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Hughes "Timeulator" Calculator Watch

As seen on Battlestar Galactica!


Hughes aircraft corporation was founded in 1932 by the legendary aviator, film maker and businessman, Howard Hughes. In addition to the many aeronautical feats of the company, the Hughes corporation became a leader in advanced electronics and integrated circuits. The Hughes corporation was responsible for the advances in electronic and computer engineering acheivements such as:

  • The first working ruby laser in 1960
  • Syncom, the world's first geosynchronous communications satellite in 1963
  • Surveyor 1, the first probe to soft land on the moon in 1966
  • Pioneer Venus, which explored Venus by radar in 1978
  • The Gallileo probe to Jupiter in 1989

1977 Hughes Calculator Watch Advertisement

Hughes also became the common supplier of digital modules for 1970s era digital watches. They produced both the integrated circuit chips as well as the completed moduels and also produced a small number of LED watches marketed under the Hughes name.

The Hughes calculator watch came out in 1978 and was touted as a direct result of the space program. It featured an aggressively technical looking styling and was marketed towards and engineering and technically savvy demographic.

The futuristic looks of the Hughes calculator led to its being chosen to appear in the 1978 science fiction television series, Battlestar Galactica. If you look closely, you'll note that the silver Hughes calculator watch is worn by the pilots including Starbuck, played by Dirk Benedict and Captain Apollo, played by Richard Hatch. The gold Hughes calculator watch was worn by commander Adama, played by Lorne Greene.

Battlestar Galactica's Captain Apollo with his Hughes Calculator Watch (and Serina/Jane Seymour!)

Battlestar Galactica's Commander Adama with his Hughes Calculator Watch

The Hughes calculator watch has a relatively simple set of functions. To start with, there are two buttons on the sides of the watch- the right button displays the time and the left button displays the date. The calculator mode is entered by pressing the "C" key on the front keypad. The calculator features a 9 digit display and includes just basic arithmetic functionality as well as a memory function. Pressing the time button deactivates the calulator and retuns to wristwatch mode. The watch will also return to wristwatch model if no key is pressed after about 10 seconds.

Hughes Calculator watch compared to a Cylon from Battlestar Galactica

These Hughes calculator watches were offered in both gold and silver cases and were marketed either as this unbranded type sold by Hughes or as a variant branded by CompuChron.

Priced aggresively at just $150, the Hughes calculators were a relatively low cost alternative to the competition, which included the Pulsar Calculator watch and the HP-01 calculator watch, each of which cost over $500 in the late 1970s. Although the case is just base metal and the build quality is a step below the high end calculator watches, the Hughes had reltively large, practical buttons that you can press with a fingernail instead of needing a stylus and the futuristic styling is hard to resist. Also, the base metal case allows this watch to be lighter than it would be if it were stainless steel. This makes the Hughes calculator watch surprisingly wearable and comfortable despite the thick, chunky dimensions and the hard edges.

LED calculator watches are quite rare since they were only made for a period from about 1977 to 1978 and not many models exist. Today, the Hughes calculator watches are highly sought after by nerdy retro collectors because of the Battlestar Galactica connection and the fantastic and very unique styling.


Case: Excellent.
The case is in excellent like new condition in every way. It doesn't appear that this watch was worn. There are a few very faint tiny to the mirror polished left and right edges, but otherwise this watch is in as nearly perfect condition as you could want or expect.

Face / Hands: Excellent.
The face is in excellent condition, almost mint.

Crystal: Excellent.
The mineral glass crystal is in near perfect condition. There is one very tiny nick on the top edge, but the rest of the crystal including the front fact are perfect.

Band / Bracelet: Excellent.
The original stainless steel bracelet is well constructed and is in excellent, almost mint condition.

Function / Accuracy: Excellent.
All functions work perfectly. The calculator buttons require a firm press but all work fine. Digital quartz accuracy.