The road to the Apple iWatch

As rumours of an Apple smartwatch swirl, we take a look at the tech timepieces that have paved the way for the iWatch

Admit it. Since you watched Dick Tracy talk into his two-way wrist radio you’ve been secretly pining for a real life high-tech equivalent. With the Pebble and rumoured Apple iWatch making smartwatches cool again, we salute the tech timepieces that have paved the way for the next generation of wrist candy.

Casio CMD-40, 1994

Having a calculator on your watch scored you major geek cred back in the 90s – and that was just a number cruncher. Being able to control your goggle box with your watch on the other hand was on a par with a Paul Daniels magic trick – and came in handy if you had trouble finding the remote. And how could we forget the sneaky satisfaction gained from confusing our parents. Like bigger universal remotes, Casio's wrist controller could learn up to 16 commands for TVs, VCRs (remember those?) and cable-converter boxes – and told the time, as one would expect it to.

Dyal Swap Watch, 2008

The Swap Watch may have been a bit chunky, but with good reason – it crammed in a 1.3MP camera, a fully functional phone (via a Bluetooth headset) complete with messaging and a music and video player. Plus it brought something new to the world of techy wrist wear – the ability to take snaps and shoot low-res video from its craftily concealed side-mounted lens for a bit of undercover espionage. It came with a teensy stylus for intricate screen prodding too, but we’re betting anyone who invested in a Swap Watch soon found themselves frantically looking for it down the back of the sofa. Oh, and in case you were wondering, "Swap" stands for smart watch and phone.

LG GD910, 2009

LG’s smart watch was the first 3G-enabled watch phone with a capacitive touchscreen and VGA video calling capabilities – and the first wrist accessory that really allowed you fulfil your James Bond fantasies. But the world wasn't ready to replace their smartphone with a futuristic timepiece straddling their wrist, despite its coming bundled with a Bluetooth headset. Its £500 price tag and licence to kill your savings didn't help. And while it came with call/end and cancel/back buttons to help with navigation, water-resistant credentials, text-to-speech, voice command functionality and 2GB of on-board storage, the GD910 was perhaps a bit too ahead of its time.

Sony Ericsson Live View, 2010

Before Sony ditched the Ericsson brand, it created a small clip-on Bluetooth accessory that worked like a remote control for your smartphone – letting you connect to your Android smartphone for Facebook and Twitter alerts, messages, calendar events and tinkering with your music without taking your smartphone out of your bag. Interestingly, you didn't necessarily need to strap it to your wrist – that was one of several options – which included attaching it to a keychain, laptop or book or a strapping it to your music stand while conducting an orchestra, as demonstrated in the promo shot.

Sony SmartWatch, 2011

The Live View's successor got an elegant makeover and a new name for a revamped remote control experience. It has the same ability to pair up with Android phones via Bluetooth to display notifications and control phone functions –  but it also adds apps to the mix. With the Smart Connect app installed on your device, other compatible apps can be downloaded and accessed on your wrist, including a media player, a remote phone ringer, and Google Maps, all available from Google's Play store. The UI has also been tweaked, letting you pinch to exit, double tap and swipe your way around the phone. There are a few caveats – namely that it doesn't even know the time and barely functions until paired with a phone – but other than the Pebble Smartwatch, there aren’t a lot of decent alternatives for wearable smartphone accessories out there. Yet

You might also like

Is this the Samsung Galaxy S4?

Xi3 Piston Steam-based PC available for pre-order

This pipe-climbing snake robot is adorable