Wrist watch museum

I've always had a thing for digital wrist watches, and am always on the lookout (although sometimes years pass without buying a new one). If I were to tell you I have a thing for mechanical pencils as well, then yes, you may call me a nerd. I compiled a list of past and present ones, as well as ones that I've spotted and might buy. This is not really a review. Think of it as a museum. I will add items to it if and when I find more or feel like photographing my older ones. I've never stopped wondering what's more nerd-like: the fact that I have this thing, or the fact that I keep all those watches in a box? Anyhow, by now, you must've guessed it: I have many more than what I'm showing here, I'm just reluctant to admit it smiley.

Hover your mouse over the thumbnails to take a closer look. Real photos of my own small collection will be up soon.

No pic Melody watch - (No picture yet) In my preteen years, it started with a digital LCD watch that could play a melody. The melody was a typical Irish bagpipes song.
No pic Calculator watch - (No picture yet) From my allowance I bought a calculator watch, when calculator watches became cheap enough for little boys to buy.
Black Swatch Black Swatch - After that I went to my only full analog watch, be it an electronic one. It's a black and white classic Swatch with day and date. The picture shows a different model; mine has a black dial. At 15 years old, this is my oldest watch that I would still wear. It needs a new band, though.
No pic Ectron watch - (No picture yet) Another weird LCD watch. This one has three display lines, showing date, alarm time and main time, all at once. It had a sort of rubber touch pad with 6 buttons. As you can see, the pad came off.
Casio VDB200B Casio VDB200B - This was my most expensive watch ever. A three line display, one of them dot matrix. But what really set this watch apart was its 8-button touch screen. Unfortunately it suffered water damage, but it's pretty worn anyway, being mostly made of plastic.
No pic Commodoor Basic watch - (No picture yet) A very basic but pretty much indestructable watch, for which the controller chip has been around for something like thirty years.
No pic Commodoor Fisheye watch - (No picture yet) Basic watch with a bulging display. Has the exact same innards as the basic watch above. It's pretty worn.
Timex Data Link USB Timex Data Link USB - This watch is the most fun I've ever had with a watch. Most of the very contrasty screen is dot matrix, and it has a USB port via which you can upload (even your own) small applications that can be run by the watch itself. Hard to get in the European Union, or at least very expensive. I set up a Timex datalink USB resource page for this watch.
Fila Grand Prix Fila Grand Prix - Another dot matrix watch. The sleekest looking in this list with a gorgeous display and day-to-day alarms. Unfortunalty it's all plastic, except for the buckle and back. It has some quirks, too.
Timex Expedition combo Timex Expedition combo - My second analog watch, be it with a digital part. Bead blasted grey stainless steel case and band. Tough look, but modern and classic at the same time.
Casio G-shock 7800B-1 Casio G-shock 7800B-1 - The Casio G-shock line is the best selling line of digital timepieces ever. With a firm interest by adventurer type men, but also in extreme sports by both men and women. But of course they're perfectly suited for every day with a tough look. The 7800 is one of the few square G-shocks, and the only model without 7-segment digits.
Casio G-shock 7710-1 Casio G-shock 7710-1 - The 7710 is one of the smaller and slimmer G-shocks. It also has one of the most elaborate modules in the G-shock line, containing about every timing and alarm feature you'd ever need. Along with a 5-item LCD, everything you need to know about the time can be seen at a glance.

I am a fan of detailed dot matrix displays on watches, but not of utterly useless geek stuff. Full dot matrix displays in wrist watches took a very long time to catch on, some exceptions aside (the awesome but plastic Seiko Data-2000). I guess it must be difficult to drive such a complicated LCD at extremely low power. Or it may have something to do with low demand; people might actually like the blocky 7-segment displays (a century-old invention), and are simply not interested in a watch with an actual typeface and text user interface. They want a digital watch, and blocky 7-segment digits is what symbolizes digital time. That probably explains why so many dot matrix watches still use a blocky typeface. Their designers seem to be missing the point completely. I mean, look at the Arnette and Diesel watches in the list below. All the pixels in the world, and what do they come up with? Blocks!

Below are some watches I spotted, many with dot matrix displays, and some even ludicrously hightech, but none very expensive, some even dirt cheap. A few of these were on my wishlist once, but the Timex Datalink USB is much cooler than all of them. Then again... to me, watches are what shoes are to most women, and since I got my first Timex Datalike USB, I've bought two other watches, among those one with hands!

Now for the list. Not in any particular order, but the more advanced geek stuff that hardly serves any purpose is down the bottom. With one exception. The IBM Watchpad, the ultimate geek watch deserves a special mention: it's at the top.

IBM WatchPad IBM WatchPad - This is a Linux/X11 wrist watch developed at IBM Research. It runs Linux 2.2 with X11 R6 from its 8 MB ROM and 8 MB RAM, has a touch display and IR and RF connectivity.
Seiko Wired full dot matrix Seiko Wired full dot matrix - Apparently worn in the movie "Paycheck", and terribly rare, this is what I'm talking about when I say typeface. This is the only photo I could find.
Arnette Arnette - Arnette, unknown type. Able to spell out the time in words as "TWO TWENTY FIVE" for instance, or in blocky digits, as pictured.
Diesel DZ7044 Diesel DZ7044 - Robust, heavy stuff. The display uses inversion to display the date, which I find hard to read because of the absence of an outline.
Pulsar PBL047 Pulsar PBL047 - Round dial, 4 line dot matrix. Seems to suffer from bad legility and a few other quirks.
Pulsar PQ2001 Pulsar PQ2001 - The Pulsar also comes in a slightly different version, the PQ2001.
Casio Baby-G BG-2000 Casio Baby-G BG-2000 - Functional, zoomable dot matrix display.
ODM Mr. Metallic ODM Mr. Metallic - What's in a name. Minimalist, not very functional, but stylish dot matrix display. Especially the black ion plated steel one. Pricey though.
Connect dot matrix Connect dot matrix - Pretty large and hard to read like the LED cuff, but nice.
Puma World cup Puma World cup - Gimmicky soccer style and overpriced, but cool display.
Fossil BG1005 Fossil BG1005 - This is one from the "Big tick" series I believe. 11 display modes to chose from. Rather clunky design though.
Nike Torque Ti Nike Torque Ti - Apart from the usual sports gear, Nike also make some pretty decent watches. The Torque series of watches are all styled alike, but made of different materials. The most desirable being of course this titanium (with polycarbonate) one.
Nike Mettle Ratchet Nike Mettle Ratchet - Robust and heavy. The Ratchet is made of titanium as well.
Nike Mettle Sledge Nike Mettle Sledge - The Ratchet, Sledge and Hammer are differently styled, but essentially the same.
Fossil PH1064 by Philippe Starck Fossil PH1064 by Philippe Starck - This is style squared. Awesome! The buttons are on the sides of the strap.
Fossil PH1085 by Philippe Starck Fossil PH1085 by Philippe Starck - Another awesome timepiece by Starck! A round bar graph with hour digits. There's actually a hole in it!
Frank Gehry Frank Gehry - Frank Gehry's handwritten LCD watch. Made by Fossil.
Seiko Wired Pike Seiko Wired Pike - Another one of those handwriting type watches.
Nixon The Connect Nixon The Connect - Very shapely typeface on this world time watch.
Seiko Wired Arcism Seiko Wired Arcism - Like the Nixon Connect, a very shapely typeface.
Seiko Wired Alba Seiko Wired Alba - Almost identical to the Arcism, but more slender, probably intended for a female wrist.
Nixon The Primer Nixon The Primer - Lots of blackness, lots of pixels, lots of square typeface.
Danish Design IQ13Q641 Danish Design IQ13Q641 - I'm willing to make an exception for blocky 7 segment displays. This design is begging for it.
"Dot matrix" cuff LED watch "Dot matrix" cuff LED watch - One of the sleekest LED watches, probably designed by, or at least inpired by Starck.
Rosato Matrix Rosato Matrix - Minimalist bar graph style.
Philip Persio solar Philip Persio solar - Surprisingly cheap solar dot matrix watch. Dollar bin stuff, but fun.
Tokyoflash Zero-G Tokyoflash Zero-G - Minimalist, with bar graph hands. Quite innovative!
Balykin Sand+time Balykin Sand+time - Seems to be just a concept, and not anything you'd actually wear because of sheer size, but a very inspired idea nontheless.
G-Force Matrix G-Force Matrix - Executive style sleek watch. Not clear if this is actually a dot matrix watch. It looks like it, but those might just be dotted segments. It's not water tight, either.
Polar F6 Polar F6 - Heart rate monitor sports watch. Overfeatured, unless you're a sports person.
Suunto T1 Suunto T1 - Complicated and overfeatured, but beautiful.
Citizen i:VIRT Citizen i:VIRT - Japanese release only. What a shame. But smart watches like these don't seem to catch on when people's cell phones can do the same, and more.
Swatch Paparazzi Swatch Paparazzi - US service only. Like the Citizen above, smart watches aren't popular. Can be had for under $50.

There's so much stuff out there, it'd be impossible to show everything that catches my eye. But then again, I have some simple rules for what a watch should be like, and it's a simple fact that many watch designers let go of usability in exchange for style. Then again, some just ooze with style, so much so that it makes up for the loss of function. Generally, I don't like LED watches, they require two hands (your own) to tell time, and most of them just hurt my eyes anyway. I also steer clear of the lets-see-how-much-we-can-cram-onto-the-dial type watches. Less is usually more. Now about those rules of mine: since we're talking about digital wrist watches, whose primary function is to tell time, the time should be as legible as possible, meaning there are at least 4 numeric digits for the time display and all are on the same line.

Comments

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