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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

80s Digital Watches

1970s style LED watch
There can be hardly anyone who lived through the 1980s who didn't own a digital watch at some point. Indeed, they became so popular that trying to find an old analogue watch in the Argos catalogue was like looking for a contraceptive pill in a convent.

Digital Watches first launched in the 70s and featured a red LED display. Seiko and Texas Instruments were amongst the first companies to take them into mass production. However, they were problematic and used so much battery power that you needed to replace the battery every couple of weeks or so. Because of this, they were soon replaced by the more convenient LCD watches, and Casio became one of the market leaders during the 1980s.

As with many new electronic gadgets the watches soon became more complex, and companies competed with each other to cram as many features as they possibly could into a wristwatch. Casio released their now iconic calculator and databank watches, and Seiko launched their first TV watch in 1982. Amusingly, some even had built-in thermometers, and trying to buy a watch to actually tell the time became irrelevant.

My parents bought me my first digital watch in 1982 which was made by Texas Instruments. It was pretty basic, but featured a cool glow in the dark luminous green background. Watches quickly became ever more complex, and within about a year everyone wanted the new-fangled calculator watches. In 1984, I persuaded my parents to buy me a Casio model for Christmas which had a built-in Space Invaders game. Indeed, there were so many features that actually remembering where the time mode was on the darn thing became almost an impossibility - you could find yourself spending half a day frantically pressing the buttons just to get back to the time mode!

80s LCD gold digital watch
80s style gold LCD watch by Trixes
There are plenty of retro style digital watches available today with a 1970s or 80s style. There is a lovely selection of 70s LED watches at Amazon.co.uk which look exactly like the one my Dad owned back in the day. Starting at little short of £50 they're not cheap, but for retro coolness they can't be beaten. The gold tone 80s watch featured here costs less than a fiver, and if you're planning on dressing-up for an 80s party then it would be a cost-effective way to add the finishing touch to your costume. For long-term use I would doubt it's going to last that long, although you should never judge a book by its cover, of course.

If you want a truly authentic 80s watch with lasting appeal then it's worth paying a bit more. Casio are still producing some of the exact same models they were around three decades ago, but with improved technology inside the casing, of course.

Let's take a look at the models available.

Gold Casio WR 80s Digital Watch
Casio WR Gold 80s Watch
Now, this looks very much like the watch I bought in the latter half of the 80s, except mine was made from black plastic because that's all I could afford at the time. Whether gold-toned or not, this model was a lot less complicated to use. Gold watches became highly popular, particularly amongst YUPPIES - remember them?

However, to be a true YUPPIE you needed a Casio Databank.

Retro 80s Casio Gold Data Bank Watch
Retro 80s Casio Data Bank Watch
This is from Casio's retro collection and look's exactly how I remember them. These were far too highly-priced for someone who was in their late teens (as I was) but very suitable for anyone who had some cash to spare, such as your boss!

The following watches are typical of the popular models we were all wearing in the 1980s and can, fortunately, still be bought today. I particularly like the Timex with it's luminous green display that reminds me of my first aforementioned digital watch by Texas Instruments.

Casio Calculator Watch


Relevant posts on this blog:

Back to the Future Watch/Costume
Inflatable 80s Mobile YUPPIE phone

You can read more about 80s fashion at my website SimplyEighties.com