1987 was a year of turmoil — with the Iran-Contra affair, the Unabomber bombing in Salt Lake City, the Black Monday stock market crash and Terry Waite got kidnapped. On the plus side, it was also the year of the first Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, which we won, and better yet it was the year Citizen released the VX-2 Voicemaster.
While Citizen was a little quieter on the innovation front in the 1980s compared to Casio and Seiko, it still had it’s share of interesting and wow products.
The VX-2 was undoubtedly one of their best though, and could even be (loosely) seen as a predecessor of Siri and Alexa, albeit a far more basic version.
It’s feature set is quite impressive —
It was the world’s first voice-recognition watch and all functions could be operated by voice. Better yet, though, the watch would only respond to the voice of the person who had ‘registered’ their voice with the watch.
It had time, date, alarms (2) and a dual time function, but also had 16 memos that could be individually set and hold up to 12 numeric characters each.
Setting up the watch is no quick job; there are a lot of voice commands you have to input if you want to control everything by voice (although you could get away with six or so if you just wanted to flip between the main functions).
The watch has to be held in quite a precise position too, in order to have voice commands entered without any errors – although helpfully, the watch will show errors after each command it can’t register correctly so you can try again straight away rather than waiting until the end to redo.
Once complete, it’s quite fantastic — especially when you remember to hold the watch ‘just so’ so all the voice commands work. It’s possible time has made the watch a bit more fickle as to how accurate you have to be with the voice, or it may have always been a bit specialised, but in any case, it’s a unique and fascinating timepiece for it’s time.
It’s also very rare, so the chances of finding one — and one in good condition — won’t happen more than once every 5-10 years at best.
On the plus side, Citizen — unlike Casio and Seiko (hint, hint) — still have the original manual available for download. Without it, it would be close to impossible to work out the complicated setting procedure.