Hamilton is bringing back the original digital watch with the PSR, a tribute to the 50th anniversary of the legendary Pulsar Time Computer, the first commercially sold digital watch, which was released to great popularity in 1972. (The watch was first announced in 1970, therefore, this year’s anniversary launch).
By displaying time not through a mechanical mechanism, but rather an LED display that lit up when a side button was pressed, the original Pulsar (and its space-age stainless steel design) was once seen as the future from the world of technology. James Bond (played by Roger Moore) even sported one on Live and Let Die.
However, as Hodinkee’s deep history of the rise and fall of digital LED watches explains, the rise of Pulsar watches (and the inevitable imitators) had a relatively short life. Cheaper, less energy-consuming LCD watches would soon follow, with the added benefit of being able to display time all the time, rather than just when a button was pressed. The reason the new watch is sold under the Hamilton brand, rather than the original Pulsar, is that the company no longer has the rights: it sold the name in 1977 (rival watchmaker Seiko now owns the brand).
The new PSR seeks to improve the original Pulsar in several ways. To help make the watch a bit more useful, the display is now a hybrid LCD and OLED panel that constantly displays the time using the dimmer LCD part and only illuminates the brighter OLED component when the button. There is also a sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating and a 100-meter water resistance rating that were absent in the original model.
However, the Hamilton PSR doesn’t come cheap, especially compared to a standard digital watch – it will cost $ 750 for a stainless steel model or $ 995 for limited-edition 1970s pieces in PVD gold. Comparatively, the original Pulsar sold for $ 2,100 in a solid gold case, making the $ 750 price a (relative) bargain. However, you would have to note that Pulsar also sold cheaper steel box models for $ 275 later, making the price here feel a little high.
All in all, the Hamilton PSR is a neat tribute to an iconic wristwatch and a great example of how far display technology has come in such a short time. It will be available later in May.