Armitron Digital Sun and Moon

DSC02498

Why do they not make watches like this anymore? Digital animation has got to be my favorite type of novelty watch. I’m not talking about the pixelated, matrix-style watches of today that have 100x100 resolution (see C-watch or DJ Rapper Game Watch). I’m talking about the LCD display like this Digital Sun and Moon Armitron. The LCD’s were different 2 decades ago and although they were small, they made for a better image quality. This watch shows a sun with eyes that rock back and forth with the seconds. Once you hit 6 PM, the sun changes to a moon until 6 AM. I bought this at a Woolworth’s store for $8 in about 1985. I remember they had other types of animation, but I settled on this one. It’s all plastic with a plastic textured band. My very first watch, a musical Armitron model, had an animated roller coaster moving to the seconds. I lost that watch in 3rd grade and I’m still searching for a replacement.


You won’t find a modern watch like this, but you can go for a Tokyo Flash or an LED-based Odin’s Rate.

357 Magnum Revolver Wristwatch

DSC02285

You’d better be on the right side of this watch. Nothing like staring down the chamber of a 357 wheel gun. How unique that someone found a way to make this into a watch. A non-descript, Japan quartz movement is nestled inside the middle of a chamber on a revolver. Fake bullet facades are inset into the chamber around the face of the watch, and a hinged chamber “door” is attached to the front. The hinged part rocks open and closed just like a revolver. The pleather strap holds six plastic 357 rounds for decoration. I thought it was cool so I bought it on eBay years ago. It’s a heavy watch that I am pretty sure uses actual parts from a revolver. If I wore it, I would annoy the $#&! out of everyone by constantly flipping the chamber door open and closed. That sound is pretty realistic and unforgettable. Yeah, I probably shouldn’t wear this one.


If your dead set on a revolver watch, improve on this a bit and go for the Nixon Revolver in gun metal or Andy Warhol.

Mechanical Beating Heart Wristwatch

DSC02951

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.

Circuit Board Wristwatch

DSC02089

It’s hard to pick what to write about on Christmas and writing about a Christmas watch seems a little too expected. So I decided on this one. It was 10 years ago today I received this watch. This one is special because it was the first watch my SO gave to me, before we were even affianced. It’s significant to me as it combines my inner geek with my passion. This circuit board wristwatch was available from Uncommon Goods who always had a smattering a geeky-cool things for people like us. During college I worked at an engineering firm assembling circuit boards. I can still smell the soldering paste and etching acid if I try hard enough. I loved that job. He knew that and he knew me. He picked out this watch, which was the first of many watches to come. The circuit board watch comes in a metal tin with a recycled circuit board blank decorating the top. The face of the watch is also a piece from an unused, unpopulated circuit board. The case is stainless and the band is mesh stainless as well. What makes this watch even more geeky? The circuit board is the battery portion of some electronic gadget. So 10 years ago, this is what I opened on Christmas day. Wait until you see what he got me this year.


I can’t find this one anymore, but Fossil has a good alternative that actual uses a circuit board to create a circuit board that’s a digital circuit board.

Radio Shack DJ Rapper Game Watch

DSC02578

Two things Radio Shack might have in stock when you go there- the Talking Alarm wristwatch and the DJ Rapper Game watch! Hello! And you thought all they had to offer was every TV connector you don’t need and a boatload of LED lights! This is a rarity among rarities. The yellow circular thing on the side of this watch is a record so you can scratch along to a beat. This watch has digital animation of records scratching, DJ’s spinning, and it that’s not good enough, you can play a game! The record and a light at the top of the watch flicker on and off when you scratch or play the game. I can’t really understand what it’s saying to me when the music is playing. About all I can make out is wiggidy, wiggidy, wack! Good luck finding one of these. No seriously- good luck. I wish this beauty to grace your collection!

Clockbox Cromo Wristwatch Kit

DSC02202

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.

Max Headroom Pop-up Wristwatch

DSC03563

Remember this guy? Max Headroom was a character created in the mid-80’s and was a futuristic, computer-generated character. He had a movie, a television show spinoff, was in a music video and was also a spokespersonality for New Coke! This wristwatch is from his television show which aired for a few years in the US. I love it because it’s a pop-up style and has a hologram face of Max. It made the “novelty” category for these two reasons but really it’s a character watch. I have two Max watches- the other one is a swatch-style plastic watch that I believe was a promotional item which came inside a case of Coke. This one I found on eBay. It’s just so 80’s with the harsh background and simple design. It doesn’t even have real buttons to change the time or check the date- just metal tabs inside a cutout that required a pin to touch. Classic.



Eastman Drum Major Novelty Character Wristwatch

DSC02055

A whole new kind of collectable watch is one with animation. Mechanical animation. Check out this Eastman manual wind up watch. A common type of mechanical animation seems to be the eyes of a character displayed on the face of the watch. That’s what happens with this watch when you wind it up. With the beating of the seconds, the character’s eyes move up and down. The cool thing about this Eastman is that the character appears to be a drum major! I have never seen any other watch that commemorated the fine sport. I wonder if this is the only one that is or was ever available? I bought it on eBay about 5 years ago solely because it was a drum major. It’s in perfect condition with a thin leather strap that is very small so it must be a children’s watch. I’ve been known to wear this one on special occasions. When needing to pass time, there is something to be said about becoming mesmerized as the mechanical ticks steal your seconds away.

Ohm's Law Novelty Wristwatch

DSC02410

Surprise! I’m a geek. The TechNoteTime Ohm’s Law wristwatch is actually useful to me. Need to calculate power, current, voltage or resistance? This watch will remind you how. And in case you forgot the color coding for resistors, its got you covered. The Ohm’s Law wristwatch has cleverly placed colored bands at the numbers corresponding to resistor color codes. For example, the 1K ohm resistor would have a brown-black-red mark. Reading from the watch would make 1-0-2 which equals 1000 or 1K ohm. Genious. If only I had this in my first year of college, I could’ve spent more time on that electronic cat pee detector that I was making. I so wish I were kidding. Geek.


Sharp Wheel of Fortune Game Watch

DSC02125

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!


ChatterBox Novelty Recording Wirstwatch

DSC03189

How cool would you have been in 1990 sporting this Sasquatch of a watch on your arm? It looks more like a portable radio than a voice recorder. Check out the size of the 2 batteries it needs! Way back in 1990, apparently before we had computers or fashion sense, tape recorders where the size of a shoebox. So wearing this must’ve been the way to impress your friends or get someone’s phone number. As you can see, it was shown on Entertainment Tonight and various other TV shows. I’m not saying it was the iPod of the time, but it did get some air time. Enough knocking it, though- If I had seen this in 1990, I would’ve bought it. Personal voice memo devices (digital) were popular back then and of course, people were no longer buying tape recorders. This probably was a neat item to have especially since you can mess with the playback speed. I bought it on eBay for I’m sure way less then it was sold for in 1990. There are other voice memo wristwatches out there ranging from adult, name brand types to plastic, children’s types. None have voice changing capability and none are as...large.


Purely for voice recording, try this one.


Chupa Chups Advertising Watch

DSC02245

What best to pair with your Chupa Chup cola-flavored lollipop? An airplane trip, of course! That’s why there’s a floating airplane inside this Chupa Chup’s watch. Don’t worry- I didn’t get it at first either. I was at Schipol airport in Amsterdam in 2000 when I found this at the gift shop. I had to buy a 50 pack of Chupa Chups to get the watch. Totally worth it. As any Chronophile knows, the watch is more valuable as the oddity increases. It’s got a quartz movement behind the bubble and Chupa Chups lollipops are pictured on the band. After 8 years the water inside the bubble watch is still full and clear. After 8 years, I’m still giving away Chupa Chups at Halloween.

Pierre Rucci Thermal Time

DSC02328

What in the heck is thermal time? I got this watch at a thrift store several years ago. It has a ceramic Fossil-esque case that makes it look legitimate. It says thermal time on it and has a temperature track on the outside of the time track. I figured it must do something, right? So I took it home, put in a battery and waited. Nothing. It tells time of course, but what about this whole thermal business? Maybe if I heat up the case, the temperature band will change color indicating what temperature it is? Nope. Maybe it’s just broken? I took it apart (of course) and nothing inside but a standard quartz. Disappointing. Regardless, it still looks cool and seems like it’s doing something. If I’m missing it, someone let me know.

C-Watch Talking Time Watch

DSC02583

Feel like being insulted? Then this is the watch for you. The C-Watch does it with a frown. If you didn’t guess it by the unfriendly digital face, wait until you hear it. At the push of a button, the watch will tell you what time it is and then insult you. Sometimes it gets so mad it just makes a loud, nonsensical chattering. It’s not without any charm, though. It has a stopwatch complete with running man animation, an alarm and most importantly, an off button. I found this at Toys R Us in the electronics section about 8 years ago. This is a bad digi-pet that ignorance won’t kill.


Advance "Astrolon" Wristwatch

DSC01942


I love research and development. There’s no other way to get from here to there. In 1971, Tissot was on the bleeding edge. They came up with a concept called Research Idea 2001. Another name for it was Astrolon. This well-respected brand made a watch almost entirely of plastic. The research effort was in part to find cheaper means to make a mechanical watch but mostly to try new materials. The result was big, futuristic and inaccurate. What is labeled as a “marketing disaster” almost jeopardized Tissot’s future. But it didn’t. Tissot is strong and edgy still today. Have you physically touched a Tissot T Touch? This is the beauty and risk in R&D. Failures make you and your competitors stronger. Do you think there is any link between the Swatch (which came out more than a decade later) and the concept of the Astrolon? I thought of the Astrolon when I saw this Advance in a case at a thrift store. It’s a quartz and does run on a battery, but most of the internal gears are plastic. It’s plastic exhibition case let’s you see everything on the inside from the front and the back. I’ve never heard nor seen any other Advance watch like this one. Another interesting fact about this model is that it’s really loud. I have it in a case with the glass door shut and I can hear it from several feet away. I’m so glad I ran across this. I think I paid $5.99 which is a lot at a thrift store for a plastic watch. I’ve yet to get my hands on the original Tissot version. Sears made one similar to Tissot and it’s called Astrolon, too. I’ve seen both models on eBay but usually they are non-working.

Bud Light Wristwatch Runs on Beer

DSC02253

Another great example of a novelty wristwatch. This Bud Light digital watch is shaped like a can and it runs on beer! Thanks to the joys of a wet cell battery, you can actually soak this watch in beer (or any other liquid) and it will power up the digital display. I love this watch because it has two things going for it- the shape and the functionality. I would’ve bought it just for the shape, but throw in the fact that I can soak it in beer and now I’m looking for my Frat Rock CD and a 40 of Natty Light! I found this on eBay not too long ago. Wet cell battery power is a very old technology. Watches that run on water were a novelty in the mid to late 90’s. I don’t know how or where this watch was offered. It could’ve been a promotion or it could’ve been sold at a brewery or on-line store. You will have a hard time finding one now. Check eBay.


Sea-Monkeys Aquarium Wristwatch

DSC02260

Many watches earn the title of Novelty. Some deserve it and some don’t. The Sea-Monkey Aquarium Watch earns this title with honors. Why? No one else thought it would be a good idea to make a portable aquarium for brine shrimp that you can wear on your wrist. They thought of everything. The aquarium part is removable and simply twist-locks onto the front of the digital watch. A Sea-Monkey extractor tool is provided for grabbing the little guys from their habitat and putting them into the aquarium. I got this for Christmas in 1999 and I have actually worn it with the Sea-Monkeys inside. They survived. Bravo Sea-Monkey people for thinking of us. Novelty Chronophiles salute you. You can get a Sea-Monkey wrist aquarium but it doesn’t have the watch on it anymore. It’s available from Amazon.

Old Navy Calorie Counter Wristwatch

DSC02239

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 before I 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.


McDonald's Digital Analog Hands Watch

DSC02587

I love it when a watch has digital animation. In the late 80s and early 90s, the big thing was the digital watch with analog hands. Interesting concept that’s so cheap to make. That’s probably why McDonald’s went with this model during a promotion in the early 90s. They came in different colors and I think you had to buy a sandwich to get one. I wish I would’ve eaten more than one sandwich.

LCD Electronic Piano Watch

DSC02424

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.

Mini Cooper 35th Anniversary

DSC02626

I remember the early days of eBay when they didn’t have much stuff up yet. At the most there were 200 wristwatches total. Perfect for control freaks like myself who could keep track of everything new that was posted each day. That’s when I found this Mini Cooper 35th Anniversary watch. I haven’t seen one since. What this picture doesn’t show are the three LED lights that blink when you push the button! Red, green and amber tail lights and brake lights flicker on and off in sequence. It came in a wooden box which had a hand-written number on the inside, and Mini Cooper Limited Edition stamped onto the leather band. You’re not completely unlucky if you don’t have one of these. Mini has a few other novelty pieces out there worth checking out like the Sport Chrono or the Carbon Fiber Chrono. Definitely the Carbon Fiber Chrono.


Casio Bio Graph Alarm Chronograph

DSC02029

Fate or luck made me buy this watch about 5 years ago. I remember thinking I hit the jackpot in the novelty watch department. I bought this new and have never seen one for sale since. The only other reference I came across was in a forum where someone was desperately searching for one. My favorite thing in the world is when a digital watch has animation of some sort. Not only does this Casio plot the three states of my well being (sensitivity, physical and intellect) it does so in two-toned, memory-banking style.