This web site is dedicated to that short period between 1957 and the mid 1970s when Electric Watches reigned! By “electric”, I mean they have a battery, either a balance wheel or a tuning fork and either electrical contacts or a transistor. This was a very short-lived transitional phase: transistors were just becoming available and mass-produced quartz watches had not yet appeared. So there are no mechanical watches (manuals or automatics) on the site but I have included one or two very early quartz watches.
Electric Watches really have died out. Quartz is king in the 21st century, but conventional spring-driven manual and automatic mechanical watches are enjoying a revival both at the top end of the market as well as at the bottom. Not so with the electrics; the last one was probably made in the mid 1970s.
In strict terms, Electric Watches are those without any electronic components i.e. no resistors, diodes or transistors; just a coil, contact and battery such as the Hamilton 500 and 505. But this site also includes the early “electronic” watches. Some key milestones:
- Hamilton : world’s first electric watch
- LIP : world’s first watch to employ an electronic component (a diode to reduce sparking on the contacts)
- Bulova Accutron : world’s first watch to employ a transistor
- ESA Dynotron : world’s first watch to employ a balance wheel and a transistor
Virtually all the photographs of movements and watches on this site are photographs of my actual watches! Please do not copy these photographs without my permission. Various other photographs and scans are shown with full permission of the owner and this is usually acknowledged on the page but also on the Acknowledgements page — please don’t copy these.
There are three main sections, all reached via the menu at the top of this page:
- “Makers” shows you the watch makers / assemblers and their watches that use electric/electronic movements; this section also covers those movement makers whose name never, or very rarely, appeared on a dial e.g. ESA, Landeron.
- “Movement Gallery” helps you identify the electric or electronic movement in your watch and also gives battery, year and movement type information.
- “Movement Types” goes into more detail about how each of the various type of movement works and shows examples of each type of movement.
I’m always on the look out for interesting early Electric Watches, so if you have one or more for sale, I may well be interested, so please get in touch via the Contact page!