Seiko WristMac: very rare distant ancestor of the Apple Watch up for auction

It is not quite correct to say that the first Apple smartwatch dates back to the years’ 80, but something was actually moving already at the time. To be precise was the 1988, and the Japanese Seiko brought the WristMac to the market . It was a digital watch that used the AppleTalk protocol to connect to a Mac; it didn’t spread much to the consumer level, but it had its moment of notoriety when it was seen on the wrist of the astronauts of the space shuttle Atlantis. The purpose of the STS mission – 43 of 1991 it was precisely to send the first email from Space , via a Macintosh Portable: the WristMac was used for alarm clocks and memo, with customizable descriptive text that could be viewed on the two-line LCD display from characters each.

A unit of this very rare (at least in these conditions) product was discovered in recent times, and ended up at auction. An individual bought it for relatively little change (25 dollars) in a clearance sale of a Mac repair / sales warehouse. It is in near perfect condition : the main box has been opened, but that of the watch has not (and therefore has never been worn); there are also all the accessories, including the floppy disk with the software to allow it to communicate with the Mac, also indistinguishable from the new one. Estimating how much such a product could collect is difficult due to its difficult availability, but it is not impossible to hypothesize among the 25. 000 and 50. 000 dollars . The auction will be held by . Offers start today and end on 18 December.

The watch has serial number 70216. It is also not clear the extent of Apple’s involvement in the project, but it seems very limited: in fact it is a Seiko product that connects to an Apple protocol, which at the time was open and available to third-party partners. The design is clearly light years away from what the Apple accustomed us to, even in those days, and the company’s official logo appears nowhere in the box. The documentation reveals among other things that the watch was made by Seiko and by Ex Machina, a New York company founded by the entrepreneur David S. Rose which has long since disappeared. In fact, the manuals reveal that Ex Machina was the main creator.

Seiko WristMac had RC code name – 4000 . There was a slightly different variant, called RC – 4400, which was larger and is defined as “pocket”. In the following years came the heir RC – 4500, who was called WristTalk. Interestingly, a non-working RC model – 1007736 was sold on eBay in times recent for the equivalent of 136 € approx. There is one for sale now on eBay Italy at 100 €; it works, but there is only the watch – no box, cables and accessories. A little out of the box gift from this Black Friday period?

For those interested in some more information, a good starting point is this nice YouTube video of the Vintage Digital Watches channel, as well as the dedicated page on the Buxton website Collection, designer at Microsoft (link in VIA), which also offers complete scans of the user manual.

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