Pulsar P2 (Stainless, Tiffany)
The world's first mass produced digital watch!
The Pulsar P2 was a landmark in timekeeping history, the very first digital watch to enter mass production. This particular version was branded by Tiffany and sold in exclusive Tiffany department stores for the sum of $275 in 1973. Pulsar sold wristwatches through a small number of high end retailers including Tiffany, Ambercrombie and Fitch, and Neiman Marcus. Pulsar P2 watches can be found with either the Tiffany and Neiman Marcus logos added to the crystal. The Tiffany branded models are relatively rare and Neiman Marcus branded models even rarer. Despite their scarcity, the value of the Tiffany and Neiman Marcus branded watches is on par with Pulsar branded watches since Pulsar is a very high end and illustrious brand by itself (at least it was, before it was acquired by Seiko).
Pulsar P2 Tiffany Advertisement
The P2 was a very simple digital watch by today's standards. With its single button, it only had the capability to show the time (hours, minutes, and seconds) - no date, day of the week, stopwatch, alarm, or any other features were included. Still, the P2 was a technological breakthrough and is today considered by horological historians as the first entirely successful digital watch in history.
What made the P2 a success was the first use of large scale integrated (LSI) chip technology in a wristwatch. The first LED watch prototype that was shown by Hamilton at a press conference in May of 1970 had 44 discrete chips, each very simple. Only three prototypes existed and Hamilton struggled to keep at least one of them running for the duration of the one hour press conference. When the Pulsar P1 was introduced in mid 1972, the chip count was brought down to 25 but the module still had over 400 discrete connections. It proved again to be unreliable and was recalled within months. Although the Pulsar P1 was a historical landmark, it was not a technical or financial success. When the Pulsar P2 was introduced in 1973, it's Pulsar 2900 module replaced the entire arrangement of chips and connections with a single integrated circuit chip. This finally gave the digital watch the solid state reliability that designers had dreamed about and resulted in a design that was practical enough to build reasonably economically and reliable enough to wear. These factors are why the Pulsar P2 is now considered to be the very first successful digital watch.
Despite its limited capability, the stainless steel Pulsar P2 sold for $395 in 1973 - more than a Rolex Submariner which cost only $385 at the time. Despite the hefty price, the P2 became a highly coveted icon of the modern age. The elegant lines crafted by Hamilton's master watch case designer Jean Wuispchard made the P2 an instant classic. The Pulsar P2 found its way onto the wrists of a number of celebrities including Bill Bixby who wore his P2 on and off-screen, Peter Sellers, Jack Nicholson, and John Entwistle from The Who.
The P2 was available in two models, a stainless steel model called the "Astronaut" and a 14 KT gold filled "VIP" model. Solid gold models in 14KT and 18KT were also produced as a special order item.
Almost 40 years since its introduction, the P2 is still a very stylish and comfortable watch to wear. The segmented bracelet (21 links) is extremely comfortable and the watch is lighter than it looks. In addition, the dot style LED display manufactured by Litronix has large, bright digits and is very readable and attractive.
Case: Very good.
The case is in very good condition with only a number of very small marks on the case front and sides. The case back only has a few very small scratches.
Face / Hands: Excellent.
All LED digits and segments are complete and bright.
The red mineral glass crystal has numerous small scratches across the surface and small chips around the perimeter. The scratches are all small, and don't diminish the readability of the display in any way. There are no large chips or gashes in the red mineral glass. The Tiffany logo is worn but still quite readable.
Band / Bracelet: Very good.
The bracelet has a full set of 22 links and will fit a large 8" wrist. One of the links near the lower lug is slightly bent. The signed clasp is in good condition with just a few minor scratches and still contains its original magnet and magnet holder. This bracelet has also been fitted with a clasp extender to fit a large wrist up to about 8.5"
Function / Accuracy: Excellent.
All functions work perfectly. Digital quartz accuracy. Actually, since quartz crystals actually improve with age and the original Pulsar accuracy was a phenomenal 30 seconds per year, these vintage Pulsars usually keep time better than most modern quartz watches!