With the success of smartwatches from Apple, Samsung and others, you may be forgiven for forgetting about the humble digital watch. You know, those watches from Casio and Timex which put calendars, multiple alarms, timezones, and even fitness tracking on your wrist way before Silicon Valley got involved.
These watches blend some of the features of smartwatches with the huge battery life of a digital timepiece, while offering quirky, attention-grabbing design and affordable prices.
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How to buy the best digital watch for you
Naturally, a lot of the buying process here is down to personal preference. Which watch fits best? Which has the features you want? Which best compliments your personal style?
There are other considerations too, of course. Do you want a digital watch the size of a wall clock and which looks like it could single-handedly save you from an avalanche? Would you like a classic Casio, complete with exam-busting calculator? Or do you prefer a watch which offers traditional hands and a digital display in one place?
Here’s a selection of our favourite digital watches on sale today:
The G-Shock GA 100 by Casio is a bulky 51mm watch which is designed to soak up abuse. It is water resistant to 200 metres, has an anti-magnetic structure to ensure its timekeeping stays accurate wherever you go, and there’s an LED backlight for seeing the time and other functions in the dark.
The watch face includes physical hour and minute hands, plus a second dial, two further complications, and two digital displays for showing the date, stopwatch (accurate to 1/1000th of a second), calendar and other functions.
This remarkable watch looks like something James Bond might have worn in the Seventies, with its stainless steel case, scroll wheel and curious retro design. The watch offers a full calendar, countdown timer, alarm and second time zone, and its EasySkroll operating system can be updated over time.
The case is 42mm wide and water resistant to three atmospheres, or around 30 metres.
This is what happens when the Swiss get involved with making digital watches. Instead of merely slapping an LED display onto a military-grade rubber case, Tissot has produced a watch which is arguably more analogue than digital.
Time is kept with a Swiss quartz movement, and power is topped up thanks to a solar watch face. The 43mm case is protected by sapphire crystal and the watch is water resistant to 330 feet, or a whisker over 100 metres.
The titanium-bodied watch has over 20 different features, including multiple time zones and weather forecasts, plus an altimeter and compass. Strap options include silicone, leather and titanium.
The Garmin Fenon 5X is what happens when a smartwatch is created to be the best outdoor wearable it can be. Ditching the polish and panache of an Apple Watch, the Garmin is a touch screen smartwatch instead of a purely digital timekeeper, but instead of bothering you with games and social media notifications, it has advanced GPS and mapping, a barometric altimeter, and is water resistant to 100 metres.
The watch has full-colour recreational mapping for all of Europe pre-loaded onto it, with turn-by-turn directions for walking, hiking, cycling and running. A system called GroupTrack lets you keep an eye on friends while you’re all out exploring or skiing.
Fitness features include 24-hour heart rate monitoring and information on daily exercise and calories burned. There’s also a VO2Max estimator, which estimates the maximum volume of oxygen you can consumer per minute.
There was also a kid at school who had a calculator watch, wowing their peers with its mathematical abilities. In a time before smartphones, such technology was considered pretty cutting-edge.
Now you can buy one for yourself, as Casio still makes its iconic Databank range. This mode, the CA53W-1, has an 8-digital calculator, plus other features like dual time zones, a daily alarm, hourly time signal, and an automatic calendar. At around £20, who could say no?
The minimalist design of this Braun BN0159 makes it stand out from the rest of the digital crowd. It features analogue hour, minute and second hands, plus a small digital display for shoeing the date, alarm, stopwatch and second time zone.
The watch keeps time with a quartz movement and features 44mm stainless steel case (available in black, white and grey) with rubber strap. Braun says the BN0159 is water resistant to five atmospheres, or approximately 50 metres.
More of a digital readout for your outdoor adventures than merely a watch, the Timex Expedition WS4 features a unique widescreen display which shows several pieces of information at once.
The watch measures a chunky 50mm across, and shows the time, weather, temperature and other information at a glance. It is water resistant to 50 metres and even alerts you if you exceed a user-defined altitude on your hike.
Other features include a 100-hour stopwatch, 24-hour countdown timer, two time zones, inclement weather warnings, and a screw-down battery hatch to make replacing the battery easier.
You could buy a classic Casio in black like a normal person, but where’s the fun in that? This shiny gold model screams Eighties chinz while still being something of a bargain.
Like all Casio’s of this style, the A168WG is compact and unobtrusive on the wrist, at just 34mm across. It features a simple digital display with time, day and date always on show, and there is a stopwatch, daily alarm and optional hourly chime.