Fashion trends tend to repeat a cycle every 20 years, except, we hope, polyester leisure suits. The Hula Hoop, model trains and hats enjoy regular reclaims to fame over time. It is attributable to nostalgia or an unexplainable desire to relive past styles, to reminisce a simpler time or revisit yesterday’s fashion or technology. Consumers’ most reliable mantra could be, “don’t throw anything away – eventually everything comes back in vogue.”
In the 1970’s, digital electronic technology burst onto the scene with the introduction of digital calculators (you could even divide and multiply) and the digital watch, a revolutionary way to tell time from your wrist. Predictions were that this new concept of telling time would soon replace the millennium – old devices with three moving hands; one long, one short and one even longer that continually floated gracefully around the dial or clicked, clicked, clicked with each passing second.
But the initial excitement over digital watches soon cooled. As is often the case with some things new and cool the sense of fashion and style over-rule the sense of easier and cheaper. Before the decade was done, digital watches were relegated to “geek” status and joined the ranks of cuffed bell bottoms, five-inch wide ties and disco dancing. Today the few available nerdy devices account for just 23 percent of the wrist watch market, while the time pieces from the sun-dial era make up for the remaining 77 percent of time keepers.
But the digital watch is about to experience its own comeback! The once clunky and garish appearance of digital watches is being replaced with more style and sheik, rivaling their ancient predecessor’s knack for high-fashion and flare. Digital’s, less-smart, high fashion return to fame is being led by three luxury brands: Diesel, the style leader; Citizen, the high-quality contender; and Casio, the never give-up-on digital award winner. Pundits all things fashionable are urging those who want to stay on top of evolving trends to buy a digital watch.
But the likelihood that the new digital watch fashion will remain a staple of style and not resort to passing fad status, could depend more on newer technology and the purveyors of electronic wizardry. The new smartwatch era, digital watch will be linked to the smartphone, monitor the wearer’s vital health indicators, provide the latest weather, entertain, make a call; and yes, tell the time anywhere in the world all from the wrist and with style. Analog, meet your demise.
The refurbished and refined digital-watch niche is soon to be dominated by names like Apple, Samsung Electronics, Pebble, Sony and Google, to name just a few. History’s former time-keeping leaders may soon find affinity with the likes of Kodak, the fallen king of imagery.
The digital watch of the 70’s generation may have just been ahead of the technological curve, behind the trends of fashion and style or may have just have met a market too comfortable with a time past. But the new era of the digital watch has arrived. Could it be that even though in time all things change, with the passing of enough time, some things will reclaim their rightful place, in time?