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Dean Owen

Dean Owen

To Watches24/02/2016

Being born in the Sixties, one of the first watches I wore proudly at boarding school in England was a Light Emitting Diode (LED) watch. These LED watches first started appearing in the early Seventies, and soon some major houses like Omega, JLC and Girard Perregaux had jumped on the bandwagon and released their versions.
The first electronic "solid state" watches, so called as they had no moving parts, were developed by electronics and computing companies like Electro-Data and HP. Because LED watches consumed so much power, they were typically "time on demand", meaning that the user would effectively need to push a button on the side of the case in order to tell the time, which would after a few seconds turn itself back "off", or sleep mode as we now call it.
In the last few years, we are seeing quite a revival of interest in the LED watches of the Seventies, partly due to nostalgia, partly due to the funky space age designs, and partly because they are of historical significance to the world of timekeeping, albeit for a short period.
After two years of internal development, Girard Perregaux launched their own version, the Casquette watch, in 1976. GP went all out to develop the best LED watch on the market. Rather than outsourcing the modules like other houses did, GP had their own electronic department complete all the R&D and manufacturing, and also went the extra mile using pre-aged quartz crystals to ensure accuracy and durability.
I was fortunate enough to come across an extremely rare "New Old Stock" version of the 18k gold filled version. Only 2,200 pieces were produced and these were definitely considered luxury watches in the Seventies, commanding a hefty SFr 775. price tag.

Dean Owen