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K.1 Hamilton Pulsar


1970On May 6th, the Hamilton Watch Company, Lancaster Pennsylvania USA, shows the international press prototypes of the first fully electronic wrist watch in the world: the Pulsar Time Computer. It becomes the first watch in the world without any moving parts. M. Thiess was the most important instigator for the development of this watch. The electronic module was produced by Electro Data Incorporation, Garland Texas USA and by RCA USA. The LED displays originated from Litronix, the reed relays from Hamlin USA and the red crystal from Corning Glass, New York USA. The case of the prototypes had been designed by the sculptor Ernest Trove of St. Louis. The watch has a calendar with programmed length of the month. This prototype of the Pulsar had 40 different integrated circuits and a battery of 4,5 V which had to be recharged every six months. Often publications can be found with an illustration of a LED watch with the name 'Hamilton' above the crystal. These are prototypes. Only watches with the name 'Pulsar' came into production. At the moment the press conference was given, Hamilton only had three working prototypes of the Pulsar.
1971The production starts with a limited series in 18 carat gold at a price of US $ 1500. The Pulsars go on sale just before Christmas.
1972The normal production of steel and goldfilled models starts in August 1972. Moving parts had now been eliminated and the total number of the parts was only 18, including the batteries. The first models (movement 101, 102 and 401) have a magnetic setting and one button on the right. The magnet is stored in the clip of the bracelet. In order to set the hours, a magnet needs to be placed on the letters 'HR' at the back of the watch. To set the minutes, the magnet needs to be placed at the spot marked 'MIN'. The later models could easily be adjusted by pushing the buttons once, twice or three times. Movements no. 401 and 4000, sold from 1974, have another special feature; the auto command system. When you move your arm with a very brisk and swift motion, the watch will display the time for 1.25 seconds. The result of this sharp movement is that a drop of mercury in a small sealed glass tube makes electrical contact between the two metal wire ends at one end of the tube. The case of the Pulsar is hermetically closed. The buttons contain magnets which can close a contact by means of a reed-relay. Three photo-electric cells measure the light intensity and adapt the brightness of the LEDs to diminish the expenditure of energy. Many famous personalities possessed a Pulsar: Roger Moore (James Bond in the film 'Live and Let Die'), Leonid Brezjnef, Haili Selassie, Sammie Davis and the Shah of Iran.
1974The first ladies' watches are sold. The first autocommand Pulsar watches are marketed in July of this year. During the first four years after its release, 50,000 Pulsars are sold.
1975On January 1st the Pulsar Time Computer is given a different name and from then on only sold under the brandname 'Omega Time Computer'.
1977The prices of LED watches are reduced due to overproduction in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Production stops when Hamilton loses approximately six million dollars on the entire operation, goes into bankruptcy and splits up.


There is a rare ladies' watch of which the LED display will light up at the slightest touch of a fingertip. No button to push. Unknown date of release.
Eventually the LED modules by Pulsar were used by only three companies: Omega (Time Computer), Hamilton (QCT) and Wittnauer (Polara Quartz Digital).

The numbers of the movements for men's watches are: 102, 104, 401, 402, 403, 406, 4000 and 4302. The ladies' movements are identified by the following reference numbers: 101 and 4300.
The Pulsar Time Computer Calculator and the Pulsar Pulse Time Computer will be dealt with in the section 'Multifunctional Watches'.
The history of these watches has been covered extensively in Don Saunders' book "Time for America".

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Copyright by Pieter Doensen

email: doensen@xs4all.nl

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