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I've been wondering. How hard is it to craft a (digital) watch from scratch?

I'm currently thinking that (with a lot of assumptions) you can buy/import quartz chips or something like that from overseas, and then after putting them on a case, stick them to some circuits, batteries, some LCD display etc.

So yeah, what other considerations could there be, besides manufacturing (cases, straps etc)?

disclaimer: I'm a complete newbie when it comes to electronics, so you probably cringed just by reading that. I'm just curious about this because after trying to shop for a good watch, it seems that there's almost too many choices, and I can't help but wonder how hard is it to get to the watchmaking business.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You might like to study the µWatch project. \$\endgroup\$ – Kevin Reid May 24 '11 at 23:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kevin Reid: I hear Paul Pounds plans to release the design files for his LED Pocketwatch, as µWatch has already done. \$\endgroup\$ – davidcary Jun 19 '11 at 18:15
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The quartz crystal should be the least of your problems. You can find them in miniature dimensions (2mm diameter x 6mm length) at any distributor. You may have some trouble to find the LCD, though. Microcontrollers in small packages are readily available, but they usually don't have enough I/O pins to control the LCD + some buttons. In common watches you'll see that they solved this by bonding the die (with sufficient I/Os) directly to the PCB. Standard components are never used for the battery holder and the push buttons, because they wouldn't fit. Instead, custom made metal metal strips are used.
Frankly I think this will be a difficult to do. If you really want to build a clock I'd suggest to make it a table top clock.

The main difference between you and the watchmakers business is that you want to build 1 (one) watch, while they build them in large quantities, which allows them to use custom components at a low cost.

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Not at all difficult - the most expensive part would be making a nice case. For minimum cost you'd be constrained to a small selection of off-the-shelf LCDs (which also constrains choice of case), but if you;re serious you can get a batch of small custom-design LCDs for something like $1000-2000 for several hundred units including tooling.

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What about the TI Chronos?1 I've considered buying one for its large display, which would be very nerdy but also very practical with my poor eyes. It's relatively inexpensive, too.

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