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    

Rolex Gmt Master Ii 40mm Steel Batman 116710 BlnrRolex Gmt Batman Homage Watch10 Ingersoll Us Time Disney Birthday Series Character Watches Dopey Donald DuckVersace Men's Vqn060015 Character Chronograph Black Dial Gold Ip SteelFendi Timepieces Momento Bugs Blue Dial Men's Steel Watch1970's Magic Mountain Theme Park Troll Character Watch By Excelle Elgin In BoxSeiko Black Ceramic Snoopy Peanuts Automatic Diver's Day/date Watch Custom 6309Casio G-shock Green Collection G-6900 Gr3-cr Kermit Limited Edition Lime GreenWomen's Vintage Snoopy Mechanical Hand-wind Watch Work Well Legend Men's 200m Deep Blue Batman Diver Sapphitek Black Dial Ss Watch Vintage Timex Snoopy Wristwatch 1977Timed Snoopy Tennis Watch 1970s Yellow DialSeiko Red Ceramic Snoopy Peanuts Automatic Diver's Day & Date Watch Custom 6309Vintage Hmt Hand-winding Movement India Made Cartoon Character Men's WatchVintage Rouan Woody Woodpecker Watch Automatic Hand Winding Swiss MovementLe Collector Fossil Watch "keebler" 4 Moving Character At 12 Sold " As Is"Authentic Fossil The Flintstones Fred And Dino Watch In Lunchbox 91165018832Vintage Hand-winding Movement No.1950-51 Swiss Made Cartoon Character WatchWatch M&m Character - GreenVintage Star Wars Watch By BradleyVintage Timex Snoopy Watch With Doghouse DisplayMiscellaneous Kids Disney Ariel Pokemon Batman & More Lot Of 20 Watches For FixMiscellaneous Kids Cars Frozen Batman & More Lot Of 20 Watches For FixMiscellaneous Kids Paw Patrol Frozen Star Wars & More Lot Of 20 Watches For FixMiscellaneous Kids Star Wars Batman Pokemon & More Lot Of 20 Watches For FixVintage 1939 Gruen Curvex 14k Wristwatch Tom Mix Western Cowboy Movie Star RunsMiscellaneous Kids Star Wars Chewbacca Yoda & More Lot Of 16 Watches For FixMiscellaneous Kids Star War Batman Superman & More Lot Of 20 Watches For FixMiscellaneous Kids Star War Batman Transformers & More Lot Of 20 Watches For FixVintage Gene Autry Watch 1948 “always Your Pal” Original Wrist Band, CowboyMiscellaneous Kids Star Wars Pokemon Marvel & More Lot Of 17 Watches For FixMens Fossil Silver Big Tic Surfer Character Face Quartz Watch Jr 8286Miscellaneous Adult Watches Star Wars Disney & More Muppets Lot Of 13 For FixMens Fossil Silver Big Tic Rolling Number Character Face Quartz Watch Jr 8096Tigger Walt Disney Character Watch Quartz Women's Muo858 Analog Cartoon 7" LongVintage Hologram Watch Looney Tunes Taz Watch W Tin Scrunch Ball 3d FantasmaWatch Lot. Disney, Looney Tunes And More!Vintage Lorus Quartz Kermit The Frog Muppets Watch Nip UnwornVintage Timex Cinderella Watch Mechanical Wind Up W/expansion Band Repair PartsWalt Disney Cinderella 45th Anniversary Quartz Watch (e38)Vintage 50th Anniversary Armitron Bugs Bunny Watch W/ Gold FaceVintage Armitron Looney Tunes Bugs Bunny Face Watch Nip