Back in the 1970s Swiss watchmakers were panicked silly by digital watches

Smartwatches seem to be the next big thing techo investors and marketers are counting on to “disrupt” the market. But unlike the late Steve Jobs’ iPod, iPhone and iPad, and even his and Woz’s Apple II and the original smiling Macintosh computer, the smartwatch was something already dreamed up by Gene Roddenberry (creator of Star Trek) and Gerry Anderson (creator of Thunderbirds are Go!) way back in the 1960s.

'Someday, all watches will be made this way' - 1970s Seiko Quartz ad

‘Someday, all watches will be made this way’ – 1970s Seiko Quartz ad

If there is a common denominator to these biggest of success stories in techo land, it is that they involve products never foreseen before. The success of the microcomputer in the 1970s, for example, is framed by what Thomas Watson Senior, Chairman of the IBM corporation, said in the 1960s: “I think there is a world market for about five computers.” And we all know now that Facebook took the world by storm when all the Wall Street analysts were singing praises to the gods of “online retailing”.

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Perhaps we haven’t learned from all those calculator watches and multi-button contraptions Casio, Seiko, and Citizen put on our wrists back in the 1970s. Even the Swiss watchmakers, panicked to a frenzy by the onslaught of “digital” back then, came up with their own me-too products. The man of the 70s back then thought having “dual time” (the other clock set to ‘Paris’) on his modern liquid crystal display quartz timepiece complemented the pack of Peter Stuyvesant cigarettes (“Your international passport to smoking pleasure”) he whips out while chatting up the stewardess pouring him a stiff drink in the smoking section of his Pan Am flight.

Fast forward to today.

Consider this latest news piece from Mashable. It makes wearing a heart rate monitor-equipped “smartwatch” sound so cool

The watch will reportedly have heart rate monitoring capabilities and a two-day battery life.

Citing “multiple sources with knowledge of the company’s plans,” Forbes reports the watch will rely on technology used by Xbox Kinect engineers to enable the watch to track its wearer’s heart rate at all times.

And here I was thinking that “millenials” are that new demographic-of-coolness marketers salivate over. I can’t really say, however, that I’ve ever come across a 20-something who’d even checked her pulse more than once every two years.

Perhaps the real market for these “wearables” is the vast army of baby boomers coming into their retirement years over the next couple decades. They are out there, wisened and aged and rarin’ to spend these millenials’ inheritances before they croak — the perfect people to be wired with body function telemetry technology that would make Formula One engineers drool!

Interesting times ahead.

2 Replies to “Back in the 1970s Swiss watchmakers were panicked silly by digital watches”

  1. Some prefer the analog watches like the :Rolex…some wants the digital ones. Technology will continue to advance, as our civilization advances.
    Maybe Health-watch are the fad now…but another time contraption will take its place soon. Fads don’t last long; people get used to it…they want a better one…

  2. I like digital watches with a good alarm system because its useful during interval trainings and telling time basically. “Rolex” type watches fake or otherwise is great for showing status so its useful of you’re into that kind of thing.

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