With no hope of recovery, HMW pulled the plug on the trailblazing digital in July 1977 and sold the name to Rhapsody Inc., a Philadelphia watch and jewelry distributor. The most popular color? It sold the traditional watchmaking division, Hamilton Watch Co., to Switzerland’s SSIH, a precursor to what is now the Swatch Group. America was leading the global quartz watch revolution. Customs services and international tracking provided, Leave feedback about your eBay search experience - opens in new window or tab. Or the plight of Senator [Wallace] Bennett of Utah, who wanted to be the first member of the U.S. Senate with a Pulsar, and then discovered in a committee meeting that Senator Mike Mansfield already had one. When reporters told Betty Ford of her husband’s wish and its price – $3,950 – she politely poured water on the idea. During that year’s Christmas season, jewelers displayed the photo in their windows.”Â, Pulsar sales doubled in 1974 to $17 million; profits more than doubled. Digital watches did not replace watches with hands, Mickey’s or otherwise. It could afford to offer such low prices because economies of scale had dramatically lowered the cost of digital modules. They wanted Hamilton to make wristwatches and table clocks for the film, “2001: A Space Odyssey,” that would show next-century styling.Â, Hamilton agreed. The Hamilton Pulsar was a sensation and the first star of the quartz watch revolution. With the Astron, Seiko created the world's first electronic quartz watch. “He had a standing order for each new model as it was introduced.” Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie was so happy with his Pulsar that he sent a Certificate of Excellence to Hamilton. “The digital had headed down a one-way street from class to mass, from distinctive symbol of status to faceless commodity. C $260.02. Hank Edelman was a salesman for Patek Philippe in those days. New Listing Vintage Pulsar P3 LED Watch w/ Band & Magnet. If you pressed the button longer, red seconds digits replaced the hours and minutes digits on the screen and then disappeared. $63.00. New Listing (2) PULSAR LED WATCHES Vintage Gold Filled Plated Time Computer Digital Watch! Vintage Pulsar Electronics 1 First Russian USSR Digital Red LED Wrist Watch ASHvinwatch. 12 bids. Â. Calculator watches were a popular offshoot of the LED watch trend. Hamilton soon followed the original gold watch with gold-filled-case models priced at $1,275 and steel-case models at $275. He was there to show Johnny not just a new watch that Hamilton had created, but a new kind of watch.Â. 0 bids. Pulsar P1 Back in 1972, few consumer gadgets were as cool and sought after if you could afford one, as the led watch. In fact, Pulsar’s design was influenced by a clock that the company had created for the 1968 blockbuster movie “2001: A Space Odyssey.” The movie’s producer Stanley Kubrick and screenwriter Arthur Clarke had visited Hamilton in Lancaster in 1967 to request timepiece props for the movie that would scream 21st-century. Something went wrong. In May 1970, it ran full-page ads announcing the development of the watch and held a press conference at New York’s posh Four Seasons restaurant. Pre-Owned. “No horological know-how was needed for this type of product, which had no mechanically moving parts aside from pushers for setting the time.”, Almost all of the newcomers produced LEDs. By the end of 1977, Hamilton had not only stopped producing Pulsars but had sold the Pulsar name.Â. or Best Offer +C $10.00 shipping. (That year, HMW Industries, parent company of Pulsar and Hamilton, went all in on the LED. From 1972 to 1974, Trueb reports, Omega had purchased about 30,000 LED modules from Pulsar to use in Omega Time Computer watches. From Finland; Pulsar By Seiko V011-0010 ana/digi chronograph watch TITANIUM W.R.100m vintage. Other digital products and techno-toys of the '60s-'80s. From Ukraine. To Bergey’s horror, he declared, “This will never put Mickey Mouse out of business,” and tossed the gold timepiece over his shoulder. Hamilton produced their first digital electronic watch – an LED prototype, in 1970. The clock that Hamilton custom designed for the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. So revolutionary that, in its press announcement, Hamilton did not call it a watch, but a “wrist computer”: “The Pulsar is a solid state wrist computer programmed to tell time. Top Rated Seller Top Rated Seller. The most common pulsar p3 led watch material is metal. Other digital products and techno-toys of the '60s-'80s. The book lists 23 American companies that produced LED or LCD modules. Casualties started to mount. It had a number of claims to fame: *It was revolutionary in its space-age design and solid state (i.e., no moving parts) technology.Â, *It was a pioneer of a new watch category that brought scores of American electronics firms into the watch business.Â, *It was imitated by the likes of Switzerland’s Omega, which bought modules from Pulsar for its own Pulsar-like LEDs.Â, *It was hailed in American business and media circles as the leader of a trend that would make America a watchmaking power again.Â, History, however, has not been kind to Pulsar and the American electronics firms that brashly stormed into the watch industry in its wake. That year he predicted that prices would hit $20 by 1978. (Photo: Courtesy The Advertisement Gallery), “The Shah of Iran was a repeat buyer,” Sauers continues. This is the solid gold Pulsar Calculator watch that Gerald Ford wanted for Christmas 1975. {"modules":["unloadOptimization","bandwidthDetection"],"unloadOptimization":{"browsers":{"Firefox":true,"Chrome":true}},"bandwidthDetection":{"url":"https://ir.ebaystatic.com/cr/v/c1/thirtysevens.jpg","maxViews":4,"imgSize":37,"expiry":300000,"timeout":250}}, Amounts shown in italicized text are for items listed in currency other than U.S. dollars and are approximate conversions to U.S. dollars based upon Bloomberg's conversion rates. It was developed jointly by American companies Hamilton and Electro/Data Inc. “The Emperor of Abyssinia [Ethiopia], the King of Jordan, the Shah of Iran, Roger Moore, Sammy Davis, Jr. and many other celebrities placed orders right away,” he writes.Â, Hamilton presented Pulsar as the epitome of space-age cool.Â. Hamilton’s promotional literature pointed out that Pulsar made no noise. Check out our pulsar vintage watch selection for the very best in unique or custom, handmade pieces from our wrist watches shops. They were sold in blister packs in department stores, grocery stores, drugstores, and electronics shops.Â, By 1980, only one American electronics firm was still in the watch business: Texas Instruments. 6263 Sells For $5,475,000 At Phillips New York, In-Depth How Audemars Piguet Made Black Ceramic The Hottest Material In Watchmaking, The Grey NATO Episode 134: Our Favorite Watches Of 2020, In-Depth Everything You Need To Know About The Rolex Explorer Ref. Introducing Did A. Lange & Söhne Just Drop The Ultimate Tuxedo Watch? C $32.43. From shop ASHvinwatch. Pre-Owned. 4.5 out of 5 stars (23) 23 reviews $ 135.00 FREE shipping Favorite 7 bids +$8.40 shipping. Copyright © 2009–2020, HODINKEE Inc. All Rights Reserved. Instead, it had a blank, red, rectangular computer-like “time screen” (Hamilton’s term), made of synthetic ruby, set in … C $352.06; or Best Offer +C $35.21 shipping; 11 Watching. Make an offer! Texas Instruments was supplying LCD modules to Switzerland’s Ebauches SA (now called ETA). TI had major watch ambitions. Pre-Owned. Spurning the LED turned out to be a smart move. C $260.02. It had no hands or dial. He vividly remembers customers asking for LEDs and their chagrin when he told them Patek did not have any. Moreover, Pulsar’s battery-depleting, time-on-demand, light-up-display technology, known as LED (light-emitting diode), was soon replaced by a superior technology, LCD (liquid crystal display), which displayed the time constantly and is the standard for digital watches today. These are now design classics that are still copied today with new quartz jump hours , led and the famous spaceman watches carrying on the seventies retro theme . 3215-2, Red LED Display, Stainless Steel With Bracelet, Made In USA, Circa 1975 Explore France1978's photos on Flickr. In spring 1972, the first Pulsar watch was marketed by Hamilton Watch (the parent company, not the Hamilton Watch Division). Watch wise, America was back. It did not tick like mechanical and quartz analog watches. Instead, it had a blank, red, rectangular computer-like “time screen” (Hamilton’s term), made of synthetic ruby, set in a gold cushion-shaped case. “For the first time, the show was crowded with buyers from mass merchandise retailers such as Sears, Montgomery Ward and J.C. Penney,” wrote Buchanan in her Bergey profile. The Pulsar watch’s debut on the Johnny Carson show in 1972 kicked off the craze – the Pulsar P1 (shown) is generally accepted as the first electronic digital watch sold to the public. Vintage Pulsar - Hamilton - Omega - Seiko - Casio LED & LCD Watch Repair & Service Centre. For one shining moment in the 1970s, America was a watch power again. Read more about Girard Perregaux LED. (Photo: Courtesy TimeTrafficker), LCDs inherited the digital mantle, but their prices plummeted, too. “Between 1973 and 1980, the price of a complete digital module dropped from well over $300 to $3 or even less,” Trueb writes. My goal is now the creation of this Web Site; making it The Place that I want to visit while continuing my LED watch journey! Â, The clock, on the other hand, had a streamlined, ovoid- shaped case that reminded one of a UFO. We specialise in repairing and servicing old LED Electronic Watches made in the 1970's by Pulsar, Hamilton, Omega and Zenith as well as some other makes of LED watches. Mens business style wrist watch. The result was an LED boom. Editorial cartoons showed the Statue of Liberty with a Pulsar on her raised wrist. Pulsar was born to be different, has remained different and will always be different and true to its heritage of advanced watchmaking. Hamilton’s marketing of Pulsar was brilliant. As Tom Hyltin, CEO of Micro Display Systems, told me in the late 1970s, “All the clocks in schools today are digital. It could not keep up with demand. Time left 2d left. In 1978, Commodore introduced a collection of 15 LCD watches priced from $7.95 to $19.95. Pre-Owned. (The Swiss announcement came at the Basel Fair in April 1970.) From shop starrhop. Pulsar revenues soared in 1975, up 47% to $25 million on sales of 150,000 watches. The watch was inspired by a digital timepiece also created by Hamilton which featured in the 1968 blockbuster film 2001: A Space Odyssey. This is the HP-01. Johnny’s verdict turned out to be right. Vintage Ladies Pulsar Time Computer 4300 Module 101 LED Gold Filled Wrist Watch Bergey saw a parallel between pulsars, which emit radiation at extremely precise intervals, and his watch, which used bursts of energy to tell time and was extremely accurate. From United States. As vice president, he had been given one by White House counsel Philip Buchen, who also owned a Pulsar. Hamilton’s marketing subtly linked the watch with space. Buying vitage digital watches - dead or alive. Vintage Pulsar - Hamilton - Omega - Seiko - Casio LED & LCD Watch Repair & Service Centre. Hughes and many others abandoned the digital watch market in 1978. Business Week, in another cover story on watches (June 5, 1978) offered a contemporary account: “The digital watch field is littered with casualties of the LED disaster in early 1977, when buyer preferences shifted to LCDs and left manufacturers with costly inventories.”Â, No longer needing to push a button to show the time was a big deal for LED watches. Pulsar fever was on.Â. It had an elliptical console with five small screens showing light-up digits. It was unlike any watch that Carson, or anyone else, had ever seen before. Used (normal wear), Good condition. Vintage Pulsar Date-Command Digital Quartz Watch, Model 3120, 14 kt Gold-Filled Case, 10 kt Gold Bracelet, Red LED Display, Made In USA, Circa 1975 The gold-colored "Pulsar" name is missing from the lower right corner of the red display area. Management hoped an announcement about its avant-garde watch would offset the bad news. True, Seiko had won the race to introduce the world’s first electronic quartz watch; it introduced the Seiko Astron five months before Bergey bombed on The Tonight Show. C $200.00. Another 50 or more U.S. companies produced digital watches using modules purchased from others. Ironically, Pulsar got its look from the clock, not the watch. Digitals gave it a chance to challenge Timex’s position as the mass-market watch king. Pulsar was a runaway best seller. Bergey had anticipated lower LED prices. They are mainly sourced from 1970s vintage when funky styling was all the rage with fantastic and futuristic timepieces that got you noticed . Seiko was making a huge push in the United States, on its way to becoming the world’s largest watch company (that happened in 1978). It was unlike any watch that Carson, or anyone else, had ever seen before. It was, the ad said, “A completely new way to tell time, modestly priced at $2,100.” That, Trueb notes, was “$150 more than a gold Rolex.”Â, Apparently, the watch was worth the wait. “These companies had no experience in watchmaking,” Trueb notes. Ironically, it was Timex, the traditional watch producer. They were the most radical of the quartz revolutionaries. Moriya told him not to worry: the LED fever would eventually pass and department stores would want his quartz analog watches.Â, It wasn’t just mid-priced brands that were affected by the LED phenomenon. France1978 has uploaded 20641 photos to Flickr. In 1976, Pulsar sales dropped 14% to $21.6 million. Immediately afterward, Litronix, Texas Instruments and Fairchild Camera and Instrument – all manufacturers of integrated circuits – introduced their own LED watches. Â, It did. And there were rumors that one of President Nixon’s daughters had dropped into Tiffany’s and picked out a Pulsar as a Christmas gift for her father.” (The rumors were true. We specialise in repairing and servicing old LED Electronic Watches made in the 1970's by Pulsar, Hamilton, Omega and Zenith as well as some other makes of LED watches. (See sidebar.). View cart for details. Most of the displays used everywhere today are digital therefore the Pulsar LED watch can be thought of as one of the breakthroughs in the technology of the XXth century. Top Rated Seller Top Rated Seller +C $24.94 shipping. “When the LED hit the market,” Norvell said, “the distributors were begging for LEDs. Terms: Bracelet = metal band Strap = leather band *M = magnet set *A/S = auto-set Pulsar … In 1978, Rhapsody Inc. sold the rights to the Pulsar name to Seiko. Needs replacement battery. Pre-Owned. Memory Lane: American Digital Watch Producers Of The 1970s. Micostar vintage led watch, same display as in Pulsar and Omega led watches. The media blitz created big buzz about the watch. “Thunderbird Jewelers in Las Vegas telephoned Hamilton with a frantic rush order. Vintage 1970s Pulsar P4 LED Watch - Women's 14k Gold Filled w/ Box & Papers - #1. Copyright © 1995-2020 eBay Inc. All Rights Reserved. The world’s first digital watch was made in America: Pulsar should be remembered for that, if nothing else. As more and more watch companies introduced new models, prices fell below $100, stimulating even more demand.Â, Today, it is impossible to imagine the grip the LED had on the U.S. watch market at that time. After getting burned in the watch industry, the American electronics firms turned to more lucrative consumer electronics products, like computers, video games, smartphones, and, these days, watches again.Â, A final note: John Bergey remained in Lancaster after retiring from HMW. (See sidebar.) From shop PASCOPICKERS. Beneath the dial were three small circular windows with digits for GMT time, date and month. Pulsar prepared 400 watches for the launch. “The picture showed the president testifying about the Nixon pardon before the House Judiciary Committee on Criminal Justice. First, Seiko and the Swiss had already made headlines with their new electronic quartz analog watches and Hamilton wanted to signal that it was also a quartz-watch player. LCD displays, introduced in 1973, had legibility problems; they became cloudy after a few months. C $452.88. It threw in the towel in 1981, laying off the 2,800 employees in its watch division.Â. The whole effect was very space-age and was the inspiration for Pulsar.Â, As it happened, the watches are seen prominently on the wrists of the astronauts throughout what became one of the most celebrated movies of all time. In addition to the Tonight Show, Bergey and Pulsar appeared with Hugh Downs on The Today Show. It took Hamilton two years to actually bring Pulsar to market. Read more about Pulsar Executive P-5 Touch Command ... "GRAD CLASS OF 1976". Seattle Watch Buyers. Business Week captured the sentiment of the times in the headline of the cover story of its Oct. 27, 1975 edition: “Digital Watches: Bringing Watchmaking Back to America Again.”. It remains a sister brand to Seiko to this day. Asked what he wanted for Christmas, the President told White House reporters he was hoping to get the new gold Pulsar Calculator Watch as a gift. Horologically, Pulsar was more revolutionary than even the new quartz analog watches. $1,699.00. The watch was conceived and created in a joint project between Hamilton Watch Company and Electro-Data of Garland, Texas. A 1985 Harvard Business School study on the global watch market described what happened: “Consumer demand for digitals began to grow in 1974, when National Semiconductor announced that it would sell an LED watch at $125, about half the prevailing price. “Ford’s Pulsar was prominent in a photo that appeared in the Washington Post,” wrote Norma Buchanan in a 1997 profile of John Bergey in American Time magazine. See each listing for international shipping options and costs. It had introduced an $85 LCD in 1974. Pre-Owned. The TI price cuts sounded the death knell for the LED. It lost $24 million on sales of $74 million that year, due to a slow economy, a drop in its military products business, and stiff watch competition. 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