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Casio’s retro watches recapture the thrill of the 1970s era

Casio was a pioneer in the 1970s, and many of its most iconic watches hail from the decade when every day seemed to bring a new technological miracle.

It could be my age (52) which means my childhood memories include looks of awe at the first digital watches coming out of Casio in the 1970s.

My father was a bit of a geek, and our household was one of the first in my village to own both a ZX81 and a BBC Micro home computer.

Before that, I was one of the first children in my primary school class to strut into the playground on a cold January morning after Christmas sporting the present of a lifetime, a Casio Casiotron which showed the time and date on its liquid crystal display.

I was a legend for at least one day.

An original Casiotron.

Casio was certainly a pioneer in the 1970s, and many of its most iconic watches feel like they hail from that decade when every day seemed to bring a new technological miracle, but really the watchmaker hit its stride in the 1980s with models like the C-80 calculator watch and the CD-40, which had sufficient digital storage for up to 10 telephone numbers; more handy than you might think when directories in telephone boxes had normally been set on fire.

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Original Casio CD-40.

All the way into the 1990s, Casio was keeping its quartz-based digital watches fresh with new shapes, styles and functions, many of which survive to this day.

This, despite the fact that so much of the functionality now looks ridiculously dated in an era of smartwatches and phones with more computational power than the whole of NASA had in the seventies.

With the current trend for reviving historic designs with modern day revival watches, Casio has one of the richest archives of references from the past 50 years from which to draw.

CA-53 Series

Casio’s current CA-53 Calculator watch is a good example. Sure, you do not need a calculator with tiny buttons to press on the front of a digital watch, but it also has an alarm, dual time mode, 1/100th sec stopwatch and an auto calendar, all for under £40.

It comes in a range of colours including green, blue, white and burgundy.

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A100 Series

Even more exciting for fans of seventies styling is Casio’s A100 in core collections and a number of limited editions.

They are modern interpretations of the 1978 F100, which has acquired cult classic status not only for its moment-in-time retro styling but, more significantly among the geekerati, it is the watch that prop-makers for the 1979 Ridley Scott sci-fi movie Alien used to make a futuristic timekeeper for Officer Ellen Ripley, played by the actress Sigourney Weaver.

Unlike the original, which was made from resin, this reissue comes in steel with gold or gunmetal coloured coating for the case and integrated bracelet.

Casio a100

All the functions are handled from four buttons on the front of the watch including a light, daily alarm, stopwatch and calendar.

It has a battery life up to 7 years. Prices range from £49 to £69.

The absolute must-have F100 is a limited edition made in partnership with PAC-Man (another favourite in the Corder household).

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They went on sale for £95 in the summer but sold out almost immediately and are now appearing online for closer to £200, the same sort of mark-up as a Rolex Oyster Perpetual.

A171 Series

Other additions to the Casio vintage line include the A171 Series based on round-faced Casiomatics.

They come in a range of finishes — black, silver and gold — with functions including calendar and stopwatch priced at £40 to £60.

A168 Series

And most iconic of all are modern day Casio A168 watches, which use the classic eight-sided case and integrated bracelet or strap.

The instantly recognisable style is like a blank canvas for watches in every colour imaginable and special editions that elevate them to luxury levels or associate them with other cultural classics.

Prices range from £44 to £64 for core collection models.