In 1978 Braun issued the digital DW30 watch with a groundbreaking style departure designed by Dieter Rams and Dietrich Lubs. Retired in 1981, only 8,500 were made (4,500 first edition and 4,000 second edition), and most were sold in Germany. There were 200 black case watches also made, which are now highly collectible. I was lucky enough to find one of the originals years ago, and left it tucked away in storage until I picked up the reissued and renamed BN0076.
The beauty of the DW30 is its simplicity. Most digital watches of the era were much larger, and many required the wearer to push a button (always on the side of the case) to see the LCD display. With the DW30 though, the display is always on and a push of the right button switches from the time to the date, and then the seconds. The left button lights up the display. The minimal leather watch-band attaches directly to the front of the case and screws from the back to secure. It’s a clean and simple design that still resonates today as it did then.
Nearly identical, there are a few ways to tell the older and new versions apart. The frame around the LCD module in the original is black, but it’s silver in the reissue. The Braun logo is larger on the new version, and Frearson screws hold the DW30 case and band together, while the BN0076 has smaller, slotted screws. The backlight in the original is white, and has been replaced by an orange LED bulb in the reissue.
The BN0076 measures 42mm diameter—a great alternative to a lot of the jumbo watches we see too often—and has a stainless steel case with a leather strap. You can find a DW30 for around $1,000 if you’re lucky, or you can pick up the BN0076 for $250. Sure, you can find a watch with similar function for around $10, but if you want to rock one of Rams’ classic designs, it’s worth the investment.
Photos by Greg Stefano