The best digital watches that aren’t the Apple Watch


You do not know ? Digital watches are costs now. First in the 1970s they were futuristic and expensive, then they became iconic cheap watches, then they were worn ironically… and finally they achieved a nostalgic status that saw vintage models reissued with cared for and gobbled up even by arrogant collectors. . Definitely digital watches can to be costs.

The short list

Benefits of going digital

Above all, digital watches are very practical: First, a digital display is instantaneous and objectively easier to read than analog hands. Second, fewer moving parts mean less chance of wear and damage from impact, which makes them naturally tough. Finally, many digital watches can, of course, be very cheap – but, we hasten to remind you, just having a digital display or a quartz movement does not mean that a watch is not not made with care, quality materials or even craftsmanship.

What “digital” actually means

The word “digital” can have two meanings: one that refers to the way of displaying information and the other that refers to a type of technology. Since both can apply to watches, a small clarification is in order: when referring to the display, digital means that the information is displayed as changing numbers that are read directly. The opposite is analog, in which the hands point to numbers along a scale. (Watches that combine analog and digital displays are called ana-digi.) It’s quite simple.

On the other hand, “digital” also refers to the technology that uses zeros and ones to represent information transmitted through integrated circuits. For example, the Apple Watch uses all-digital technology but features “faces” that display the time in a traditional analog format.

Most modern watches with digital displays also use quartz movements, so that’s what we’re focusing on here (see this article for smartwatches). Just be aware that there are many examples of analog watches with electronic technology (quartz, batteries, ICs) inside. Those with digital displays powered by traditional spring-loaded mechanisms are relatively rare and often high-end today (see the Yema Digidisc for an affordable example), but were popular in the 1960s and are worth exploring in as vintage collectibles.

What to look for in a digital watch

Like any watch, you want something durable, comfortable, easy to use, and visually interesting. There are, however, a few points to consider that apply specifically to digital watches.

Most digital watches use LCD screens, and those with dark text on a light background are the most readable – and readability is important for long-term watch enjoyment. Negative (light on dark) displays “look cool”, but take our word for it, they undermine the very purpose of a watch by being difficult to read. You have been warned.

Finally, some digital watches offer additional technology that allows the batteries to be recharged by exposure to light (solar charging), and this feature adds significant value and is worth researching.

The best digital watches you can buy in 2021


Casio G-Shock 5600

$100.10 (28% off)

Since its beginnings in 1983, G-Shock has been the benchmark for indestructible and functional plastic watches. Although it’s since been joined by a slew of fashion-focused models, one G-Shock series in particular still embodies those values ​​and the original design: the 5600. It’s rugged, affordable, lightweight, comfortable, fun, without pretentiousness and kind of a perfect overall watch. . When equipped with a positive screen and Tough Solar, the G-Shock 5600 (whether it starts with G-, GW-, GWX-DWE-, etc.) cannot be recommended enough. (For an alternate classic G-Shock, look for the same features in a 6900-series model.)

Casio G-Shock Full Metal GMWB5000

While the plastic G-Shock 5600 is the quintessential practical watch, newer versions that have been rendered in steel have a more serious presence. They also have Tough Solar and all the high-end features you want, including scratch-resistant sapphire crystal (like on luxury watches), radio synchronization for better accuracy, and Bluetooth connectivity. A steel strap even mimics the look of the original resin strap. With its iconic look but a more luxurious feel, this is a digital watch that appeals to dedicated watch enthusiasts, though it’s still reasonably affordable. For true fans looking to take it a step further, try the high-end titanium models.

If you just want a great digital watch experience for everyday use, the Casio World Time is worth a look. For a ridiculous sum, it offers a hell of a lot of watches. While the ultra-basic but iconic F-91W is even cheaper, the World Time is better sized for modern tastes and has a few extra features. It’s also reasonably durable for its price, but if you break it, you won’t be too sad and can easily replace it.


Yes, it’s another Casio, but the Japanese brand clearly owns the digital watch space – and it’s a calculator watch! No it’s the calculator watch. It used to be cheesy, but now it’s cool, as long as you have the personality to do it. Plus, you can do calculations on it faster than reaching for your phone. There are also several models offering different designs, colors, materials and prices.


The Timex T80 collection is a tribute to the brand’s first digital watches. It’s stylistically and functionally similar to select Casio models, but it wears boldly and also features the brand’s own Indiglo lighting. The collection includes a range of finishes, colors, strap options, and even a Timex x Pac-Man edition for that extra kick of ’80s style.

Q Timex Digital Reissue LCA

While many of Casio’s digital watches have been in continuous production since the ’80s without any apparent irony, Timex has dug into its archives to reissue a model with a little ironic nostalgic appeal. We love the resurrected Q Timex line for being proudly quartz, and the Digital LCA offers a retro look with some nice details.


With an interesting history and modern watches that draw inspiration from it in all the right ways, Yema is one of our favorite makers of tool watches and even their own in-house designed mechanical movements. However, they’re also making a reissue of their first LED watch from the 1970s as a “tribute to the historic quartz crisis” – it’s suitably funky and shows a different side of the French brand’s history and personality.


Although the Nixon Regulus has a negative display, it is still reasonably readable thanks to a large screen and bold font. It comes in several different case finishes and feels a bit retro and a bit modern at the same time – and not too similar to Casio’s oft-imitated design. It also has 100m water resistance and is truly built to take a beating.

As quirky as the Bulova Computron seems from a modern perspective, there was a time when many brands made watches in this style, and Bulova among them. It could be considered a kind of “driver’s watch” because the digital display is located on the side in order to face the wearer when their hands are on a steering wheel. With a steel case available in different finishes, it’s a funky watch for today’s wrists, but also with a certain history.


Seiko x Giugiaro Speed ​​Master

Seiko x Giugiaro Design watches are some of the quirkiest and most interesting timepieces the Japanese brand has made – and that’s saying something. The Speed ​​Master (no relation to Omega) is one of the most overlooked and forgotten models, but it is known to have been worn by legendary driver Ayrton Senna (best known for his relationship with TAG Heuer) – from where the tilted dial for driving (similar lens to the Computron above). Seiko made a faithful limited edition reissue a few years ago that can still be found online with a little research.

Hamilton American Classic PSR Digital Quartz


When it debuted in 1970, the Hamilton Pulsar Time Computer was the first digital LED watch, and it was definitely space age. It has now returned to the brand’s catalog as a retro reissue and renamed “PSR”. What’s coolest is that it’s so well executed, with a brushed finish and solid construction – and it’s also well sized at 40.8mm wide. While the screens of early LED watches like the Pulsar remained dim (much like early generations of the Apple Watch) until illuminated at the touch of a button, the new PSR remains constantly lit and can still be lit in the same way as the original. Pulsars.


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