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5 Watches Better Than the iWatch

Many tech-savvy millennials weren’t even born for the debuts of these ultra high tech watches of the 1980s. Though these 5 watches don’t sync with your emails or texts, nor send emojis, they were before their time, a little less expensive, and maybe just a little cooler — even to this day.

Swatch ad from 1980s

Swatch ad from 1980s

Swatch (Switzerland)

Swatch was marketed to capture the entry level market for consumers who wanted Swiss technology at everyday cost – Rolex tech with the 80s flair with color and outrageous designs. With the continuing growth of Japanese companies such as Seiko and Citizen in the 1960s and 1970s, Swatch hoped to bring Swiss accuracy back to the minds of the everyday person. To re-popularize analog watches at a time when digital watches had achieved wide popularity, Swatch was advertised as a niche “hip” alternative to digital. In order to keep costs low, the Swiss watchmaker used synthetic materials as well as a new ultrasonic welding process and assembly technology. The number of components was reduced with no loss of accuracy.

Nelsonic Pac Man (U.S.) 

Nelsonic Pacman Watch

Nelsonic Pacman Watch

Nelsonic Industries is an electronics manufacturing and development company from the early 1980s and throughout the 1990s. Nelsonic produced many toy-themed wrist-watches targeting younger audiences with likenesses of popular cartoon and movie characters like Barbie, the Ghostbusters, and Mario. Nelsonic became notable during the early mid-1980s for being the first electronics company in the United States to produce multi-purpose electronic game devices and time-piece hybrid.

The most popular of the Nelsonic line was the Pac-Man watch. The original Nelsonic Game Watch line has become highly sought-after collectibles that can reap high prices on online auction websites.

Timex (U.S.)

Timex introduced the Indiglo technology in 1992 in their Ironman watch line and subsequently expanded its use to 70% of their watch line.

Indiglo devices emit a distinct blue or white color, though contemporary variations may emit different colors. Certain Indiglo models employ a form of the technology that only lights the watch dial’s numbers, rather than the entire dial.

Casio Databank Calculator (Japan)

The Databank series of watches are most like today’s smartwatches in that the timepiece allows for data storage such as telephone numbers and email addresses, and usually a calculator. What is extraordinary about the Databank watch compared to today’s iWatch? The Databank launched in the early 80s.

Today, there are at least two Databank watches that also include a TV/VC remote control feature. The newest model has caught up with the times (a little) and include telememo, E-data memo, alarm, and a timer.

Casio Transmitter watch (Japan) 

Casio TM100

Casio TM100

On the surface, Casio’s TM-100 appears to be a normal watch but hidden inside this Casio is the circuitry to transmit audio signals, which sounded like science fiction when it hit the market in 1980s. With a flip of the lever and the rise of the telescopic antenna, a sophisticated speak and music microphone gadget could broadcast the audio to nearby radios – an extremely developed tech for that time period.  Additionally, a tiny tuning knob could calibrate the frequency on the FM band.

All the watches featured can be purchased through eBay or Amazon and some hipster places like American Apparel (which is sacrilege). The Casio Transmitter watch may be harder to find, because it is shrouded in mystery and very rare unlike your modern day iWatch.

Casio TM100 Photo Credit

Nelsonic Pacman Photo Credit

Swatch Ad Photo Credit