The 2008 geek gadget gift guide: Nixie Watch

Head back to the 1960s' tech roots with this retro timepiece

Why you must have it: If you remember the 1960s, you'll recall those bulky neon display tubes once used in calculators. The Nixie Watch from Cathode Corner uses those quaint tubes to display the time on a large, not-so-stylish but certainly retro-geeky wristwatch. That's right -- a device for telling the current time that doesn't also make calls, receive messages, or play music. The Nixie Watch is a fashion statement that puts you squarely in the era of the original Star Trek series and the groundbreaking film 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Your chances of having the first one on the block: High. Although the watch has been around since 2005, it's custom-made and not exactly cool in the sense of minimalist, futuristic James Bond, Apple, or Ideo gadget designs. It's definitely retro.

What you must know: The history of the Nixie Watch's development by an engineer who spent four years figuring out how to make it work will appeal to any true geek. Oh, and it's open source -- of course! Just be sure that when you wear it, you're cautious of your surroundings, since its large size is somewhat like wearing a mini satellite dish on your wrist, notes InfoWorld CTO Council member Rob Lux of GMAC.

What you need: The watches cost $405 each and must be ordered from the manufacturer.

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