Introduced in 1978 the DW20 was the first wristwatch produced by Braun. Unfortunately due to the many problems experienced with the LCD module it was only in production for a year before being replaced by the DW30. Just 3,000 silver and 2,000 black examples were produced which are very small quantities for a volume manufacturer.
DW20 LCD MODULE
A fairly standard design for the time the LCD module contained two separate batteries, one for the electronics and one for the light. To protect the display a mineral glass with UV absorbing qualities was set into the case. The small buttons which operate the changeable functions of time/date/month/ seconds and light are positioned on the outer edge of the case opposite each other.
The LCD module caused no end of problems for Braun. The Swiss manufacturers, MSA Modules Electroniques Ltd., were unable to maintain the quality required in mass production and problems with the module began to arise even at the production stage. The German magazine NUZ Schmuck & Uhren wrote in issue 4/1977:
"At Braun they are not denying the fact that there are still problems to overcome regarding the discrepancy between the suppliers' perception of quality and the high standards demanded by Braun themselves. After all, for Braun there's a reputation at stake".
One of the biggest problems with the module was poor battery contact due to the design of the battery clamps. Although fairly easy to correct the volume of watches returned to the factory must have been a nightmare. After the DW30 was introduced in 1978 faulty DW20 watches which were returned were replaced by a DW30. However the DW30 cost a third more so the buyer had to pay the difference.
Braun have been unable to repair or supply spare parts for either the DW20 or DW30 for many years.
DW20 CASE AND STRAP
As some people wear their watch for up to 16 hours a day, or longer, the DW20 watch case was produced in durable aluminium which is a third of the weight of steel. This ensured it was very comfortable for the wearer. As the module, which nestled between the projecting contacts of the function buttons, had a very low build-height the result was a very flat watch.
To achieve the high standard of finish on the case and strap, that Braun required, new technology was utilised. For the black watch, the surfaces were coated with tough titanium oxide. It was applied to the watch parts by flame jets (plasma) forming a layer on the durable aluminium. Because this only toughens at very high temperatures the process was conducted in very small production runs. As a result the finish varies slightly from watch to watch. Some surfaces are very fine and smooth whilst others have a slightly grainier feel and appearance. In addition sometimes the case and strap finishes do not quite match up.
The silver finish was hard matt chrome which was applied by galvanisation again in small production runs. In this process the parts are coated by immersing them into a chrome salt bath and applying an electrical charge. The silver finish was a little more consistent from watch to watch than the black but there were still variations.
These processes were chosen for their hard wearing properties. On the 'Mohs Hardness Scale' which ranges from talcom powder at 1 to diamond at 10 both processes score around 9. For operations such as thread milling or drilling the holes that house the buttons each case had to be inserted into the machines separately.
The screw-on backplate has a rubber seal on the outer edge. Although claimed to be water-resistant to 20m, I wouldn't recommend trying it. If a watch is numbered it is usually found inside the backplate and the numbers may be engraved by hand, machine-stamped or written in felt tip pen. Braun did not use a serial numbering system so these numbers have been made by either the case manufacturers or when later repairs or battery changes were carried out.
The fully adjustable clasp with integral sliding adjuster and removable links should enable the watch to be adjusted to any wrist size. The DW20 originally had 6 links each side of the clasp.