Digital delights

There’s something about early digital watches that really attracts me, mostly because they can look so interesting.  Often full of complications and with amazing dial designs, which for me is possibly the most important aspect of these creations.  How to display the most relevant information or data to the user, without causing confusion – and still make the function of it, or the “user interface” as they say today, both easy to read, understand and also intuitive to use.

Not an easy task.

Here are a few that for me manage that task pretty well.

Early Citizen D060 Winsurfer, Timex (later) T49976 Expedition, Early Citizen D100 Promaster Windsurfer

And yes they are all quartz, battery powered and every so often you have to change the battery – it can be daunting, though once you get the hang of the user logic, these ones are actually easy to manage.  Sometimes there are printed highlight notes on the module reminding you to short out this or that, or push all buttons prior to setting up and so on, though that’s basically to clear memory ans rarely affects the basic time function.
Any time a battery needs changing – it’s – clear the desk workspace – take care and concentrate.  But seeing the display come to life again and then scrolling through the various functions and reminding yourself just what these modules can do, is always a pleasure.

Casio 931 – BGP-20 Multi-Planner,
Casio 928 DW-7200 Pentagraph Referee Timer

Casio vintage Alarm Chrono, had tough times but still good!

With a reasonable collection of digitals from the late 1970’s onwards, you can see the dial contrast improvements and the creation of more intuitive commands, to manage this or that function, though I’m still bowled over by some of the early ones and realize just how good they are.

I’m not going to go through the functions and so on, but rather just show here a small photo gallery of some of the ones I’ve collected over the years.  The dials say it all really and there are many more, many covering all sorts of sports and pastimes, but increasingly difficult to find these in really good condition.  They are not expensive and as a result tend to get worn “hard”, often not surviving.  Often as not, if the module goes, so does the watch – into the trash, which is a pity as they are a testament to the ingenuity of the first Quartz sports watch pioneers.

Many are Japan made and although there are many, many lookalike digitals around from China, none of them have the pedigree of these or indeed the quality of the Japanese modules and displays, which in their day, were truly science fiction, and particularly in the actual design.

Rare watches today as they represent a time of change and great innovation and ridiculously accurate for their time too, which is a real bonus.  Usually wherever I go when wearing one of these, people comment and mostly they are rather impressed.  Not bad after some 40+ years of plastic/resin molding, early display technology and large battery styles – I take my hat off to them – great!

Note – I have probably featured these somewhere in the web site at some time as a Post. For more information, just use search.

Categories: Spotlight, vintage

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4 replies

  1. Hi
    Great post! I’ve also owned a couple of Citizen D060 ‘Windsurfing’ watches in the past. I also love their complications and dial designs.
    I have a ‘Monditime’ watch that shares the same electroluminescence display and looks like a D060 on steroids!! It has an array of complications, bi directional rotating bezel and stainless steel case (Which makes it a cut above the average timepieces they produced during this period)
    I don’t have a clue what any of the displays mean (except the stop watch!) – they could possibly relate to a decent chronometer or even a slide rule??
    Please could I send you some pictures of the watch and perhaps you might know what the displays/bezel refers to? I would also be keen on knowing the price? (I don’t know if this is also in your area of knowledge but any help would be greatly appreciated!
    My email is
    Many thanks!

    • Hi and thanks for your comment.
      Haven’t heard the Monditime name for a long time, though as I recall back in the day, they had a few calculator models that struggled against Casio and Citizen at the time. I can remember only one model that was round cased and featured 2 x internal logarithmic scales, the outer one rotated to allow calculations such as % or conversions such as Miles to kilometers, distance & speed and possibly temperature too. The central coloured displays I think were seconds timers of different duration and probably a stopwatch function. It also had a basic digital display for time and so on.
      Unfortunately prices for these are tricky to estimate and depends on condition and Brand. Displays fade and modules die! But we’re talking low value generally – perhaps £30 to £60, though can also depend on rarity or ‘milestone’ fame and possibly on specialist collector value.
      You are very welcome to send some images to
      Best regards
      Jon B

  2. I have learnt so much from your messages! I know a bit about mechanical watches but very little about LCD/LED watches/modules. My favourite book that sparked a deeper interest in collecting watches was “WATCH. History of the modern wrist watch” by Pieter Doensen. It provides information regarding LED/LCD and quartz watches in general. I was surprised that he never included the Citizen windsurfing watch with its stylish electroluminescence display or Seiko’s Giugiaro Design ‘Aliens’ watches come to that.. (simply for aesthetic reasons rather than function). I suppose he couldn’t include everything! Thanks again!!

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