Monochrome Watches
An online magazine dedicated to fine watches

The Seiko T001 – Mother Of All Smart Watches

| By Mario Squillacioti | 4 min read |

(Who said we were done bagging on about smart watches?) After a spring characterized by being bombarded by stories about smart watches, this summer I (almost) completely unplugged from the ‘net. One of my more productive endeavors whilst sitting by the pool was to pour over the pages of my trove of watch books and “MOOKS” (when a Magazine and a Book have a baby it is apparently called a MOOK…) On page 101 of “The Seiko Book” by Town Mook, I saw something that provoked a deep thought: What if smart watches have always been among us? What if, unbeknownst to you or me, you have the makings of a primitive smart watch in your drawer full of discarded gadgets? What if your portable cassette player and your first digital watch were trying to make their own MOOK?

Apparently, when Richard Leakey discovered Lucy, the missing link between early hominids and later early hominids, he was wearing a Rolex (or at least that is what the ad I saw way back when in National Geographic would have us believe!) Fittingly, I was wearing a Rolex when I discovered this!

Source: eBay
Source: eBay

The Seiko T001 – Seiko’s 1982 creation linking a portable television receiver with a 1 ¼ inch LCD screen. Perhaps we have discovered the kink on the evolutionary timeline of wristwatch technology that links primitive LCD and LED watches with today’s primitive smart watches!!!

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Seiko T001 - 7

The wrist component of the Seiko T001 looks discreet enough (if you are willing to ignore the minor inconvenience of the port used to dock the watch to the TV receiver.) Made up of 2 separate screens, the top, narrow screen is just for time, date and alarm features. The lower, bluer screen is for the video output.

© Wai's Watch Museum
© Wai’s Watch Museum

The TV receiver on the other hand is a Sony Walkman-like creation! [For those of you who don’t know what a Sony Walkman is … just shoot me now!] Meant to be worn in the user’s pocket or bag, the receiver allows you to choose between your favorite VHF (that’s VERY high frequency channel), UHF (that’s ULTRA high frequency) channels OR FM radio. With a deft touch at the thumbwheel you could watch or listen to all of your favorite programs, no matter where you are. This product is a prime example of Moore’s Law in action; semiconductor and computer processing technology have come so far in the 32 years since this product left the factory floor in Japan that it would seem outlandish to need a separate, cumbersome receiver to watch such a pathetically small screen. I’m pretty sure that there is someone working on an application for GOOGLE GLASS that will allow the wearer to enjoy his or her favorite TV shows while running or hang-gliding or whatever you want to do with your spare time. Give Seiko credit though, they saw a niche and they filled it with a product that was at least 3 decades ahead of its time! (It was also about 3 decades ahead of the technology needed to make it work.)

No Mr. Bond. I Expect You To BUY!

Seiko T001 - 2Sure James Bond needed a Seiko T001 TV watch. James Bond is a man for whom each and every day could be his last – therefore he needs to cram as much living into every available second. Do you or I need a watch with a TV built into it? Hardly! That’s why we have tablets and smartphones!

There is also the little matter of price. Normally I don’t delve into prices. I’ve shared my stance on money before – there is really no equating Dollars, Yen, Euros or Renminbi across people! Some have few and feel like they have more than enough, while others have many and feel they need more and more. In this instance I’ll break my tradition and say that when introduced in the United States in 1983, the suggested retail price was $495.00.

At first blush it still seems like a lot of money for a digital watch. Taking inflation into account, that $495.00 figure jumps to a rather breath-taking $1175.00 today! Y’ouch! A quick check of a popular online auction site brought one up for sale. It finished at $208.00 USD. If you think about it, that’s a fine price for a 32 year old piece of technology! Keep an eye out for similar items for your antiquated technology drawer! Or your own Smart Watch Museum!

16 responses

  1. HAHA another fickle attempt of the watch industry to battle the iWatch.

    Sorry Monochrome, u need to collect your 401k’s

  2. great that somebody still remembers these time pieces. I , myself, have been dreaming about getting one all my life. now i have)))) it’s untouched and shiny. . there was time when my commodore 64 was the top of home computers and it cost in Russia 4500rub ( half a Russian car))). seiko tv watch was beyond imagination.

  3. I think HENSHAW doesn’t realize this is a 33 year old watch not an “attempt” to battle the ugly useless iWatch…

  4. True))) even when I show my friends my collection of gadget watches and seiko tv ( my precious)) they always are excited to think how great it was to have this technologies on your wrist

  5. And another thing))) let me ask what the guaranty for an apple watch is?)) Half a year? Thats when a new model usually appears. All the watches of 80’s have been working for at least 30 years, give or take. I’m not talking about 70’s.

  6. Awesome watch. Wish I had one. Does it work with satellite TV or just regular transmission?

  7. Actually, it’s not working in the USA because of the new digital system of television but people always invent something))) they have converted the signal at home. It is a great collection piece. To my surprise it shows pictures and sound in Russia where the sydtem is PAL SECAM but not NTSC

  8. Ebay works wonders. It appears from time to time at a reasonable price
    I am no selling mine))) sorry

  9. OK Folks – As at todays date 8 Nov 2016 – I am just getting one on eBay from Dubai / USD 1100 including shipping to South Africa. The watch is in PRISTINE LIKE NEW condition. It is now that my SEIKO collection (Roger Moore007 Seikos) is completed now with the 5th Seiko

  10. Ask Kurt Klaus (IWC) what a smart watch is and you can forget the rubbish above.
    Smart Watches have existed for centuries, made by smart people’s hands and still working without constantly wasting the environment.

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