Digital watches can really create a rift between watch enthusiasts. Quartz watchmaking, after all, nearly killed the mechanical watchmaking industry. Where complex mechanical watches took the back seat, electronic gadgets began making their way into horology. TV-capable watches, video game watches, and a variety of Bond-style watches (sans Rolex) poured out of the 1980s like they were going out of style (which many did). These digitals were moving watches down new avenues, trying to capture new gadgety niches. This wasn’t for everyone. However, one digital watch that’s still quite beloved—born from the quartz/digital revolution—is the Casio Databank. Casio’s calculator watch line is still considered (to many) haute geek couture. However, before it became “fly” to wear one, they were a bit of a nerd’s go-to with less mass appeal. All of this changed when Back to the Future’s Marty McFly rocked one into the past, and then (of course) back to the future.
Casio Databank CA53W Twincept
Just like Marty McFly playing Johnny B. Goode at the school prom, Casio was pretty good at premiering new trends that would have a lasting impact. Released in 1983, their Databank line was one of their earliest gadget watches. It was, in fact, one of the first watches that could store data alongside telling time (Great Scott!)—only being beat to the chase by Pulsar in 1982. Its novelty was well received but it would be two years into the future that the piece would become culturally iconic. Wearing a model CA53W Twincept, Mr. McFly was seen with his now-famous Databand before the film even released—in promotional materials (circa 1985). McFly’s on-screen exploits, including time travel, rock and roll, and getting his parents to fall in love, would all be executed with fashionable flair. Having a cool name and a cool wardrobe gave McFly an 80s look to be remembered. His Casio Databank became part of the “hip to be square” undercurrent in 80s pop culture; It was suddenly cool to wear a calculator around without losing serious clout with the cool kids. As it were, weird science and new gadgets were indicative of the world moving into the future—which inspired the imagination of an entire generation.
Casio Databank watches are now marketed as “retro” through Casio’s own website. With this retro flair in mind, 80s nostalgia show Stranger Things has actually featured a Databank on one of its main characters (Mike Wheeler). Over 30 years after the release of Back to the Future, the Databank still hold a special fascination with its fans—both young and old alike. Engineers, craftsmen, and tradesmen who require quick math can sometimes still be spotted wearing their original Casios from back-in-the-day. But there’s no need to get them used. Casio still sells three different models of the Databank—with varying styles. Their capabilities range from simple calculations to a phonebook and full multilingual calendar. What’s more? Their prices tend to start out around just 20bucks. So, no need to hop in a Delorian and zip back to the 80s to enjoy this nostalgic piece. The popularity of Back to the Future has ensured this piece will stay on the market for many years to come.
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