Dreams Of A Calculator Watch

Calculator Watch Casio Watercolor Illustration

For our prompt of “Buttons” today, my mind went to something Philippe and I had inexplicably been discussing recently. This is, of course, a wonder of technology that really hit its stride in the 80’s. Every nerd like me just had to have one. Why would anyone want a watch that was only capable of telling time, after all? Casio is certainly the company that made the calculator watch popular by offering an endless array of various styles. And since this was a time when technology was slow enough to still wow us every now and again, these watches seemed rather amazing. Of course, actually using one and understanding all of the functions took a bit of time. Besides the added buttons for the calculator itself, there were other extra buttons on the sides. These were labeled with letters in the the manual, but once on one’s wrist it was just a test of memory. What I love is that these are still available today. It’s no surprise really. In a world of touchscreen blocks, these are much more interesting objects. Philippe and I were looking at the latest varieties and considered getting one, but failed to make a purchase. Instead, I figured I’d just honor this tech marvel in a little doodlewash.

I’ve always been a big geek when it comes to technology. It’s amazing what’s possible today that seemed so impossible just a decade before this. Though I had a calculator watch, I wasn’t particularly into math so it was really just for all of the buttons. It felt like I was wearing something that could do even more than the manual boasted, like some cool gadget worn by James Bond. In the end, of course, I couldn’t take down a criminal mastermind with this particular watch, unless a simple math equation was the only way to diffuse a bomb of some kind. No, instead, I did what all the other kids did and typed things in numbers that turned into words when viewed upside down. These was endless fun. I would start with the usual “07734,” which magically transforms into “hello.” Though most boys my age weren’t content with this one and would continually type “58008,” because it spelled “boobs,” and then giggle triumphantly as it they were the first to ever figure that one out. For my own part, I found that could actually create something a bit more personal by typing the number 5073145.0, which, when viewed upside down, becomes “O’Shields,” complete with apostrophe.

These little hacks were so much fun, but today, you can just talk into a phone and have it give you an answer in return. There’s not as much to hack when the technology is advanced enough to do everything you imagined and more. And indeed, there’s not even a need to press or even have a button in many cases. But, I miss the fun of the early digital days. There was no secret as to what your incredible piece of technology could or couldn’t do as it was clearly visible by the number of buttons present. Sadly, I don’t still have the watch that I had when I was younger. Like many prized possessions, they stop being a prize at some point, get lost over time, and simply become a wistful memory. Yet, as the world lurches forward with new technologies, I’ll always have a soft spot for the first ones that shaped the world we know today. And as technology leaps too quickly to impress us anymore, these objects will always hold their allure. I’m still excited to see what fabulous new technology will arrive next, but whatever happens, it’s unlikely to ever dull the lovely glow that can be found in my dreams of a calculator watch.

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Yellow Ochre, Vermilion, Cobalt Turquoise, Indigo, Terra Cotta and Cobalt Blue. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with black ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
Calculator Watch Casio Watercolor Illustration Sketchbook Detail
Recommended5 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
30 Comments
  1. Mary Roff 2 months ago

    Wow! Beautiful painting of that watch!!

  2. Karen Fortier 2 months ago

    You do an amazing job painting metal and glass Charlie, great watch! I’m afraid I don’t remember that watch. I do remember everyone needing a Taxas Instrument calculator but then again I have a few years on you.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Karen! 😃💕hehe…totally remember Texas Instruments this watch was at its peak in the 80’s, but I’m totally shocked it’s still sold today!

  3. Sandra Strait 2 months ago

    I remember reading a sci-fi short story once where the POV character was warning everyone not to buy watches that had built-in calculators because they would keep people from learning. A year or two later, the watches kept getting more advances until they were so large that they strapped on like backpacks and everyone was bent over carrying the weight. Of course, they ended up taking over, wiring into the brain. I’ve never been able to find the story (and I’ve looked) and I wish I could because …dang…talk about predicting the future!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Oh wow! That sounds like an awesome story indeed! 😉 Watching people staring at their smartphone instead of proceeding through a stoplight while driving is proof enough that the machines have already wired into brains. hehe

  4. Anna 2 months ago

    Who knew that those amazing things from the 80s will evolve even more- player into a Walkman, and then mp3, Casio watch into an Iwatch…in Soviet Union, where I lived, those things were super prized, and because my dad brought them for us kids from japan, we were the coolest kids on the block!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Aww that’s awesome, Anna! 😃💕 Yay to being the cool kids and having the latest technology. Yeah, we’ve come a long way since these watches and things keep right on changing.

  5. Robert J. Coleman 2 months ago

    Casio always had the step ahead of most other consumer-priced watches, with all sorts of systems that helped predict the tides for saltwater fishing, phases of the moon for freshwater fishing, and my current favorite, the world’s time zones for ham radio use. Plus they all make super subjects for a doodle!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Hehe! So true, Bob! 😃💕 Yeah, I had a Casio keyboard for music that I prized as well. They had a knack for understanding the long tail which is precisely why they are still around today, when that’s the only thing that exists anymore. 😉

  6. Bonnie Ottaviani 2 months ago

    What an awesome watch Charlie – your sketches are so inspiring. I too love the tech stuff. I remember a prized mini tape recorder that my aunt gave to me in the 70’s – it fit in the palm of my hand and I thought it was just the coolest device ever.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Bonnie! 😃💕 hehe… love that story. I have the same memories. The first moment that this high-tech stuff could fit in the palm of a hand. So cool!

  7. Lisa 2 months ago

    A plain old analog, super-thin watch with the date on it, was the watch of my dreams. Since college I wore a watch every day of my life. Joe bought me my slim watch a few years before I quit working. Good thing too because I took it off and never wore it again after I retired. It is a lovely, expensive timepiece, and if time meant more to me, I’d wear it, but that ship has sailed. 😁

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Yay to that ship sailing… so nice to not worry about time anymore! I admit to worrying less than I should since I’m not yet retired, but it’s never something to obsess over at any rate! 😉 hehe

  8. Lisa Ann Ulibarri 2 months ago

    What a “fantabulous” watch!!! LOL I recall doing all that stuff with the calculators too. We just thought it was so funny 🙂

  9. Sharon Nolfi 2 months ago

    What a cool watch! You did an amazing job painting all the detail and the metal wristband.

  10. Loan Anh Pham 2 months ago

    It’s gorgeous watch. I love the watch shape. I’m dreaming of a dive computer watch with that shape 😍

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Loan! 😃💕 Oh, that sounds like a lovely dream indeed!

  11. Laurence 2 months ago

    You always make me laugh with your incredible stories !! I adore ! by the way you give me opportunity to learn some more English words I ‘ve never used or even knew !! I like in particular wistful (lurch is a another one !!)with at least 3 or 4 meanings in French but nostalgique and mélancolique are the beautiful ones I think to translate. Thanks for sharing your stories Charlie. Have a nice Sunday !

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Merci beaucoup, Laurence! 😃💕 So happy you enjoy my stories! And so true… not everything translates easily in French and French is indeed a bit more of a nuanced language. Particularly with pronunciation… hihi… which is why I still struggle to communicate when I’m in Paris each year! 😊

  12. Jerson Antao 2 months ago

    Nice painting Charlie. I too had this type of watch. Only Casio made this famous.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks, Jerson! 😃💕 Yeah, Casio really made this a bit of history for sure!

  13. Fatima Chamkha 2 months ago

    Amazing painting of a quartz watch!!

  14. LoriCtoo 2 months ago

    Well that is one impressive watch! In more ways than one. I don’t remember those back in the days. Today’s watch like gizmos are too small to read for me, or let alone push buttons! Lol

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks, Lori! 😃💕 hehe… yeah, I was a total nerd so a calculator on my wrist was just the coolest thing ever! lol

  15. Jacob 2 months ago

    Cool! I remember my brother’s friend having one very similar to this, and, such was my interest in timepieces, I used to grab him by the arm and fiddle with his watch. Poor guy! My brother himself also had a Casio watch with a cool blue backlight. Such fancy wristwatch action in the 90s, but indeed, we’ve come a long way since then!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Glad you liked this, Jacob! 😃💕 Yeah, these were simply the coolest. And the blue backlight!! YES! That was like a revelation! lol True, we’ve come a long way, but I still have a penchant for these early objects of interest!

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