By Rob Temple Last updated
1972: Hamilton Pulsar
Announced in 1970, this was the first true digital watch, and cost $2,000. The steel P2 model was worn, suavely, by Roger Moore in 1973's Live and Let Die, but we prefer this 18k gold one.
1982: Nelsonic Game Watches
NYC's Nelsonic Industries was the first US company to add gaming to its timepieces, licensing top titles including PacMan, then moving on to Super Mario Bros and Ghostbusters.
1983: Casio Databank CD40
Among the first watches to store information, this school-yard status symbol was also invaluable for cheating at maths. Versions are still made to this day.
1984: Seiko Data 2000
Set this advanced model on its electro-magnetic keyboard dock, and you could type away for up to 2,000 characters – hence the name – then view the data on the LCD screen. It also had date, time, alarm and stopwatch functions.
1984: Seiko D409
This wrist piece acquired data without the need of a dock. It featured a dotmatrix via an arcade high-score-table-style “keyboard” and a colossal, 112 digit display, text entry high-score-table 112 digit memory.
1984: Seiko RC1000
This “Wrist Terminal” was compatible with all the big PCs of the day – Commodore 64, IBM PC, Tandy Color, etc. The following year's RC-20 had 2K of RAM, opening up a world of memos, scheduling and more cheating at maths.
1992: Timex Indiglo
Sales of this shot up after an office worker used its electroluminescent display to guide 40 people to safety following the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Killer features don't come much simpler.
2000: IBM Linux
The prototype had six hours of battery life, later upgraded to 12, and 8MB of storage. It later gained a fingerprint sensor and accelerometer. IBM and Citizen then created the WatchPad, a yet-more-powerful Linux-based watch, but the project was abandoned by 2002.
2003: Palm Fossil
Initial designs of this Palm OS “wrist PDA” were described as “a cell phone glued on one's wrist”. It ran apps such as DocumentsToGo 6 and Palm Games, but was still overly hefty and suffered from a dim screen and poor battery.
2003: Garmin Forerunner
The Forerunner series changed it up a gear for noughties joggers. The 50 introduced wireless data transmission, while 2008's 405 was much smaller and lighter than its predecessors. Today, few runners are without one.
2003: Polar S625x
A precursor to Nike+ and Adidas miCoach, this used a wireless sensor to track running speed and distance in real-time. It also provided heart-rate data, Polar having introduced the first wearable, wire-free cardio monitor two decades previous.
2005: Nixon Dictator
Retro pieces became hipster must-haves – at least one on each wrist – in the mid00s. Taking advantage, this suitably Dickish (as in Tracy) offering also records and plays back up to eight audio files.
2009: LG GD910
Gracing the cover of T3 on release, this was the first full-on 3G watch phone. With a 1.4-inch, 128x160 touchscreen, 80MB of storage, and video calling via a 0.3-meg camera its spec was middling for a phone but fairly awesome for a timepiece.
2010: Apple iPod Nano
The sixth-gen model had wristbands available for it – just like a watch! – and 16 clock faces to show on its hi-res, 1.55-inch screen – just like a watch! – and played music, unlike a watch. An iWatch harbinger?
2011: Sony Ericsson LiveView
Designed to control your Android blower via a touch panel, this let you check Twitter, Facebook et al. It was good on paper, but not so good on your arm, with reviews cruelly decrying it as buggy and slow.
2011: Allerta InPulse
You may never have heard of this, but the InPulse 2 is currently the world's most hyped gadget. You've never heard of that either? That's cos they rebadged it as the Pebble, you see…
2011: Motorola MotoActv
With GPS to track your jog and apps to assess it, this is sporty wristwear of a more stylish hue. It also features a DJ mode that “learns what tunes motivate you the most” – Leonard Cohen, in our case.
2012: Sony SmartWatch
Another Sony effort that connects to Android phones – see LiveView, above – this displays social feeds, texts et al on an OLED display. Described in one review as “Maybe the worst thing Sony has ever made.” Harsh but fair.
2013: Pebble Watch
Gaining $10m in Kickstarter funding and shifting 15,000 units a week since January, this is the new smartwatch innovator. But some big-name rivals are round the corner.