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L.2 Field Effect LCD

The invention of the Field Effect is attributed to Schadt and Helfrich, who described this effect in the periodical 'Applied Physical Letters' (18; 127 in 1971). The International Liquid Crystal Company of Cleveland, Ohio (Ilixco), became the pioneer in research and production of field effect displays. Much research was also conducted at Kent State University in the USA, by Brown Boveri in Germany and at the 'Centre Electronique Horlogère' (CEH) in Neuchâtel, Switzerland.

Light is polarised in two perpendicular directions. When light goes through one polarisation filter, only light polarised in one direction is left. When light passes two crossed polarisation filters no light remains.
When the incoming light of a LCD passes the front polarisation filter, the direction of polarisation follows the orientation of the molecules and turns ninety degrees.
Then, after it passes the crossed filter, it is mirrored back and follows the same way in the opposite direction resulting in a lighted display.
When a voltage is applied on the invisible electrodes on the glass plates, the electric field lines up the molecules, the polarisation is not altered and the crossed filters extinguish the light. At this time a dark part of the display can be seen. Since, with this technique, it only takes 0.3 seconds to change a digit, it became possible to display the seconds. It took three years to develop a technique which lowered the voltage needed for these LC displays from 7 to 1.5 Volt. The higher voltage of 7 Volts is the reason for finding both an IC and a transformer in the early modules.

The early field effect watches are:

11972The first watch with a field effect display was the 'Teletime', caliber 606, by the Gruen Watch Company. It was equipped with a display manufactured by Ilixco Co. in 1972. In Canada the same watch was issued under the name 'Pacemaker'.
The 'Quarza' by Cox Electronic Systems, Cleveland-Ohio, also had a display by Ilixco Co.
21973The Pallas Quarz with a module by Optel. Only the display has been altered (see L.1.2).
31973The Arctos Digital Quartz caliber 575 without seconds indication is launched.
This display should not be mistaken for the dynamic scattering cal. 575.
41973In December, Seiko markets its first LCD watch capable of displaying the seconds and the first watch by Seiko with lighting: the 0614 A or 06LC with an IC produced by SSS Inc. USA. Production quantity level reached 10,500 pieces. The watch was soon followed by calibers 0624 or 06LCA (December 1974), 0634 (June 1975), 0644 (December 1975), 0654 (January 1976).
51974The 'HMM-G' reaches the market. American Microsystems Inc. (AMI) provided the IC and Ilixco USA the display.
61974Citizen presents its first watch with field effect LCD: the 9010 A.
71973The 'Swissonic 2000' line produced by ESA contains a watch with a field effect LCD, developed in co-operation with Brown Boveri in Baden, Switzerland and Faselec, Z/rich, Switzerland. A prototype 'Clepsydre' was presented to the press at the Basle Fair. It was the first watch with field effect LCD to be entirely made in Switzerland.
1975The commercial production starts with the 'Derby', cal. ESA 9310, introduced by ESA at the Basle Fair 1975. The ESA 9312 was marketed in 1976 and the 9315 a few months later.
81974In November, the 'Nepro-N-quartz CX-15' with a quartz crystal by SSIH and a display by Brown Boveri Corp is marketed. This watch was the result of co-operation between Timelec SA of Uster, Switzerland, and Nepro.
91974SGT, Société des Garde-Temps introduce their first watches with field effect displays at the Basle Fair. The Module ERC 2 is provided by the Electronic Research Co., a subsidiary company of Textron Inc. Providance, USA.
101974Orient Watch markets a LCD watch, cal. 6200 and a short time later cal. 64100, with second indication and with an IC manufactured by Sharp Japan.
111975Arctos, BWC and Provita issue the Digital-Quartz Date and Second caliber LCQ 675 followed by the the LCQ 775 in 1977. The LCQ 675 had a quartz crystal by Motorola and the LCQ 775 was fitted with a LCD by Electrovac, Wien, Austria, and a quartz crystal by Siemens, Germany.
121975Hughes Aircraft develops an interesting module for Longines for its 'Gemini II' (cal. 785.1) with both a LCD and a LED display.
131975The first ladies' LCD quartz watch produced by Seiko, cal. 4100, to be produced in commercial quantities, is marketed.
141975The first Russian LCD watch 'Elektronika', cal. 3049, is sold by Neckermann Germany for DM 85,-. The module had been developed in the laboratories of the 'Department of the Electronic Industries' in Moscow, USSR.
151976Introduction of the Heur Lady LCD watch, cal. 101.703.

Dichroic field effect display

In 1974 D.L. White and G.N. Taylor made the results of their research on dichroic displays known to the public. They mixed the liquid of the usual field effect display with a dichroic dye and used only one polarising filter. The advantages of this invention were: better brightness of the digits; a greater angle of vision; two different colours in one display and the possibility of using many other colours ('dichroic' means two colours in Greek).

201984Early watches of this kind are the ETA Flatline calibers 958.331 and 988.331 with digital display and with mechanical hands.


The first watches with LCA or pseudo-analogue display (i.e. with hands formed by LCD-segments) were:

301973Suncrux Incorporated of Cupertino California, introduces a watch by the name 'La Croix'. The watch contains an IC manufactured by Toshiba. Dainippon Toryo Osaka Japan and Dainippon Printing Tokyo Japan (producer of LCDs) and VBC Co. USA (electronics), owned , between them, 84% of the shares of Suncrux. The inventor as mentioned by the patent is Shiguru Fukomoto. The patent was filed on September 30th, 1972 in Japan, and granted no. 47-98288 and 47-98289. These watches didn't obtain the expected success and are therefore very hard to find. Sun Art Co. Ltd was a subsidiary company of Suncrux which sold these watches.
311973A patent is filed by N.J. Murrel of Great Britain (patent GB-050182) on October 29. Whether commercial production was ever started is unknown.
321979At the Basle Fair of 1979, Texas Instruments is the first company to present a watch with a pseudo analogue display. A patent for this watch was filed on February 13 1978. (nos. 877041, 877191 and 877192 USA). At that time Texas Instrumens was the world's most important producer of integrated circuits and the first one to market a transistor-radio.
331980Seiko markets the G757 with digital and pseudo analogue liquid crystal display.
341980In June, Casio Japan launches the AA81 and AA91 with module QW 103, followed in March 1981 by the AN series with module QW 104.
351980ESA launches caliber 931.771, designed and made at Ebauches Electroniques S.A. It combines a digital and an analogue liquid crystal display.
361980In the same year, ESA also starts marketing caliber ESA 932.051, also known under the name 'Golden Quartz'. This watch owes its name to the gilded background of the digital display with black LCD hands. The 'Golden Quartz' line consists of one man's and two ladies' calibers.
371980Orient sells the Sound Monitor with a double LC display, one with a digital and the other with a pseudo analogue display.


401979A peculiar LCD watch, produced by Nepro (Paolo Spadini) with Roman instead of Arabic digits, is released. The watch has never been produced commercially.
411980In September, the first watch with a dot matrix LC display is sold by Pulsar, a brandname of Seiko. Caliber D 031.
421980Seiko issues a watch with a duo LC display: the Seiko H357. The watch is later worn by James Bond in the movie "For Your Eyes Only"
431983The Seiko (Pulsar) launches the Y 950 with a calendar from 1900 up to 2099 and the Y 951 with a worldmap indicating 26 different time zones, produced with a dial and a LCD screen. The normal dial with three hands is always visible, the LCD screen is activated by pushing a button, and shows the alarm, chronograph and other functions. When these functions are not used the thin LCD screen remains transparent.
44Seiko, D 138 with a dot matrix liquid cristal display.

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Copyright © by Pieter Doensen

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