The 1960s were an in-between period when it came to technology. Not entirely computerized, the world hovered between mechanical and digital computers. Computers clattered commands on ancient teletypes while nixie tubes – essentially glowing wires in a vacuum – counted down the rickety spaceships that had more in common with Magellan than Musk.
The 1965 Accutron Spaceview was a product of those strange times. As one of the first “electronic” clocks, the clock vibrated with a small tuning fork at 360 Hertz to drive the hands over the face. Made in a time before quartz crystals were widely used, the watch was literally buzzing on your wrist, a mechanical / electrical hybrid of something that was a bridge between old and new.
Accutron Spaceview 2020
WHAT IS IT?
A retro-futuristic watch with a classic design and high-tech movement.
US $ 3,450 ($ 4,742)
It’s a unique, unique watch.
Editor’s Note: The Australian Price and Release Date has not yet been confirmed.
The new Accutron 2020 DNA, a watch in the style of the original Spaceview, pays homage to that time and uses its own unique technology. The face shows three electrostatic motors, or more precisely a large motor at 10 o’clock and two smaller generators at 6 o’clock. The watch “charges” itself when these two small rotors spin due to the movement of your hand and the main motor drives the hand when the larger motor rotates. These motors do not use coils, but rely on the repulsion of the magnets around the rim. You can use them either to generate electricity or to drive a mechanical system. They use much less electricity and are smaller than other motors. The smallest electrostatic motor is made up of only 18 atoms (although this set is far larger). The watch stores electricity in a tiny capacitor, not a real battery.
The face is transparent and a domed sapphire crystal shows the entire movement in all its glory, with green-colored metal replacing the silicone design of the original Accutron.
When you look at this watch you ask a simple question: what does this thing do? When charging, the second hand moves smoothly over the face and the large rotor turns wildly. In energy-saving mode, the hour and minute hands tick without a face, while the second hand stays at 12 o’clock. There is luminescent paint on the pips around the dial and on the hands for reading this thing at night.
Now for the bad news. The watch is priced at $ 3,450 ($ 4,742), a price that a collector I spoke to calls “aggressive.” There are several reasons for this price. First, this is a proprietary movement that has been handcrafted for Accutron and has never been used in this configuration. Plus, Seiko’s first quartz watches, made in the 1970s, cost as much as a Toyota Camry at the time, so you get kind of a bargain. Still, the watch is a tough sell, especially since an old-school Accutron Spaceview costs around $ 500 ($ 687) on eBay.
The watch is fun and just the right size for both men and women. If you’re a fan of outer space or that specific aesthetic – call it paleofuturistic – then you’re going to love this thing. It’s nice to know that for a period between the modern era of cell phone clocks and the earlier era of a ticking or buzzing clock on a bedside table, watchmakers can still trigger that little touch of steampunk nostalgia.
- An expensive – if cool – foray into a strange branch of watchmaking.
- The clock is pretty simple. The real pull is the movement.
- At $ 3,500 ($ 4,811), this watch is likely too expensive for non-collectors.