LED Watches

Vintage LED watch

It was the ultimate in cool. James Bond even wore one. It was the light-up LED watch.

Introduced in 1970, it was a very expensive toy for the wealthy. But by 1972, they had gotten affordable and were starting to be popular. I got mine a couple of years later.

Dad used to get Coordinated Universal Time on his shortwave radio to set his watch (at the tone, it will be . . .). I had a wind-up Timex, and it used to lose or gain a couple of minutes a day. Hey, if you had a watch, you had to keep adjusting it. That’s how it was.

But LED watches got us used to knowing EXACTLY what time it was.

One of my favorite tricks was to count down the bell in class. “5, 4, 3, 2, 1!” followed by the bell ringing on cue. Great stuff for a class clown.

The watches were accurate to within a minute or so a year. That was also the most ridiculous advertising claim ever, because you were replacing the battery at intervals that might possibly stretch into three months. Of course, when the watch was new, as you obsessively checked the time, a battery would give out after a month or so.

LED watches were a common sight until 1979. Then, they disappeared almost overnight. That year, the much more efficient LCD came on the market, and you could get a year or more out of the battery (if you didn’t use your light too much to check the time in the dark).

The watches, which cost hundreds of dollars in 1970, were given away in cereal boxes by the end of the decade.

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