Style counsel: Clock on to digital

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Simon Gunning is currently doing good business. He is one of those guys who pick up on a retro trend - anything from Charles Eames furniture to vintage denim - and sell it on to the insatiable Japanese at vast profit - and Pulsar watches are his latest money-spinner. Remember them? Chunky gold metal bracelets with a dark window and a couple of tiny buttons. Pressing them would make the time flash up in red for a second.

The first digital watch, using the newly developed Light Emitting Diode (LED), appeared in 1970 from a company called Hamilton. Soon, though, Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) watches with a longer battery life came on the market and Pulsar faded into relative obscurity. But they kept a following and well-known fans today include tailor Ozwald Boateng, Lord Snowdon and optician Tony Gross.

Last year Gunning found 4,000 boxed Pulsar watches. He sold many of them to Paul Smith, Duffer of St George, Neiman Marcus in New York, and Colette in Paris where demand far outstripped supply, and a mainstream trend was born.

Others were quick to jump on the bandwagon. Casio, well known for its digital watches, came up with the Futurist. It has all the features of a traditional digital watch (stopwatch, second timer, alarm) but is nothing like the sports watches that have dominated the market this decade. The Futurist in contrast is slim-line and lightweight. Timex's digital watches are also worth a second look.

Gunning reckons the revival has to do with the end of the millennium. "People want to buy strange 20th-century things," he says. "There are fanatical collectors for almost anything out there." Indeed people are moving on from smelly old trainers to the first mobile phones, original Sony Walkmans, and early computer games such as Pac-Man and Space Invaders.

Now Gunning has been contacted by a big fashion company (he won't say who) who bought some watches for the purposes of "product development". It seems this trend may be only just beginning.

To contact Simon Gunning call 0171 267 7450. To find out more about retro Pulsar watches go to http//ourworld.