The first LED (light-emitting-diode) digital wristwatches appeared around 1972, when an inventor named Roger W. Riehl produced an all-electric watch with no moving parts. Called the Synchronar, the watch featured red LEDs and utilized solar panels to power the timepiece’s NiCad battery. The first Synchronars cost $1,700, but by the end of the decade the price had dropped to about $130.

Around the same time, Hamilton Watch Company launched the "Pulsar-P1." These 18k gold units had an original price tag of $2,100—for some collectors they remain the Holy Grail of vintage LED wristwatches since only the 30 or so examples are known to exist. More widely available are the Pulsar P2s, famously worn by Roger Moore in the 1973 James Bond movie, “Live and Let Die.”

Other vintage LED wristwatches favored by collectors are calculator watches. These include the 1977 Pulsar 3822 and the 1977 Hewlett-Packard HP-01. Models with green displays are also rare.

Even though they were considered state of the art at the time, LED wristwatches had their drawbacks—they drew a lot of power, which caused some manufactures to make models that forced the wearer to hold a button down in order to see the time. For this reason and others, LEDs were largely replaced by more efficient, always-on LCD (liquid-crystal-diode) displays in the mid-1970s—Texas Instruments mass-produced one model for only $20.

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Nerd Watch Museum

Nerd Watch Museum

This gallery of hundreds of LCD and calculator watches from the 1980s includes nerd-friendly brands like Casio, Sei… [read review or visit site]

National Watch and Clock Museum

National Watch and Clock Museum

This virtual museum, created by the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, lets you stroll through tim… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Vintage Heuer Led /lcd Chronograph Watch Box Papers Rare Nr Stock Car TimerVintage Rare Black Tone Dugena-lip Led Mens Watch.Nixon Watch The Baja All Black Flashlight Led A489 001 With BoxVintage Pulsar Red Led 14k G. Filled Digital Watch With Original Box As IsFor Parts/repair: Omega Time Computer/digital Led Gold Plated 196.0039 WatchNew In Box Diesel Dz4243 Men's Sba Blackout Red Led Chronograph Watch Vintage Pulsar 10k Gold Filled Led Digital Running Watch Large Vintage Red Led Digital WatchLot Of (9) Vintage Men's/women's Pulsar Led Watches And Band Parts (not Running)Vintage Men's 1974 Pulsar Led Digital Watch P4 Executive *may Or May Not WorkVintage Mens Longines Gemini Ii Lcd/led Wrist Watch W/ BoxVintage Men's Hamilton Led Watch Mens Vintage Mido Swissonic Wrist Watch W/led Display *as Is Not TestedSawback Angel Shark Led Digital Yellow Date Alarm Leather Quartz Men Sport WatchNew In Box Diesel Dz4245 Men's Sba Led Chronograph Watch Uranus Led Watch - Complete Boxed Set! Works! Pulsar Seiko Mens 1970s VintageVintage Hamilton "qed" Led Ss Watch With BoxRagen Synchronar 'working" Mk 1vintage Solar Digital Led Watch 24hr VersionPulsar P3 1970's Vintage Red Led Time Computer Watch Works 100% W/ Box + MagnetVintage Unique Rare Sinclair Red Led Men's Watch Made In England CollectionKisai Watch Wood With Blue Led Touchscreen By Tokyoflash Nib!Vintage Red Led Mintron Men's WatchVintage Rare!!! Texas Instruments Red Led Men's Watch Model 104 Works!Pulsar Led, Omega Led, Hamilton Led Watches Case ToolVintage Zodiac Gold Tone Led Digital Running Watch Very Rare Hp-01 Led Calculator Men's Watch Usa MadeLg 39" 1080p Hdtv Led Phone Watch Sports Fitness Dvd Kids Game Pixel DigitalHamilton Led 14k Gold Electroplated Bezel, Vintage Men's Watch1976 Bulova Computron Watch Mens 70s Retro Bulova Red Led Watch 01 The One: Round Slim - Cool Blue Led Watch (slr102b3)Vintage Compuchron Led Pocket Watch/chain/made In British Hong KongWeide Dual Display Alarm Mens Quartz Blue Dial Stainless Steel Led Wrist WatchModulus Drivers Led Mens Watch. Circa 1976Solsuno: Silver Sunray Dial - Rare 21st Century Led Watch (nil4733_1) New Pyle Phrm38pn Led Heart Rate Monitor Sports Watch W/ Calorie Counter Pink01 The One: Lightmare / Ipb Ss - Cool Led Watch - Mid Size (ll202r2)01 The One: Lightmare - Cool & Unique Led Watch (l102r3or)Infantry Mens Army Led Digital Quartz Sport Wrist Watch Black Stainless SteelWaterproof Tvg Blue Led Watch Black Silicone Diving Mens Womens Gift Box L886101 The One: Square Slim - Cool Binary Led Watch (sls102b3)James Bond Hamilton Pulsar Red Led Golden Plated Vintage Watch Case Lot 1 01 The One: Kerala Trance - Cool Led Binary Watch - Mid Size (ktl102b2)Lws: Matrix - Retro Style Led Watch (blue) W/ Free Leather Strap - Rare!Hot Ohsen Mens Boys Quartz Sports Watches Led Analog Digital Display Orange01 The One: Ibiza Ride Iii, Horizontal - Cool Led Fashion Watch (irh202rb1)Vintage Compuchron Vintage Led Watch Case & Outer Box & Manual - Case & Box OnlyBlack Dice: Gamer - Cool Retro Style Digital Led Watch (bd05604)The One 01 Gamma Ray Men's Led Square Leather WatchMatrix Cuff - Cool Digital Led Watch - Brown Leather / Orange Led'sVintage Sei Ko Alba Spoon Mens Watch Titanium Red Led Spoon Nice Vintage Men's Bulova N6 Led Watch Wristwatch In Working Order / Circa1970's Used Swatch Led Quartz Watch - DarkBlack Dice: Duo Project - Cool Uk, Dual-timezone, Fashion Led Watch (bd04904) Weide Wh2308 Luxury Mens Boys Sport Led Watch Back Light Display White LettersOhsen Waterproof Black Quartz Wrist Watch Color Led Light Sports Mens A Oh0101 The One: Gamma Ray - Round - Cool Fashion Led Watch (grr1003r3)Weide Led Display Alarm Men's Quartz Battery Navy Blue Dial Silver Wrist WatchMens/boys Weide New Analog Digital Date Dual Time Led Quartz Sport Wrist WatchRare Vintage Mens Led 1970s Gold Plated Gruen Wrist Watch, New Battery! Ohsen Led Cool Black Digital Date Alarm Mens Rubber Strap Sport Wrist Watches