WatchUSeek Watch Forums banner

1 - 9 of 9 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
617 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
...And this is what I got. I hope to come out alive.




I just caught an old, knackered and untested Sinclair Black Watch. A legend of unrealibility yet an icon of digital timekeeping.

The Black Watch was the first and only LED wristwatch made by Sinclair Radionics back in 1975. Many things made this watch peculiar: it was the first digital watch ever made in the UK and the first watch that came in a kit form, to be assembled by hobbyists; it was the first electronic digital watch to be sold in high street shops rather than in jewelry stores, and it was the most "cheap" electronic digital watch available on the market back then: the kit form was available for £17.95 and the preassembled version was sold for £24.95, let's not forget that a Pulsar P3 Date Command was way more expensive than a Black Watch, and LED timepieces were still not something for everybody. Yet, the Black Watch was a little step forward.

But what made this watch famous wasn't just its "affordable" price (£24 today equals to £160, not quite "cheap" I'd say, but cheaper than the competitors anyway), but was its incredible unreliability that made the watch a legendary example of how to not make a digital watch: the case was held together by plastic clips that in the kit version easily came loose, making the case fall apart, the circuitry was extremely sensitive to static; the legend says that even a nylon shirt could irreversibly damage it, and the quartz crystal was of subpar quality and suffered a lot of temperature differences. Officially, the Black Watch was so plagued with problems that the returned specimen for repair exceeded the ones that were effectively sold, causing £355.000 of losses that led Sinclair Radionics to bankruptcy. Preassembled versions were more reliable than the kit ones, but due to the bad fame the latter acquired, the Black Watch never became a successful timepiece and despite the debut of a second generation (including a white cased version too), the leftover electronic modules were refitted into a car clock, the Microquartz in 1977.

Going back to the Black Watch I bought, the seller found two old batteries inside, which apparently haven't leaked. So, unless it's affected by the dreaded problems that made this watch a legend, it might work. Hopefully. Maybe. Who knows. Otherwise, it'll be a future candidate for a SASM module transplant. The battery cap seems to have the tip a bit bent upwards, I hope I can gently push it back in place.



Getting a working Black Watch is an authentic miracle, and due to my total lack of technical skills (including soldering) a non working speciman would keep me stumped. But I wanted to pull the trigger anyway, hoping to not regret that. Compared to the other specimen I found while searching on the internet, this is the first one that says "Patent Applied For" on the caseback. Could that make it an early model? The seller is also selling the box separately, and the fact it's a preassembled Black Watch, rather than the infamous kit version, makes me feel a bit more optimistic.






Hopefully, since it seems the old batteries haven't leaked, it might fire up with fresh ones. Now I just have to wait for its arrival and pray to the nearest icon of Sir Clive to grant me the wish to become the owner of a working Black Watch.
Getting this watch is like playing Russian Roulette, you never know if you'll come out alive or if it will kill you.

Well, I will keep my fingers crossed and I hope to be lucky... :think:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,522 Posts
Keep us posted

Matt


Brought to you by HYPNOTOAD
 
  • Like
Reactions: bobbee

·
Registered
Joined
·
617 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
For sure, I'm going to hold my breath until its arrival. Hopefully it should fire up with new batteries...
 

·
Mod. Russian, China Mech.
Joined
·
18,526 Posts
A Sinclair? You really are mad.

I'm seriously hoping this works out. That would be very cool indeed.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
617 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
A Sinclair? You really are mad.

I'm seriously hoping this works out. That would be very cool indeed.
It wasn't my fault, I swear! My hand just reacted by itself and pushed on the "bid" button against my will... :-d

The watch has been shipped yesterday, hopefully in a week should arrive. With a pair of 386 it should spring back to life. If it won't, I'll have to save money for a SASM90 module. But I'm optimistic, since I bought two untested watches that had batteries inside (which luckily didn't leak, just like the ones in this Black Watch) and they work like a charm.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
617 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
So I got the watch today, as expected, it doesn't work after trying new batteries. You can't always win, as they say! I lost the Russian Roulette.

I will put it for sale for spares, maybe it can come in handy to someone.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,740 Posts
So I got the watch today, as expected, it doesn't work after trying new batteries. You can't always win, as they say! I lost the Russian Roulette.

I will put it for sale for spares, maybe it can come in handy to someone.
Bummer!
 
1 - 9 of 9 Posts
Top