Just a Minute: The 1st Digital Electronic Wristwatch

Just a Minute Series

Just a Minute is a Watch Gang series that dives deep into interesting watch-related subjects, all in just a minute.

In 1966, Stanley Kubrick tasked the Hamilton Watch Company with a daunting task: to go where no watchmaker has gone before.

The exacting, visionary director was notoriously demanding in his artistic approach, so the stakes were high when John Bergey, the head of Hamilton’s Pulsar division, was asked to make a ‘futuristic looking watch” for Kubrick’s upcoming 1968 film, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Bergey’s efforts resulted in a rectangular watch called the X-01 that would go on to become a prototype for the modern digital electronic wristwatch. Its futuristic aesthetic is immediately arresting, featuring titanium casting, four quartz movements, and three small registers displaying Home Time, Dream Time, and Greenwich Mean Time.

For the film’s purpose, however, the X-01 was non-functional and only served as another fine world-building detail. It was in 1970 when Bergey and Pulsar began working on making a digital electronic piece a reality. By 1972, the first digital electronic watch hit the market, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Decades later, the Hamilton Space Odyssey X-01 would get a proper release as a real, functioning watch, bringing everything full circle in a way that would make the Star Child proud.

Stay tuned for more episodes of Just a Minute coming soon!

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