While watchmaking often gets a rep for being a stuffy and serious industry, there’s one type of watch that reveals the childlike wonder that we all feel at times. I’m of course talking about character watches, a style of watch that features beloved cartoon characters on the dial and between Mickey Mouse and Popeye, they’re peak nostalgia.
Although as a new generation of watch collectors start to get interested in the industry, a wider cast of characters are starting to grace our dials. Here are 6 of our favourite character watches from the past two years.
Gérald Genta Arena Micky Mouse Football, £20,200
While Gérald Genta is best known for being the driving force behind the sports luxe watch movement, having designed the Patek Philippe Nautilus and the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak amongst others, he was also a pioneering figure in character watches. His Mickey Mouse designs are iconic and Bulgari have revived the concept in their Gérald Genta line.
This is the Arena Bi-Retrograde Mickey Mouse Football, showing Mickey in the act of kicking a ball. His right arm functions as the minutes hand, pointing to the retrograde minutes scale – although if he’s not careful he’s going to commit hand ball. The watch is powered by the BVL 300 calibre with 42-hour power reserve.
More details at Bulgari.
Oris ProPilot X Kermit
The Oris ProPilot X Kermit is not your traditional character watch, in fact it’s barely a character watch at all as Kermit himself is only found on the date wheel in the 1st position, meaning he only shows up once per month. However, while Kermit won’t always be present, what is a permanent feature of the watch is the bright green dial, inspired by the froggy Muppet’s skin tone.
Interestingly, while Oris produce plenty of retro designs that would lean into the nostalgic element of the character, they’ve decided to use their modern, technical ProPilot X with its industrial good looks. Beneath the 39mm titanium case is Oris’ flagship Calibre 400 automatic movement.
More details at Oris.
Boldr Pokémon Pikachu Special Edition
Similar to the Oris Kermit, the Boldr Pokémon Special Editions are less about putting a simple picture of their characters in the middle of the dial and more about capturing the style and energy of the character in a uniquely stylised design. The Pikachu edition shows the pocket monster in silhouette at 6 o’clock with the central hands featuring the key colours of Pikachu’s design – the yellow of its body and the red of its electric cheeks.
Of course, it’s possible to debate whether Pokémon should count as characters. However, for the younger generations who have grown up watching the animated series and playing each generation of the games, they’re beloved characters in the extreme.
More details at Boldr.
Reservoir x Label Noir x Popeye, £4,350
As a relative young’un, Popeye was a bit before my time, although I still look upon the character with fondness due to the fantastic water ride at Universal Orlando. The Sailor Man himself is the focus of Reservoir’s limited edition collaboration with Label Noir, a watch personalisation and customisation brand.
The watch itself is 41mm in titanium with a grey DLC coating, making it durable and scratch resistant. It certainly ate its spinach. Popeye is striding across the dark grey dial and like Mickey above, his arm forms the retrograde minutes hand. The movement below is the manufacture Calibre RSV-240 with 56-hour power reserve.
More details at Reservoir.
Undone Disney Donald Terra GMT, £412
It’s not just Mickey who gets all the Disney love as Undone have put Donald Duck front and centre for the Disney Donald Terra GMT. Donald is presented against a backdrop of a navy blue sector dial in a state of comic shock and alarm with his arms flapping wildly around the dial as the hour and minute hands. He’s not the only character present on the watch though as Chip and Dale can be seen at the tip of the GMT hand and presumably it’s their antics that have Donald on edge.
The Terra GMT has a 37mm diameter case in stainless steel with a cushion shaped design. At that size it’s surprisingly vintage, which leans into the retro style of the sector dial and the nostalgic presence of Donald.
More details at Undone.
Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Anniversary Series “Silver Snoopy Award”
Peanuts star Snoopy has always had an unlikely association with the moon, the Apollo 10 Lunar module was even named the Snoopy with the Command module being the Charlie Brown. On top of that the “Silver Snoopy Award” is a distinction given out by NASA astronauts to the team that bring them home safely. A depiction of that award is found on the small seconds subdial of the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Anniversary Series “Silver Snoopy Award” wristwatch. It shows Snoopy in a spacesuit floating in space. On the watch’s caseback Snoopy can be found again, this time in his spaceship on the way to the moon from Earth.
The watch itself is a 42mm chronograph with tricompax display. It’s powered by the Master Chronometer Calibre 3861 with 50-hour power reserve. As part of that Master Chronometer certification, it has 15,000 gauss magnetic resistance.
More details at Omega.
Citizen Black Panther AW1668-50W, £399
Another unconventional character watch is the Citizen Black Panther AW1668-50W. Black Panther feels like a modern character, his MCU debut being one of the most important cultural moments in recent cinema history. However, he made his comic debut in 1966 in the Silver Age of comics giving him plenty of time to rack up nostalgia.
The watch has a 41mm super titanium case (as close to vibranium as Citizen can get) and features a dial design that shows a stylised version of the Black Panther mask. It’s powered by an Eco Drive movement, using light as its primary power source, which feels apt for the tech savvy Wakandans. There’s also Audemars Piguet’s take on the character but that’s all I’m going to say on that particular piece.
More details at Citizen.