Sep 26, 2016
Seiko's TV Watch from the early 1980s
In the summer of 1982, Seiko released a wristwatch that had a miniature LCD TV screen built in. Wow! This futuristic gadget was produced in limited quantities and a few versions were made during the mid-1980s. The Guinness Book of Records named the 1984 edition as “the smallest TV set in the world”.
Technically, the wristwatch part itself was indeed small, but there was a catch. The retail packaging the watch came in had a TV receiver box, and you had to carry that thing with you to be able to receive any channels. The box was about the size of an old Walkman cassette tape player. Wait a minute… Apple? Sort of like the Watch that needs an iPhone to get internet access?
The TV Watch was so cool that even James Bond wore it in the latest movie of the time, Octopussy.
With the price of $495, the watch wasn’t meant for the average consumer. They felt it would appeal only to a limited market. In this article from 1983, The New York Times wrote:
Two New York retailers, in interviews, said they expected the watch to appeal only to a limited market. Erich Hirschfeld, president of Willoughby’s Cameras, said: ”I think it will have a market for the upper class so that the venture will be successful. But I think the price is too high and will probably come down to half within a year to two.” Robert J. Wexler, managing director of Tourneau Inc., the jewelry retailer, said: ”It will sell to the limited audience which feels it must be the first to have a novelty. The average consumer probably will have little interest in it.”