Antiquorum, New York, December 15 2015
Sold for: $700
It says something for the future collectability of early quartz watches that this Pulsar – plus another example in the form of the later calculator watch – should be among the lots in a major Antiquorum auction.
While it might not be of particular appeal to most QP readers, the Pulsar is significant in the history of horology for being the world’s first wristwatch to feature an LED digital display having appeared on the market in 1972, two years after Hamilton – then owner of the Pulsar brand – first announced its intention to make it.
Those who were around at the time will remember the excitement which surrounded the great new technology of electronic digital watches, and how the hype was fuelled by the fact that they were so remarkably expensive – at $2,000, for example (the equivalent of more than $12,000 today) the first gold plated Pulsars cost considerably more than many a high quality mechanical watch but offered none of the heritage or, it turned out, dependability.
The LED display, which remained in battery-preserving “sleep” mode until a button was pressed, proved virtually impossible to read in even moderately bright sunlight, and if the merest hint of moisture entered the case the wearer could look forward to a random display of hieroglyphics that marked the demise of his or her cutting-edge timepiece.
The Pulsar offered at Antiquorum, however, appeared to be in mint condition and was even offered with its original box, swing tag attesting to the fact that it was “14 karat gold filled” and an extra “timeset bar” – the small tool that was required to advance the display by prodding a recessed button.
In summary: Retro appeal in spades clearly wasn’t enough to ignite collector interest. But if the Pulsar wasn’t the future then perhaps $700 will turn out to be a bargain in decades to come.