VINTAGE WATCHING - 1970 Prototype Concept Calculator Watch by LitronixThree battery compartments on back

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Satellite Telephone Wristwatches of 1979

Satellite Telephone Wristwatches of 1979
A cell phone vision from the 1979 book "Future Cities - Homes & Living into the 21st Century". Page 12 foreshadows a telephone wristwatch (they even speculate the nickname "The Risto") connected by satellites and capable of electronic mail and most surprisingly, electronic voting. All activated by pressing the aerial pop-out button!

Satellite Telephone Wristwatches of 1979Cover of the book

Satellite Telephone Wristwatches of 1979
via Paleo-Future

Related posts;
Wrist Radios
Camera Watches
James Bond Watches

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Vintage Watching #2 - 1975 Solid Gold Pulsar LED Calculator Watch

Vintage Watching #2 - 1975 Solid Gold Pulsar LED Calculator Watch
A very rare solid gold Pulsar LED Calculator being sold by Usick-->Link

Originally sold in 1975 for $3750, this model is now priced at $10,000 obo and appears to be near mint. More info.

Can't afford 10k? The stainless steel and gold-fill versions are more accessible-->Link

Related posts;
History of Calculator Watches-->Link
Math Watches-->Link
History of Solar Watches-->Link
James Bond Watches-->Link

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MATH WATCHES - Protractor and Slide Ruler Timepieces

Fifties geek-chic with this vintage 1958 Juvenia 'Architecture' watch featuring protractor and ruler hands. Featured in the Brunner/Pfeiffer-Belli book 'Wristwatches'

Their earlier 1945 Juvenia 'Arithmo' Slide Rule Watch

And with the door open to slide-rule watches, the testosterone-fueled leader of the math geeks is the 1973 Heuer 'Calculator.'

1990's Megapode

The Megapode, Ikepod's contribution to the hip mathematician. Is that an oxymoron?
2007 Megapode

Vintage Solar Powered Watches - A Partly Cloudy History

Evolution of the Sundial

1. Synchronar - Conceived in the early sixties and first produced in 1968, the first Solar watch ever was invented by the reclusive inventor Roger Riehl. Solar panels on the top with a sideview LED display. Heavily debated within a microcosm of vintage watch collectors as the first digital watch ever. That distinction is commonly given to the 1970's Pulsar LED. 

2. Nepro - 1975 LED with raised display and backside solar panels.

3. Uranus - "This is one of the earliest LED watches in existence. It is one of the very earliest "wearable" wristwatches made by Uranus (approx. 1971) and one of only a few made (hugely expensive to build). It actually predates the Pulsar and launched Uranus into a patent fight with Hamilton (Uranus lost). The thing that makes this watch unique is that it does not use an LSI (large scale integrated chip) but instead is made up of discrete logic and driver chips using hundreds of wire bonds to connect them up. It is truly a packaging marvel. The display is only hours and minutes. The face is divided in half horizontally with the LED in the upper half, the lower half being composed of solar cells in a fan pattern to supplement the battery, all in a gold filled case." by Guy Ball

4. Sicura LCD - 1976 LCD with innovative solution of putting solar panels on the side of the watch.

Sicura Ad

5. Sicura Analog - 1978 Analog version of the same watch.

6. Junghans 'Mega Solar' - 1990's radio-controlled, PVD-coated wristwatch with solar cell, date and integrated radio receiver from one of the most accurate clocks in the world - the Caesium Time Base at Germany’s National Institute of Natural Engineering and Sciences.

7. Citizen Crystron - 1976 "This was the first solar-powered analog wristwatch. It conformed to the conventional design of most analog watches except for the four square gray panels that take up most of the face. This watch began Citizen’s long-term commitment to solar powered watches, which has culminated in the very successful Eco-Drive line of watches." by Soluhr

8. Calcron & Louis Erard Calculator Watches - Mid to late seventies solar calculator watches with side panels. The non-solar Calcron is believed to be the first ever wrist-calculator watch made as originally featured here-->Link

9. Cristalonic 'Solar Quartz' by GmbH - 1980's LCD with an asymmetric black plastic case.

Cristalonic Advertisements

10. Lorus - 1980's solar LCD. A division of Seiko.

Sadly, development of the modern light-powered watch, like the Citizen Eco-Drive, eliminated the need for innovative visual configurations as solar panels now absorb light through traditional watch dials. It was fun while it lasted...

Calculating the History of LED Calculator Watches

1975 Calcron Calculator Watch

Playboy magazine, June 1975...A gift-giving advertisement with ideas for dads & grads included this guy hidden in the back. The Calcron LED Wrist Calculator. Likely the first public offering of it's kind.

Pulsar Calculator Watch
Once thought to be the first calculator watch, the Hamilton Pulsar Company introduced their own version in late 1975.

1976 Uranus Calculator Watch

Obscure company Uranus creates a very unusual calculator watch with revolutionary "touch-friendly" buttons. (Most up to this point required a stylus pen for calculations) Sadly, very few exist today and even less in working condition. Both rarity and eccentricity make this the most valuable calculator watch to collect.

1977 Hewlett Packard HP-01 (prototype shown)

Hewlett Packard's appropriate contribution to the appendage calculation device. Article mentions "about 50,000 HP-01s had been made, of which about a half had been purchased by a Saudi prince. Half the rest were sold through shops, then the remainder was sold to HP employees at a clearance price." 

1977 Sinclair Kit LED Calculator Watch

Sinclair's "home assembled" offering (without time function) and ultimate failure due to ill-fitting parts. Article mentions "more than 10,000 Wrist Calculators were sold to masochistic hobbyists from all parts of the world." 

1976-78 Hughes Aircraft Calculator Watch

Hughes Aircraft Company (as in Howard Hughes) created this super-block calculator watch between 1976 and 78. One of the most outlandish due to it's massive metal casing. Worn by Lorne Greene and other cast mates on the 70's show Battlestar Gallactica.

Assorted 1980's LCD Calculator Watches - Link to NerdWatchMuseum

And along come the 80's...LCD technology is in full swing and every imaginable company produces LCD calculator watches as sampled above.
Look at Legendary LEDs of Lloyd's Large CollectionAncient Nerds - History of Computing & The Earliest Calculating DevicesVINTAGE WATCHING - 1970 Prototype Concept Calculator Watch by LitronixSatellite Telephone Wristwatches of 1979Vintage Watching #2 - 1975 Solid Gold Pulsar LED Calculator WatchMATH WATCHES - Protractor and Slide Ruler TimepiecesVintage Solar Powered Watches - A Partly Cloudy History

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