If you want a digital watch that doesn’t look like a miniature smartphone on your wrist, there aren’t many fancy options. An alternative to offerings from Timex and Casio is the Girard-Perregaux, who is resurrecting a classic digital design from the 70s in which show the time it almost seems like an afterthought.
The first truly digital watch to use an electronic display and quartz crystal to keep accurate time was the Hamilton Pulsar P2 2900 LED launched in 1972. It helped usher in a new era of watches that was not unlike the pre-iPhone days of smartphones when companies experimented with unique designs in an attempt to find something that consumers would wholeheartedly accept. In 2020, Hamilton released an updated version of the Pulsar P2 2900 LED with a hybrid LCD-OLED display updated that recreated the appearance of the now outdated original screen. Continuing that trend, Girard-Perregaux is doing the same thing with another ’70s-era digital wearable.
The Hamilton Pulsar P2 2900 LED looked more or less like a traditional watch with the moving hands replaced by a digital display. Girard-Perregaux took advantage of the unique watchmaking opportunities offered by electronic innovations at the time and in 1976 created the Casquette with the time on the lower edge of the main body of the watch.
Girard-Perregaux re-releases the Casquette 44 years later as Cap 2.0, and while it has more modern electronics inside, it still sports a lovely lo-fi retro LED display with glowing red digits. As with the original, pressing one of the Casquette 2.0’s buttons displays the time for a couple of seconds, which the company says will provide around two years of battery life with average daily use. But the new version no longer just tells the time and date. The Casquette 2.0 adds the ability to keep track of the time in a second time zone, a chronograph, and a quirky “secret date” feature that automatically displays a specific date once a day for 20 seconds at a specific time to remind you of a special anniversary.
The Casquette 2.0 also features a scratch-resistant case and bracelet made from ceramic combined with grade 5 titanium used for the buttons, case back, and the Girard-Perregaux logo on top. The original Casquette was limited to a run of 8,200 pieces over the two years it was produced, but the new 2.0 version is limited to just 820, priced at $4,700. Expensive yes, but believe it or not, the new edition is already sold out online.