I assumed there was very little I couldn’t do with my Apple Watch given it has its own well-stocked app store, but Nick Bild has shown me the error of my ways with this delightful Commodore 64-themed C64 Watch that not only has a retro-inspired watch face but a built-in BASIC interpreter too for coding on the go.
Bild’s C64 Watch looks as polished as the myriad of other smartwatches currently on the market, but that’s because instead of starting from scratch and building all of the hardware components themselves, they started with a Lilygo TTGO T-Watch 2020: a capable but affordable wearable you can buy from Tindie for about $US45 ($58). After a year, Bild realised the watch had gone mostly unused due to a lack of appealing software, so they took it upon themselves to make it the perfect wearable, and the C64 Watch was born.
A custom watch face emulates the Commodore 64’s classic home screen, with the time displayed in large letters using a matching pixelated font. It’s basic, but in more ways than one because the C64 Watch also includes a built-in BASIC interpreter: a modified version of TinyBasic Plus. Coding can be done right on the watch itself using its incredibly tiny on-screen keyboard, but according to Bild it’s an awful experience. As a workaround, the watch can be connected to a computer using a USB sync cable, as demonstrated in the video above, allowing its BASIC interpreter to be used with a proper, full-sized keyboard.
Bild has provided all the source files for their C64 Watch for download through GitHub, but you’ll need to provide the watch hardware yourself. In its current form, it will probably only appeal to die-hard fans who grew up or cut their coding teeth on the vintage computer, but Bild is contemplating adding more features eventually, including adding an emulator to actually play C64 games on the watch and making it interface with a computer over Wi-Fi so the USB sync cable can be ditched.