While many of the earliest wristwatches included decorations on their faces, what we now know as the character watch was a uniquely 20th-century invention. Generally featuring cartoon characters, these watches were produced to capitalize on franchises from comics, films, and television.

The first watch to feature a cartoon character was a pocket watch designed in 1908 by Ingersoll, which depicted the Buster Brown comic strip character promoting Blue Ribbon Shoes. Most character watches followed in this format, incorporating a static painted face plate mounted behind a normal-looking mechanism, though their design was trumped in 1933 by the animated style of the Ingersoll-Waterbury Mickey Mouse watch. These watches depicted Mickey’s yellow-gloved fingers rotating on wiry black arms, and resulted in the most successful character watch ever.

Even so, their animated quality was soon outdone by the New Haven company with its 1934 Popeye watches, whose entire hands were shaped like the tattooed sailor’s arms, making Popeye seem to flail about in mid-stride. Around the same time, New Haven also released watches featuring the likenesses of other kid-favorites, like Superman, the Lone Ranger, Dick Tracy, Little Orphan Annie, and Smitty. Ingraham jumped in with Betty Boop and Buck Rogers, and the industry continued to boom until factory restrictions were imposed during World War II.

During the decades following the war, the character watch reached its height of popularity. The Mickey watch again secured its position as every child’s favorite—by 1957, around 25 million Mickey Mouse watches had been sold. To make the most of this demand, Disney expanded its line to include other recognizable stars like Jiminy Cricket, Davy Crockett, Snow White, and Donald Duck. During the 1950s, the explosion of Western-themed popular culture also meant a boom in cowboy character watches, showcasing illustrations of performers like Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, and Dale Evans.

By the ’70s, the genre had expanded such that even politicians like Richard Nixon were given their own timepieces, though their caricatured portraits were not always flattering. Throughout the ’70s and ’80s, many newer companies, including Dabs & Co., Picco, and Bradley, joined the game with Star Wars, superhero, Peanuts, or Looney Tunes-themed watches. A few of these created comical illusions, like the ’70s Snoopy watches whose arm-shaped minute hand holds a tennis racket while the seconds are ticked off by a flying tennis ball.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

National Watch and Clock Museum

National Watch and Clock Museum

This virtual museum, created by the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, lets you stroll through tim… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Casio G-shock G-6900gr Gr-3 Limited Edition Go-green Kermit ToughsolarCasio G-shock G-7100 Cal 2821 Silver Case 315 Character Memory Stainless EdataWarner Bros Exclusive Fossil Black And Gold Batman Mens Watch Gents Peanuts Snoopy Divers Style Quartz Watch Vintage Rare Pink Us Watch Co Timex Cinderella Manual Watch; Works Good Rare 1993 Character Time Marvel Comic X-men #1 Cover Wristwatch Ap Jet Case MibLot 3x Character Quartz Watches Garfield Sylvester And Tweety Lionel Train Ladies Lorus Disney Minnie Mouse Character Animated Hands Watch, Nr Mint, NrRare Collection Diesel Chronograph Watch Batman The Dark Knight1 Popeye 75th Anniversary Quartz Watch. Untested. No ReserveLot Of 3 Quartz Watches.cat In The Hat. Garfield+disneys 50th Anniv. Untested.nrZeon James Bond 007 Lcd Quartz Melody Alarm Wrist Watch Chrono Rare Character X Looney Tunes Armitron WatchMens Authentic Dc Comics Batman WatchVintage Disney Snow White Cinderella Timex WatchDisney Watch Alice In Wonderland Vintage Wind Up Working Great' Snoopy - 1958 United Feature Synd.inc.vintage Wrist Watch.mech.hand Wind. L@@kFossil Batman Watch 1989Girl's Vintage Us Time 1940's Alice In Wonderland Wind-up Watch W/ Leather Band30pcs Lots 3d Tweety-bird Children Cartoon WristwatchVintage Disney Cinderella Windup Wristwatch Women's Armitron Snoopy White Dial Watch Moving Hands Black BandArmitron Warner Brothers Tweety & Sylvester Musical Watch Plays Merry MelodiesNice Vintage Disney Character Watch ---working Lot Of 3 Collectible Character Watches Cinderella , Tinker Bell & Winnie Pooh3 Tweety Bird Watches For Collection Or KidsThe Great Muppet Caper Green Character Band Digital Collector's WatchStar Wars WatchCasual Outfitters Solid Genuine Leather Cowboy HatSnoopy & Charlie Browx Quartz WatchArmitron Pussyfoot Precious Looney Tunes Bracelet Watch Ladies Womens Two ToneTimex Us Time Vintage Retro Disney Snowhite And Cinderella WatchesVintage Timex Cinderella Wristwatch Newest Cool Unisex Large Character Retro Quartz Watch Leathroid Band Wristwatch