He who hesitates is lost. That was me before I found my way into ownership of a vintage Spaceview. It took way too long for me to see the light…or hear the hum, rather. Of course I knew the Spaceview existed- I’m an EE for shit’s sake! But I hesitated. I thought it would be too large to actually wear on my wrist. Manly. Chunky. Totally unfeminine. I bought it anyway and took a chance. Why did it take so long? I had to sell my car first. No, the watch isn’t that expensive. Neither was my car. But I loved the car and when it came time to sell it, it had to be commemorated in a special way. The Buick Reatta was another, one of a kind electrical engineering victory. It only seemed fitting to finally get the Spaceview. The tuning fork mechanism was developed in the 1960s and the Spaceview model was really just a sales aid to show potential watch customers this new mechanism that hummed instead of ticked. They didn’t expect people would want to buy the see-through watch model and Bulova ended up selling a ton of these in the 60s and 70s. Now a classic with a big following, the Spaceview is a sound investment. There are a few, but dedicated persons who will completely service, restore, revamp this particular watch. You can get one in excellent condition for under $500 right now, and you can pretty much pick and choose which style Spaceview you want. I opted for the bow-tie model in stainless. The best part is the tuning fork with the big,bulky magnets at the top. The mechanism hums at 360 Hz as it smoothly sweeps the second hand around the dial. I would love to see the difference between the Spaceview’s sweep hand and that of the Seiko Ananta‘s spring drive. It’d either be like dueling banjos or John Henry. I’m betting on the guy with the hammer.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Bulova announced a 1000 piece re-introduction of the Spaceview at BaselWorld last month.
Pillsbury has had several promotional campaigns over the years. In 1999, the selection of items you could send away for after collecting Doughboy points was pretty motley. A football, stadium blanket, book bag and even wallpaper! One such gem was the Doughboy Millennium Countdown watch. This was no ordinary promo- this large watch features both the analog display with the Doughboy on the face and a digital display for both the time and a countdown feature. It has an alarm, stopwatch and the programmable countdown timer. I’m not saying you can switch this guy out for your Breitling Aerospace but it does have more functions than your average mail order promo. The real story here is that something great happened that year with the feared Y2K conversion- the Pillsbury folks had a glitch in their order fulfillment center. The system got “stuck” on my address and started sending me all the merchandise from every order placed after mine. Of course I called after I had received a couple days worth of bounty, but it still took another week for the already sent mail to make it to my house. Pillsbury apologized (?!) for the inconvenience and told me to keep the stuff. Merry Christmas to me! I got three cast iron banks…a ball cap…a cookbook…5 Christmas ornaments…a jacket…a school bus…wallpaper…
This is another one of my favorite watches, style-wise. It was a promotional item commemorating Donald Duck’s 50th birthday, available from Donald Duck Orange Juice in 1984. The style is what makes this watch. It has the typical Bradley style of the timeframe with the round, metal case and digital display. The colors and Donald Duck perched at the top of the digital display are perfect. Interesting that it doesn’t say anything about the product. If I had two of these I would wear this watch. That says a lot about this piece. It also makes my Corum jealous.
This is perhaps the best of the best of mail order promotional watches. Tic tac had a promotion where you needed to collect points from the back of their packages. They showed a picture of the watch on the mail order form, but didn’t show the nice tin it would arrive in. Watches in cool packaging like tins, boxes and plastic shapes hold far more value for the collector. That’s not the only reason why this is the best mail order promo, the watch itself is really pretty cool. The band is a bright, kelly green plastic that’s stuffed and then stitched, just like a leather band. The case and buckle are brushed aluminum, while the face bears reverse embossed numbers and tic tac logo. Lastly, the crown is at the 4 o’clock position, making it more refined than your typical mail order promo. This is one of the watches in my collection that I constantly take out and look at. They only offered it in this color and for a short period of time in the late 90s. I have all the original packaging for this one, and I also picked up another one recently from a collector, so now I have two. Attention to detail is what makes this watch valuable. I opened it up to take a peek at the movement and guess what…even thought it’s quartz, the movement case is all metal instead of the typical black plastic. Now that’s just going above and beyond to impress.
If you find a mail order promotion, try to get more than one. The promotion will be short-lived and the watch will only increase in value. You can’t buy this watch. I did find you a watch that will store your tic tacs, though. How’s this Freestyle Men’s lockdown hidden compartment watch?
A Rolex is still a Rolex even when you add the word McDonald’s or Maytag on the face. But you have to admit you feel like you’re staring at a church or something sacred that someone graffitied. Okay. Not only is this not a Rolex, it’s not even a Lorus. It is, however, a watch manufacturer you’ve heard of before. I found this on eBay and had to have it. Or rescue it. I can’t say I’ve seen any other Cheez-it watch out there. I have a special fascination for advertising watches that are from a name brand watch manufacturer. That’s probably why I bought it. Cheap, little Cheez-its found their way to the big time.
This was the original or first macaroni and cheese promotional wristwatch. In the late 80’s, Kraft had a promotion for this wristwatch in exchange for 3 UPC symbols from the back of the box. I love this watch because of the shape. It’s long and rectangular just like a box of mac & cheese. I also like that they had a nice image on the face of the watch and kept true to the colors of the product. The only thing I cannot figure out is how to change the battery. There are no physical indications on the back of the watch for opening the case. The only think I can guess is that you go in from the face or you simply don’t ever change the battery. I’m not about to mar the watch just to get to the battery so the three I have will stay non-working. There was a second wristwatch promotion that came out a few years later, but the watch is no where near as interesting.
Back before the days of Google and eBay, I would spend hours thinking of products, going to their website and checking for paraphenelia. This was the only way I knew to find advertising and promotional wristwatches. Once in a while, I would get lucky. This is one of the first watches I found by scouring product manufacturer’s websites. This is the 75th Anniversary of Land O’ Lakes commemorative wristwatch. It was available with a black or brown leather strap directly from the website. I think I paid $50 or more for this, which was a little steep in 1996. They used the original advertising artwork of the Indian maiden on the face of the watch and on the cardboard box. It also came with a booklet describing the brand and the original advertisement. I was impressed by the quality of the watch and the detail in the booklet. This watch stands out from other advertising watches of the same timeframe because it was not a cheap, plastic Swatch knock-off with a logo stamped on the dial. I’m sorry, Tony’s Pizza watch...you know it’s true.
I got this from my friend Melinda. She worked at HIghlights and won this in a contest. Tommy’s hands mark the hour and minutes and his dog rotates around on the seconds disc. The band is green canvas weave with leather and the watch is quartz. I don’t really know how old this is but I would guess mid to late 1990s. It’s in perfect condition. There are a few on eBay every so often for about $40. If your looking for something like this, try a Paul Frank instead. Equally colorful but admitedly, not as nostalgic.
It’s hard to believe, but the prizes in cereal boxes used to be better. This is one of the good ones from 20 years ago. It might seem like an easy catch- buy the cereal and you’re guaranteed the watch, right? Not so easy in my household. Cereal was either bran flakes, cornflakes or puffed rice. I must’ve been a good whiner because I was able to convince my parents to buy the sugar stuff on this occasion. A classic 80’s children’s watch style was the one piece plastic band and case combo, with a bezel-like plastic ring to hold the face and digital works. The Honeycomb promotional wristwatch came in three colors: red, blue and yellow. I got the blue one in the box and this red one on eBay, years later. Honeycomb did another wristwatch promotion in the 90’s with a slightly more up to date plastic design. I’m thinking they’re due for another one this decade. As cool as I thought the Honeycomb watch was, it didn’t compare to the Golden Grahams promotional watch. I’m telling you it was the precursor to the Casio Film. I had the Golden Grahams watch for a short time before my brother lost it while mowing someone’s lawn. I’m still looking for it in peoples lawns across the state.
In Europe, the KitKat candy bar is different from the one that is sold in the United States. I like this watch because I didn’t see it promoted in the US. I got it from England where I know we’re talking about a whole different kind of candy. Watches in tins are valuable to me, so I had to have then when I ran across it. The band is black and red faux leather and the face is oval with the KitKat logo on it. The manufacturer isn’t listed but I can tell you that the quality is pretty good. The case is metal and sturdy and the movement is quartz. It had warranty papers with it but absolutely no indication of brand. The only piece of info is that the service center has an address in the U.K. Because of this watch, I like England all over again.