David Hasselhoff is an iconic figure in popular culture. Whether he’s singing pop songs in German, running in slow motion on a beach, or interfacing with futuristic technology, all of his roles have taken on a cult-like status. While he may sport a timepiece in virtually all of his acting gigs, one futuristic piece of wrist-tech co-stars with him in Knight Rider. That’s right, long before smartwatches—in the days of VHS tape rentals and zero TV binge-watching—one man and his artificially intelligent Trans-Am (KITT) were taking on crime one bad guy at a time. While crime fighting might have a few other more famous watches in its roster (Dick Tracy comes to mind), this particular show’s technology had a uniquely 80s flair on futuristic wrist-bound style.
KITT and the Wristwatch Interface
Hasselhoff’s wristwatch was actually based off of AM radio watches of the era. Remote controls were still a fairly new technology and the possibilities became endless in science fiction. In Knight Rider, whenever Michael Knight (Hasselhoff) was away from KITT, he could remotely send data to his reliable AI companion. This included taking pictures from his wrist and making full area scans for analysis. Whether Knight was behind the wheel or involved in on-foot reconnaissance—his watch was fundamentally tied to his interface with his Trans-Am partner.
80s Flair Reprised
Shows like Knight Rider, with their stylized gadgets and synthesizer soundtracks, have inspired a new wave of aesthetics in modern culture. Wristwatches are no exception to these trends. Vaporwave, synthwave, and general 80s throwbacks of today have callbacks to some of the best the 1980s had to offer. Popular surf watch brand Freestyle has made a big comeback in recent years, as well as the calculator watch (once of Back to the Future fame). What’s more, the neon noir and pulp fiction of shows like Knight Rider have influenced a new generation of artists of all kinds. Anyone searching for “80s watches” on Etsy could tell you that this roaring decade of big hair and big lifestyles still lives to this day. Synthesizer music, mullets, denim, leather, fast cars, and retro visions of the future can all be found in modern fashion.
A Greater Story
While some of us here at TimesTicking are children of the 80s (and further back) we also employ plenty of younger folks. There’s common ground here when discussing how culture surrounding watches has evolved from years prior. Even after a quartz revolution/crisis in watchmaking (through the 70s and 80s), mechanical movements have made their own comeback(s). More than nostalgia, many iconic watchmakers and timepieces have survived into the new millennium—regardless of variations in style/make. Michael Knight’s watch was just another piece of the mosaic regarding the greater history of watchmaking. Within the framework of modern trends, techy gadgets from the 80s are no longer potential replacements for the oldest traditions in horology. Indeed, in today’s terms one is able to curate any collection to their tastes—including watches that can communicate with their latest car (via bluetooth (no area scans, yet)). With classic timepieces in mind we look to the future of watchmaking ourselves, no matter where it drives us all next.
Times Ticking has been in operation for more than 30 years, since 1982. We have performed watch repair for customers both locally and internationally. If it Ticks! We KNOW it! Our team of watch repair technicians have a combined experience in watchmaking of over 120 years.