Here’s a really rare piece that most people probably wouldn’t even bother trying to find a battery for if they picked it up in a garage sale lot, or found it in a thrift store box lot for a few dollars.
And it is quite a plain looking calculator watch – there are loads of variations of the black plastic calculator watch with 16 front buttons and none on the side. But this is the best by a long way.
Why? The marker for the day of the week is a small but significant clue. It’s a racing car.
The module inside the watch has the same functionality as the Nelsonic Grand Prix – time, day/date, alarm, calculator and a car racing game!
You’d hope Sanyo make it pretty clear on the packaging that this watch included a game, because there’s nothing on the watch itself to indicate it at all (other than the day of the week marker; and that, to be honest, is a little more like a rocket ship than a car and even then you have to use a bit of imagination to see it).
I’ll post a video sometime showing the game itself but if you look on the Nelsonic Grand Prix page, you’ll see how they used the LCD for the game. The lane markers are the top, middle and bottom lines of the 8’s while the cars themselves are created in the ‘holes’ of the numbers. A small chequered flag in the top left corner to alert you that you are in game mode, and you’re sorted.
Essentially you have to get your car from right to left, avoiding all the other cars. You have three lanes you can jump between. Get to the end and you score 500 points. And you have three lives.
I was amazed when I saw this game in the Nelsonic, but then to find it in the Sanyo was somehow even better. The Sanyo module is far less refined than the Nelsonic. And you can’t remove the cicruitboard, instead of screws holding it in, there are plastic guides which have been melted on top of it. So this has far more of a disposable feel to it which makes it even better than it is still running 30+ years after it rolled off the production line.
I was lucky enough to find two of these (about 18 months apart though) – one had a dodgy circuitboard, the other a bleeding LCD. So between the two of them I have one fully-functioning and very cool watch (plus a few spares from the other).
So it’s worth taking a punt on the generic plastic calculator watches – you might find one with a hidden gem like this one!
Here’s a video of the game in action –
UPDATE: Here’s a picture you won’t see every day – the three amigos!