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.
If you took your Jellies shoes and crossed them with the movie Tron, you would end up with this watch. Someone opened up the 1980’s time capsule and this thing escaped! I don’t know what to look at first- the gummy bracelet band or the futuristic circuit board face. Don’t be surprised but somebody thought about this watch. Lorus, the low-end brand of Seiko put this together. Allow me to point out the subtle, if not overlooked, differences between this and other watches of the same time. First, let me tell you about the case. You won’t need your pocket knife to change the battery on this guy- you’re going to need that tiny eye glass repair kit screwdriver. Why? Because it has 4 screws to hold the back on- not your typical, lower cost push-on back. Next, let’s talk about button placement. Everyone else had buttons on the right side- one for displaying the date and one for setting the time. Lorus said no! We will be better and put on big, colored button right on the face! Lefties and righties unite. Lastly, it’s really thin! It’s no Delirium but damn does it try. When I opened up the case, part of the movement was attached to the case back. Well Lorus, the apple doesn’t fall far from the Seiko tree does it?
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.
I’m not allowed to buy a new watch until I finish a project at work. Good thing the project that begot this watch was really, really late- it took that long to find the perfect Borel. I knew I wanted the Borel but I didn’t know if I should get the leather or metal bracelet…or white or black? I’m glad I got the black and boy did I find the perfect one! Mint in box with the $36.00 tag from 1960! I love the lugs and the exhibition back which shows a beautiful manual wind movement. The mystery dial, common at the time, provides the kaleidoscope effect. The gold embossing on the leather band is still in perfect condition, even though I’ve worn it a few time. How could I not? There are always Borel kaleidoscopes on eBay in mens and ladies styles. They can go upwards of $300 and the white dial and band is more rare. Other kaleidoscope-style watches came out in the 80’s and also in the 90’s. What’s the equivalent today? How about the Perrelet Turbine. Now that’s earnest design.
Things you should never do: keep a dying battery in your digital watch. I can’t help it with this one. Of course this classic Nelsonic has an alarm and it plays Dixie. It has a metal case and band with a rather large digital face. It was made while the TV show was popular and before Tom Wopat began his singing career. The orange plastic display case is shaped like Uncle Jesse’s van, and the confederate flag is on the box, the watch and all over Tennessee. So what does this have to do with a dying battery? When Dixie plays with low power, it’s an eerie, slightly off rendition of the real thing. Kinda like that Vance and Coy season. I can’t help it- I have to play it over and over again until it gives up the ghost. These are still plentiful on eBay in plastic and metal band versions.
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!
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.
There’s a million Spiro Agnew and Nixon’s “I’m no crook” watches out there. I’ve seen one in almost every thrift store and they can always be found on eBay. When I last checked, there were a total of 9 Spiro Agnew watches of 5 different types. Other past presidents, thus far, don’t have the same showing when it comes to political apparel. That’s why I snagged this watch on eBay a few years ago. This is a perfect example of 80’s style digital watches. Chunky, square metal case, a clean, blocky face and a mesh band. This watch couldn’t have been worn to be in such good condition. The mesh band hasn’t bent or stretched, the case is unmarred and the LCD hasn’t bled. Not bad after 28 years. Too bad I can’t say that about the GOP. Clinton’s growing nose or backwards time might be easier to find in 8 years. I’m talking about the watches- what did you think I was talking about?