When the Commodore 64 was in its prime, the smartest a watch got was complementing your cufflinks. While David Hasselhoff sported a watch that communicated with his car, the rest of us were content with calculator watches, game watches, and chiptune alarms.
30 years later and it still isn’t possible to have a chat with your car over a watch (or otherwise). But in the era of smartwatches it was only a matter of time before one received some retro-inspired attention. Nick Bild is a developer who has taken on the challenge. Using the programmable Lilygo TTGO T-Watch 2020 from Tindie, Bild has created a C64-inspired watch face with a BASIC interpreter.
I’ve had a T-Watch 2020 for about a year and haven’t found any pre-built software for it that appeals to me, so it has mostly gone unused. I recently took the time to build the software that I want for the watch so that I can start wearing it daily, and the result is C64 Watch.
It has a C64 theme and an authentic-looking font. There is a BASIC interpreter that runs on-device. It is a version of TinyBasic Plus that I modified to work on the T-Watch. Initially, I built it with a slide-out on-screen keyboard, but it was such an awful experience with the tiny screen, that I decided to interact with it via a serial terminal. By plugging the watch into a computer via USB and firing up a terminal, then tapping on the
BASICmenu option, you can interact with the interpreter in real time.
Bild has plans for more features later on, including an emulator for playing C64 games on his wrist. Dropping the USB cable in favour of Wi-Fi via a web page is also on the cards. Fancy trying it out or even contributing? If you own T-Watch 2020, everything you need for your own C64 Watch can be found on GitHub.
Gaming since 1984, retro gaming since 2004. Contributes to Linux Format magazine and MakeUseOf.com.