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.
How to avoid a fight w/spouse? Don’t answer his serious questions with the sounds from your submarine watch. Not everyone can interpret Casio Melody tones, I guess. I made that mistake with this watch. It started off innocently…I was simply taking out the watch to make sure it still worked when I was asked a serious question at the same time. What could I do? That would be like owning a Millennium Countdown watch and not wearing it on New Year’s Eve! It didn’t help that the sound this watch makes is ominous and creepy. The lights along the front flash on and off for a good 20 seconds while the sound plays. The digital time display pops out the front with the push of a button. I bought this from Kmart in the early 90s and the battery only died last year. It came in several colors including yellow, blue & red. There were at least two other siblings to round out this light & sound family- a robot watch and an airplane watch! All of them have similar eerie sounds and the same digital pop-out display. I’ve got one of each but am convinced there’s more. I’ll keep searching while keeping my soundbytes to myself. Unless a telemarketer calls…
In 1999, Swatch came out with a Yellow Submarine watch. No light and sound, though. No permission, either, but that’s another story.
You saw it first on Fred’s wrist in an episode or two of the Flintstones. You knew you had to have it but no one made one back then. So you tried to make a sundial wristwatch yourself, didn’t you? First with paper, then with things found in the garage. Then you gave up and settled for the plastic toy version they sold at Children’s Palace. A consolation prize at best. This wasn’t the first time a cartoon made you think the uninvented was already invented, right hovercraft-owners? So then you go on a mission to find or relentlessly search for years for your go-go-Gadget Skates until they come out with Wheelies. Imagine my glee when Fossil made it happen in 1993- a real, usable sundial wristwatch for $16. And what better brand than Fossil? It’s got a leather strap, and the sundial is made to look like stone. So cool. What’s next, chronophiles? Who’s making my watch with a millennium hand?
If you didn’t get one in 1993, Fossil just came out with another Sundial Watch this year.
This watch was really expensive.
This is my favorite watch.
I never wear a watch.
These are all lies. You would know that if you had the Spy Truth Detector Watch by Wild Planet. This watch has a motley collection of functions. First, it has a light for viewing in the dark. Not your up-to-date back lit LCD, but an old-style bulb on the side that only lights up about half the display. Think Clockwork Orange. Next, it has a timezone indicator as part of the main display, with a D for DST. It wouldn’t be complete without an alarm or 24 hr time display. The feature functions include a Secret Decoder mode for storing up to three alphanumeric codes, and the Lie Detect mode. In Lie Detect mode, your subject places two fingers on the two metal bars at the top. Resistivity sensing (that’s a guess) determines whether your subject is lying or not by displaying a bar graph representing True or False. Wouldn’t it be great if you could use this any time you bought a watch online? Then you might have a Breitling instead of that Bratling.
You can find this watch in toy stores or Amazon.
Let’s celebrate the color and quality of the 1980’s with this troika of airplane watches. First, let’s begin in 1980 during a trip to Kmart. I saw the yellow watch in the case for $4. Dad wouldn’t buy it because the battery was dead. I never forgot about it and always wished I had it in my collection. I hadn’t seen anything like it since. Next, its 1999 and eBay is alive with a grand total of about 300 watches posted. Yellow shows up one day and we’ve been together since! Little did I know, this was a manual wind watch- not a battery! I remembered back to Kmart and the other colors available. In 2008 I found Red and in 2009 I found White. What makes these guys cool is the silver, shiney airplane that circles the bubble crystal every minute. The face on each is a map of different state or country. Yellow is USA, Red is Europe and White is California. The band is a painted metal bracelet style, and the manufacturer is Out of Time. The case back is engraved with the following, “Hand Wind Every Day & Forever & Ever & Ever.” Don’t mind if I do!
The only reason to look through the Sunday paper as a child, was because of the adds. In the 80s, there were many mail order premiums for new products or advertisements that were only found in the paper. That’s when I saw the advertisement for the LCD Electronic Piano Watch. A one-page, color advertisement listed the watch for $14.99. It wasn’t that I didn’t have the money to order what was sure to become the prize in my collection, but I didn’t have a checkbook. It took a year for me to convince my parents to write me a check. By the time they did, the watch had been marked down to $4.99. After what seemed like another year, it showed up complete with a small book of songs. I was already into electronics as a geeky kid. Combining my love for watches with a mini electronic piano was such a cool thing, I didn’t even try to take it apart for about a month! This was one of the first dozen watches I started my collection with and it remains in the top 10 favorites of my collection. It takes three LR44s to power this guy up and yes, I can still crank out Long, Long Ago like your great aunt Bess.
You won’t find one of these new. Your best bet is a MP3 player watch like this one by Skullcandy.
Will the real Wheel of Fortune watch please stand up? Here it is. The first and original watch from the game show of the same name. Made in the 80’s, when Wheel of Fortune was the show to watch, this watch wasn’t considered a novelty or an advertising watch. It was a legitimate, high-quality timepiece from Sharp. I had to wait until my birthday to get this watch because it was $24.00. For a kid, that was a lot for a wristwatch in the early 80’s. It came in black and white, and it included a game booklet. Inside the booklet are 50 unsolved phrases, questions, nouns, etc., from the show. Using the crown to stop the seconds wheel from turning, you can imitate a spin, play the game and try to solve the puzzle. All the answers are in the back of the booklet. I call this the real Wheel of Fortune watch because a 2nd watch came out in the 90’s that is similar. The 90’s version came in a tin and was much cheaper looking. It was called a “collectible” but is a far cry from this original Sharp model. The easiest way to tell is that the wheel on the cheap version was not a direct replica of the wheel on the game show. The cheap version can be found in abundance on eBay and still at some stores today. This original version is hard to find. I bought a few of the original Sharp models from eBay over the years so now I have a few black and white models. But this, this is the original one I received on my birthday. It still has the Sears price tag on it. This is quite possibly the watch that made me realize I needed to start collecting. I love this watch.
DON’T BUY THIS ONE!
If you’re a real Chronophile, you’ve already taken apart an old wind-up and likely lost a few Incabloc springs. I’m no different, but before I’d even done that, I came across Clockbox. For someone who grew up with a love for kits, (electronics kit, woodburning kit) this is the one I dreamed about. The kit came in this excellent packaging, showing you everything you need to put the watch together. There were several different designs to pick from but Cromo was the best. You can see from the pic that there’s not too much to it. It takes 11 steps to put it together with the detailed instructions. In fact, this would be an excellent gift for a junior horologist. I’ve never put this Cromo together, but I did buy another one for a friend and got to see how it came together. Now that you’re in love, I’ll have to give you the good news and the bad news. The bad news is that I don’t believe this kit is available anymore. The good news…they’ve made the kit into a promotional/marketing product. You can put your own logo on it and package it with your own promotional CD/DVD media! I love this idea because I work with a bunch of engineers. See where I’m going with this?
Junior Chronophiles can start with this kit.
I know what happened. Al loved Mary. He loved her so much that when he saw the ad in the back of Reader’s Digest magazine for the mechanical beating heart wristwatch, he had to get it. It was in the mid-1980’s, and what better way to show your true feelings than with a Swiss timepiece engraved with your name? The only catch was that the name had to be less than 8 characters. “No problem”, thought Al. “If I put mine and Mary’s name on it, that leaves an extra space in the middle. Perfect.” So he carefully filled in the proper items on the order from, including filling in a block for each letter of the engraving. He sent in the $8.00 S&H and waited. Every day he read the advertisement, awaiting the arrival of the wind-up Swiss watch with, quite literally, a beating heart window. Each second of the day could be counted by the little white lever pumping up and down. The thin, leather strap attached to the gold case would look lovely on Mary’s thin wrists as she gazed at the wannabe-guilloche pattern on the face. But the people at the assembly plant turned it all around. Or perhaps the engraving machine couldn’t handle spaces. When it arrived, Al was devastated. This simply wouldn’t do- his love message now turned into a one-word, made-up name?! The beating heart wristwatch was banished to a drawer. It never met Mary or got to be placed upon her wrist. Years later, it wound up in a thrift store on the far west side, only to be rescued by a Chronophile. Brand new love.
I’m sure you’ve seen exercise or weight loss contraptions that you’re pretty sure don’t work but people seem to buy them anyway? I knew the Old Navy Calorie Counter probably wasn’t going to work when I spied it in the half-price basket at the checkout. Doesn’t matter. Had to have it. Would’ve paid $15 for it. If you’re a true Chronophile, you know why we do this. Does it matter that the “pedometer” doesn’t move regularly when I walk? No. Does it matter that the battery was dead beforeI bought it? Nope. Does it matter that the word Calometer written across the front is either misspelled or not a word at all? You know the answer. This only makes the watch more valuable and more of a novelty. What matters is that they tried. They tried to make an inexpensive yet gadgety wristwatch. I would much rather watch the mechanical flickering of the pedometer on the front of this watch than the Tech4o Traileader count it out digitally. But that really comes down to personal preference. Just like why you chose to put the neon yellow sport grips on your NordicTrack.
Don’t put neon yellow sport grips on your NordicTrack.