When digital watches first burst onto the scene in the 1970’s, it was cool to wear them. You looked like you were hip to technology at a time when technology didn’t pervade everything. But then technology started to take hold, and those digital watches started to look cheap and tacky. We started carrying around phones in our pocket that displayed the time, so we didn’t need to wear a watch. Wearing a watch in the age of smartphones is arguably ornamental, so everyone started embracing traditional watches. For awhile, our watch was one of the only things we looked at that didn’t have a digital screen staring back at us.
But things have changed—with the introduction of smartwatches, digital watches look charmingly old school. Wearing a retro watch that does nothing but display the time and date is refreshing, which is why we fully endorse investing in one. Here are 12 of our favorites.
Casio Classic Digital Watch
Headquartered in Tokyo and established in the 1940s, Casio is an electronics brand that has a ton of diverse offerings from calculators to watches (you probably had one of their keyboards when you were a kid). In the 1980s, they released their first digital watch, and this one feels decidedly retro, like the kind of watch the jerk in an 80s movie would wear. You don’t have to be a jerk, to wear it, though—with its gold-toned stainless steel and backlit digital display that includes the date, time, and alarm and stopwatch features, you can pull it off, whatever your temperament is.
Casio Rose Gold Watch
Another solid offering from Casio, this stainless steel rose gold watch is a little bit more refined than the one above, featuring a slimmer band. It still has the bells and whistles of the regular Casio, though, which means it has backlight, alarm, and stopwatch features, and is water-resistant (your Apple Watch can’t say that, can it?).
NOOKA K Digital Display Watch
If you want to don a conversation piece, pick up this ultra-light watch from NYC-based NOOKA. Its name (“K”) comes from the Japanese word “kei,” which means “light”—and at 1.5 ounces, they’re not kidding. But the watch’s lighter-than-air qualities aren’t what’s going to spark up a discussion, its unique face that uses bars to display the time rather than hands will.
Nixon Time Teller Digi Watch
Since the late 1990s, California-based Nixon has become a brand known for creating quality, slightly off-kilter watches and accessories. The Time Teller Watch is made out of rugged silicone and available in a variety of colors. The watch’s digital display is also fully customizable, so you can decide whether you want just want to see hours, minutes, seconds or add in the date.
Nixon Unit 40 Watch
Another offering from Nixon, the all-black Unit 40 Watch offers a unique modular face, giving each digital number it’s own slot, which is a good thing, because there’s a lot of numbers on this sucker, including time, date, and temperature (yep, it has a built-in thermometer).
Braun Black Digital Watch
The Swiss always get credit for making the best watches, but you can’t downplay classic German craftsmanship, which is featured in all of the watches Braun creates. With this sleek, futuristic black digital watch, Braun gives you the look of a smartwatch without all of the apps (which is a good thing in this case). The crystal face displays all you need to know—what time it is—and the genuine leather strap means business.
VOID PXR5 Watch
Established in 2008 by a Swedish designer living in Hong Kong, in just a few short years, VOID has established itself as a brand that makes incredibly unique watches that are sure to grab everyone’s attention. The PXR5 borrows from military-style field watches, but still manages to look elegant. The stainless steel case bolsters a black digital display face and the rugged nylon strap adds a casual vibe. Let us introduce you to your new favorite weekend watch.
Ziiiro Eclipse Watch
If Ziiiro’s watches look a bit out-of-this-world to you, that was the intention. The relatively new brand has roots in Germany and China, but their designs look like they came from Mars. Cranking out watches with names like Gravity, Mercury, and this one—dubbed “Eclipse”—they’ve ensured that when you’re wearing one of their watches, you’ll look otherworldly. The Eclipse is particularly unique, with an all-black face that features a simple blue, luminescent circle around the perimeter where the watch’s minute and hour “hands” (they’re more like little notches, though) circle around, in the same way the Earth rotates.
Braun Classic Watch
Another offering from Braun, the brand’s classic watch melds an elegant stainless steel mesh watchband with a simple all-black face that boasts an easy-to-read digital display. The watch is also water-resistant up to 165 feet, so you can go from the boardroom to the surfboard in a flash.
VOID V01 Watch
VOID has a lot of interesting watches on offer, but the V01 style is arguably their most popular. Looking like something out of The Jetsons, this unique watch features a sand-blasted stainless steel case, a genuine brown leather band, and a minimalist digital display. You can dress it up with a suit just as easily as you can dress it down with jeans and a t-shirt.
Braun Prestige Digital Watch
You’ll never ask co-workers (or random strangers) what the date is once you snatch up this Braun Prestige watch, which features a 100 year perpetual calendar front-and-center on the watch face’s digital display. Add in a brushed stainless steel band and case, a unique rectangular face, it’ll make an elegant statement piece to add to your daily wardrobe rotation.
Suunto Core Brushed Steel Watch
Finland-based Suunto started producing gadgets in the 1930s, the first among them being compasses that were used by civilians and the military alike. Today, the brand’s commitment to technology still stands, and the Core watch will do a lot more than just tell you what time it is. The watch has a dizzying amount of technology built into a sleek display, including an altimeter, barometer, compass, thermometer, storm alarm, depth meter for snorkeling, and more. Will you ever use these functions in your daily life? That’s entirely up to you.
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