Just a Minute Part II: The 1st Digital Watch

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 Part II, we look at the arrival of the 1st digital watch.

In the previous Just a Minute installment, we took a look at the origins of the first digital electronic wristwatch. Commissioned by legendary director Stanley Kubrick, the futuristic looking X-01 emerged as the perfectly designed science-fiction prop for his masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The X-01 would eventually get a proper release decades later, but it had an immediate impact serving as the prototype for the first functional digital electronic watch released in 1972.

But before Keir Dullea and the HAL 9000 made cinema history, the first digital wristwatch made its debut all the way back in the 1920s.

Though it would take a while for electronic technology to catch up, the Cortebert Digital’s biggest strength was its ingenious design. Battery-less and hand-wound, the Cortebert relied on interlocking mechanical wheels with painted numbers (or digits) in order to digitally display the right time. 

Smart watches would burst onto the scene nearly a century later, but the technical innovation of the Cortebert still reverberates today. While this trailblazing digital timepiece may not have included GPS or the ability to order Thai food, it marked a new and exciting chapter for watch-wearers both in function and style.

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

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