Pulsar P2 (Stainless)
The world's first mass produced digital watch!
Roger Moore as James Bond
with his 1973 Pulsar P2
Although the Pulsar P1 gets credit for being the very first digital watch, it was a limited edition (of only 400) and the P2 was the first to digital watch to be produced in any significant number. The P2 entered the market with a huge splash in 1973 during the opening scenes of "Live and Let Die", the first James Bond movie starring Roger Moore.
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.
Bond decides he's spent enough time with Miss Caruso in the opening scene from
'Live and Let Die'
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.
Bill Bixby with the lovely (and tragic) Brenda Benet on one arm and Pulsar P2 on the other
Jack Nicholson and his leather banded Pulsar P2
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.
Peter Sellers with his Pulsar P2
Case: Very good .
The case is in very good condition with only small marks visible. There is a small scratch on the lower left underneath the time screen that is visible in some photos. There are a few tiny marks that are visible in the right lighting, but the edges are excellent and there are no large marks so it looks almost perfect unless you look very closely. The brushing has been retouched to give it a nice crisp brushed look just like when it was new. The only weak spot is the case back, which has some marks and is marked with the Hamilton logo which indicates that it was not original to this P2, though it's identical to the original in every other way.
Face / Hands: Excellent.
All LED digits and segments are complete and very bright.
The red mineral glass crystal has been replaced with a new old stock perfect mint crystal. It's flawless - just like the day it left the factory.
Band / Bracelet: Good.
The bracelet has 18 out of its original 20 links and will fit a 7.5" to 7.75" wrist. If your wrist is larger than this, then you will probably need a clasp extender. The clasp is in very good condition and contains its original magnet holder. The magnet provided with this watch is a later P3 style magnet, which is slightly different than the horseshoe shaped magnet that most P2's had.
Function / Accuracy: Excellent.
All functions work perfectly. Digital quartz accuracy. This P2 has been fitted with a Strikes and Spares replacement module which uses a modern microprocessor instead of the original IC. The module carrier, display, and light sensor are original so the module is visually almost identical to the original module and has the benefit of increased reliability from using a modern microprocessor.