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Segtronic Optel LCD

One of the first LCD watches, with a futuristic streamlined design


This Segtronic Optel LCD watch was a very early digital watch that became available in late 1973, just a few months after the very first modern "field effect" LCD watch, the Gruen Teletime. This particular design has a great streamlined case which still looks futuristic today. These early LCD watches were capable of showing the hours and minutes only, and as a result have a very elegant simplicity.

Segtronic 1974 Advertisement

This Segtronic Optel featured one of the first modern liquid crystal displays used in a wristwatch, which is almost identical to the displays commonly used today in wristwatches and most other forms of electronic gadgets.

The "field effect" LCD display applies a tiny current to a thin sheet of liquid crystal material, causing the liquid crystals to align, "polarizing" the light that passes through. When the light passes through another polarizer, the display turns dark where the liquid crystals are aligned and remains a lighter color where the liquid crystals are in their natural random orientation. These electronically controlled black on grey regions are arranged to form digits. A four digit time display has three seven segement digits, one two segment digit and a colon, for a total of 24 independently controlled display regions. This technology has continued to be used almost unchanged from its original form 40 years ago and will probably continue for a very long time.

The Segtronic Optel uses an interesting and uncommon crown and stem based mechanism for setting the time instead of buttons. To set the hours, just turn the spring loaded crown 45 degrees counter-clockwise. To set the minutes, just turn the crown 45 degrees clockwise. A few early LCD watches from 1973 to 1974 used stem set mechanisms, which were discontinued and never used again, which is a shame since it's a classy and effective system.


Case: Excellent.
Minty perfect in every way. The case has all of its original machining and is virtually like new

Face / Hands: Excellent.
The face is minty perfect. No marks or signs of aging at all. It looks just like it came from a department store widow in 1973. The LCD exhibits an ageing effect where the digits appear uneven and broken from some angles and complete from other angles (as shown in the photos above).

Crystal: Excellent.
No nicks, scratches, or marks of any kind.

Band / Bracelet: Excellent.
The excellent wide stainless bracelet is in minty perfect condition. The bracelet comfortably fits an 8" wrist.

Function / Accuracy: Excellent.
This watch works perfectly. Digital quartz accuracy.