I Keep Getting Asked Who Invented the Digital Watch?.... Hmm!
Ever wondered who made the digital watch? Before smartwatches became a thing, it was just digital watches that people wore to work or to school. The digital watch is such a common thing nowadays that people no longer ask where it came from. To pay homage to the one who invented this great timepiece, here’s a short history of the digital watch.
A Brief History of the Digital Watch
The first digital wristwatch that ever appeared in public was way back in the 1920s. Although it’s not the same with the digital watches you have now that have one digit per place value, the digital wristwatch back then used wheels with numbers on them. Think about a rotary phone that has numbers in a wheel and place it on a wristwatch. Since there were no batteries back then, people had to wind the watch to show the right time.
Fast forward to the 1970s, and we see the birth of the Hamilton Pulsar P1 Limited Edition digital wristwatch. This was invented by George W. Theiss and has been known to be the inventor of the first commercial digital watch. The Pulsar P1 had an LCD screen showing the time. It used to have a ruby red background. This watch costs $2,100 back then, which is so different from the price of watches you have now. It was only in 1977 that watches started to cost around $20.
In the late ‘70s, Texas Instruments (TI) changed the way watches were made and sold because of their less than $20 watches. Their Star Wars watch was just $16.95! However, this success was short-lived because even the low-profit margins hurt TI. In the end, the company had to leave the watch industry.
During the 1980s, prices of watches continued to go lower as parts became a lot cheaper. Even the cases were made from plastic, making the overall cost and price a lot lower. So, in order to justify the price companies placed on the watches, they put all sorts of things - games, calculators, databases, and even a TV! You’d be surprised at how Casio and Seiko became too creative during this era.
In 2002, more digital tech shook the watch industry with Casio’s wrist camera. This camera had a built-in camera that can take 120x120 pixel photos that were in grayscale. Sure, they reduced the quality of the photos, but it wasn’t usual for a watch to have a working camera, so this made a lot of people curious.
Eight years after, Seiko manufactured the E-Ink Watch that showed higher-quality screens and colours for the numbers and displays found on the watch. This in itself was groundbreaking, making digital watches even more coveted by the average person.
And not long ago from the present time was the release of the Apple Watch. You’re probably familiar with how the Apple Watch Series 1 looks (it’s not that different from the models now), but it does have fewer features. The Apple Watch back then was the very first smartwatch with an OLED screen and iPhone connectivity. You could read messages, know your health statistics, and even get relevant information that you have from your phone. And the rest is history.
It’s been quite the journey for digital watches, and even today it keeps getting better and more tech-savvy.
How Does a Digital Watch Work?
You’ve been reading a lot about the digital watch above, but do you know how it works? How is it different from the analogue watch?
In a nutshell, the main difference of an analogue watch between a digital watch is the display that you see on the screen. The former has the hands of the clock telling time by point to a number, while the latter gives digits in time format.
A digital watch works by having tiny quartz crystals in the mechanism. These quartz crystals vibrate at a steady rate whenever an electric current coming from the battery is applied to it. The vibrations then are received by the silicon chip in the watch. These picked up vibrations will be converted to pulses, which, in turn, determine the number that will be seen on the LCD. So if your digital watch isn’t working, it’s probably because there isn’t any electric current in the battery anymore.
Which is Better - an Analog Watch or a Digital Watch?
While the debate between the analogue and digital watch will never end, it’s important to know why you would want to buy one over the other. Here’s when you should buy an analogue watch or a digital watch.
For analogue watches, parents would always argue that it helps children learn how to read time naturally. Since the numbers are not straightforward in an analogue watch, children become more practised in telling time. Another reason why people would like an analogue watch is that it looks more elegant. The most expensive watches in the world are analogue watches and they are really famed for the design and the make.
To add to that, analogue watches are very durable. Since they don’t need a lot of power and complexity around the mechanism, they can withstand even a few years. Besides, they can be your constant companion anytime, anywhere.
On the other hand, digital watches are better for those who want to know the time without even thinking about it. You would even know the exact time down to the second if your watch allows it. Smartwatches today are almost always digital watches that can offer more capabilities. They’re more flexible, and they are a lot more affordable.
You would want a digital watch other than the reasons above is if you want to make use of all the other features that come with it. If you’re an athlete or a doctor, a digital watch would be more helpful to your field.
Overall, when it comes to deciding which is better, it all comes down to your needs and preferences. Both are good and have high quality, and it’s really up to you which one to get.