The Fascinating History of Calculator Watches

Watches are timeless accessories that are worn by millions of people around the world. Not only are watches fashionable, but they are also quite functional, especially for people who are busy almost every day and would always want to know the time.

While watches are very popular, not a lot of people know about a particular variant of watches that have a built-in calculator. These calculator watches are very useful for bankers, accountants, and mathematicians who want to get calculations done without the need to pull out their trusty calculators. To know more, here is the fascinating history of calculator watches.

The First Calculator Watches

broken calculator watch

The first calculator watches were introduced in the mid-1970s by a brand called Pulsar, which was created by the Hamilton Watch Company, a Swiss manufacturer of wristwatches that was founded in 1892. Pulsar is a brand that focuses on LED watches, and it was even the first brand to market and sell an all-electronic digital watch that uses LEDs (light-emitting diodes). Besides Pulsar, Hewlett-Packard or HP (a company more known today for producing desktop computers and laptops) also made calculator watches in the 1970s.

The most notable calculator watch that came out of the 1970s was the Pulsar Time Computer Calculator 901, which featured an LED screen on top and a keypad that is accompanied by function keys that allow the wearer to add, multiply, subtract, and divide the numbers they input. This particular calculator watch was released in 1975. Unfortunately, the Pulsar Time calculator watches were quite expensive when they were released, as they were sold for $4,000. [1]

Casio’s Databank Calculator Watches

Casio calculator watch

Casio, a Japanese electronics company that was founded in 1946, was arguably the one that produced the widest variety of calculator watches in the 1980s and 1990s. Casio developed and manufactured calculator watches under the Databank brand, which was created in the 1980s so that Casio could separate its line of calculator watches from the other watches that it offers.

The first calculator watches that carried the Databank branding were the CD-40 and the CD-401, and these two products were released in 1983. While Pulsar is responsible for making the first digital watches, it is Casio who made these accessories much more accessible in the 1980s.

What’s interesting about the Databank line of calculator watches is that they have memory storage for storing names, addresses, phone numbers, and even appointments. The calculator watches by Casio would receive further improvements, with some watches having electroluminescent backlights, touch screens, voice recording capabilities, and phone dialers.

One of the most popular models of calculator watches made by Casio under the Databank brand is the Casio CA53W Twincept Databank “Calculator Watch,” which became known by many people around the world for being the watch worn by Marty McFly, a character portrayed by Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future, a sci-fi movie directed by Robert Zemeckis and released in 1985. [2]

In addition to having a built-in calculator, the Twincept Databank digital watch included additional features like an alarm, a stopwatch, and time zones. This specific calculator watch would also appear in a popular TV show called Breaking Bad. This TV series first aired in 2008 and has Bryan Cranston playing the lead role of Walter White, a high-school chemistry teacher who was diagnosed with lung cancer and turned to a life of crime as a drug dealer in order to get his family financial security before he leaves the world. Walter White would often be seen wearing the Twincept Databank calculator watch by Casio.

The Decline of the Calculator Watch

By the mid-1990s, calculator watches declined in terms of sales and popularity. The decline of the calculator watch is mostly attributed to the rise of affordable mobile phones, which had almost the same features as calculator watches. In the late 1990s, many watch brands that previously manufactured calculator watches either stopped producing the said products or limited the number of calculator watches they produced every year.

The Calculator Watch’s Cult Following

classic calculator watch

Even though calculator watches aren’t popular anymore, there is no denying that they had a significant impact on the world of technology, as these watches made many tech companies realize how important small features like stopwatches, alarms, and clocks are for the gadgets that they manufacture. Interestingly, the concept of the calculator watch evolved into the smartwatch, which has almost the same features as the calculator watch but is much more advanced when it comes to components.

Fortunately, because of how popular Back to the Future is, and also due to how Marty McFly extensively used the Casio calculator watch in the film, calculator watches gained a cult following and a certain nostalgia factor. The nostalgia for the calculator watches allowed Casio to still manufacture Databank watches after the 1990s. Here are a few of the most popular Casio calculator watches that you can buy online:

  • Casio Vintage CA-53W-1CR Calculator Watch – the classic watch that was used by Marty McFly in Back to the Future. This reissue version of the CA-53W-1CR still has the same features as the original version, so you would feel like you are back in the 1980s when you wear and use this watch.
  • Casio Silver Tone 25 Calculator Databank Watch – this luxurious-looking calculator watch features a water-resistant casing so that it won’t get damaged whenever you are wearing it while it is raining. It also has an Auto-Light switch and Afterglow so that you can check the time and your calculations even if it is dark. This calculator watch is available in silver-colored or gold-colored stainless steel.
  • Casio CA-53WF-3B Green Calculator Watch – this particular watch features the same design as the classic CA-53W watch. However, this model sports a dark green or olive color that pops out more than the classic black color of the original.
  • Casio DBC-32D Calculator Watch – the DBC-32D calculator watch from Casio features a slightly bigger design compared to the CA-53W, and this bigger size would make the calculator and the watch much more noticeable on one of your wrists. This watch has a stainless-steel gray or silver band that makes it look like a luxury watch.
  • Casio CA-506-1UW Calculator Watch – in contrast to the DBC-32D, the CA-506-1UW calculator watch features a much narrower design that is more suitable for people with thinner wrists. But similar to the previous watch, this model features a gray or silver band for an elegant appearance.


While calculator watches aren’t as popular today compared to the 1980s, some of the oldest calculator watches have high resale value because of how they have become collector’s items for those who have fond memories of the watches or for those who are just avid watch collectors. Fortunately, if you are feeling nostalgic for calculator watches, you can still buy a few of the classic ones that are reissued by Casio.


[1] Baguley, R. (2013, September 20). The Gadget We Miss: The Calculator Watch. Gizmodo. Retrieved November 9, 2023, from

[2] Bernardo, M. (2023, August). 21 Movie Watches Spotted on the Big Screen, from 1961 to Now. Teddy Baldassarre. Retrieved November 9, 2023, from