Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

October 25, 2021
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Retro watches: it's about time

The 1970s were not a decade noted for great design. Men actually left the house wearing Nehru jackets with no collars at all or, alternately, suit jackets with collars the size of an elephant’s ear and ties scaled to match.

The most stylish of these men sported something new and nifty: an LED watch. You remember the red light emitting diodes, don’t you? If you’ve got one stashed in a drawer, it’s time to slip that metal expansion band back on your wrist — LED watches are hip again.

The journey back into fashion began in the ’90s with computer geeks, especially Japanese geeks. These days retro watches are hot, as
are a host of flashy new models using the same technology.

For the moment I’m sticking to my automatic movement, but if I ever make the switch I’d go for a new, wide bander with a dot-matrix display. The screen is a tiny version of those scrolling advertising displays, and most have some animation. To get the full effect, go to You’ll find wrist magic, from video/MP3 players to Wi-Fi locators. Prices begin at as little as $24.95.

More 21st century, and one of my faves, is the binary watch. It consists of two rows of flashing LED lights, four on the top, five on the bottom (red or blue are the most popular) and you can’t tell the time unless you know the code. The top lights represent the hours with the numbers 8-4-2-1, the bottom, the minutes, with numbers 32-16- 8-2-1. What does it all mean? If the first and third lights were flashing on the top row, the hour is 10 (8+2); and if the first and third lights are blinking on the bottom row, then it’s 40 (32+8) minutes past, so 10:40. And if it’s dark out, it’s PM.

The classiest binary watches sport space-age square cases with subdued lights. There are many other binary models to choose from as well as a host of astonishing new ways to tell the time. For the full techno-watch experience visit and Prices run from about $150 up.

This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.