During the 1980s, Japanese brand Seiko was pushing the market to a whole new level with innovation and technology. When it came to watches, Seiko's creations were truly ahead of its time. In 1982, the company released the Seiko T001 - a portable television receiver with a 1.2-inch gray shade LCD display in Tokyo at $425.
Well, compared to a smartphone or tablet, now, the TV wristwatch seems nothing but a collectible item but back when this watch came out, there was nothing like it. The watch was featured in the James Bond film "Octopussy". What is cooler than wearing the same watch as James Bond?
The then super hi-tech television watch was the smallest tv-set in the world gaining the title of the "World's Smallest Television" in 1984 by the Guinness Book of Records.
So, how did it work?
The Seiko T001 came with a receiver, black connectors, and a headset. All one had to do was hook the receiver to the watch with the connector that would go through the sleeves and the receiver could be easily kept in pockets.
The headphones acted as a line antenna for the TV. It is a fully functioning watch; a digital built-in timer, watch, and alarm-clock with normal date-time functions. Plus, the user could access over-the-air broadcast television at any time.
Such a great innovation, but why did it die out?
Since its introduction, the company had only sold 2,200 units in the first nine months in Japan. The product was introduced in the USA at a slightly higher price of $495 back in 1983 which is equivalent to today's $1,300 (inflation) - making it appeal only to a limited market.
An article published by The New York Times in 1983 wrote:
Robert J Wexler, managing director of Tourneau Inc, the jewelry retailer, said, "It will sell to the limited audience which feels it must be the first to have a novelty. The average consumer probably will have little interest in it".
The next problem was the poor resolution grey screen - the TV was made with a type of trans-reflective liquid crystal video display that only worked if the watch was exposed to external light.
So, the brighter the light, the clearer the picture meaning a person with this watch had to find external light for better quality.
A great idea but failed because of many reasons; one of them was that the engineers said the LCD screen would only last for 7 years. Such costly features, much wow! And the receiver itself was the size of a small radio.
Big companies like Sony's introduction to portable TV - the Sony Watchman in 1982, Sinclair pocket TV in 1983, and Dansal's black and white portable TV in 1984 were all competitors to the Seiko TV watch which was restricted to its receiver box.
By the time Seiko's T001 made its way into the international market, it was already being dominated by competitors that came up with better products at reasonable prices. Better yet, one would not have to bear the hassle of wearing a wire all the time.
So, this high-end, costly TV watch might have wooed a few James Bond fans but the impractical features it came with at such a price ended up making it one of the great ideas that failed.