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9 Character Watches That Embrace Cartoon Nostalgia

6 Character Watches That Embrace Cartoon Nostalgia

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

Bulgari Gérald Genta Arena Bi-Retrograde Mickey Mouse Football

While Gérald Genta is best known for being the driving force behind the sports luxe watch movement, having designed the Patek Philippe Nautius 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, £3,700

Oris ProPilot X Kermit Edition

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.

Oris ProPilot X Kermit Edition

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, £361

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.

Boldr Pokémon Pikachu Special Edition

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

Reservoir x Label Noir x Popeye
Reservoir x Label Noir x Popeye

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.

Tag Heuer Formula 1 x Mario Kart Chronograph Limited Edition, £3,750 / £22,300

Tag Heuer Formula 1 X Mario Kart Limited Editions

While he’s by no means as old as Popeye, the Looney Toons and Mickey Mouse, Mario has been part of our lives for almost 40 years, with his first game being released in 1983. So, while we typically think of him as being fresh and new with shiny modern graphics a la the upcoming movie, he’s as venerable as his moustache. Tag Heuer pays tribute to him with the Formula 1 x Mario Kart Chronograph Limited Edition.

It features a finish line checkerboard pattern and Mario himself sits in his kart at the top of the small seconds subdial. Additionally, several date numerals have been replaced with items and symbols that will be instantly recognisable to players. The engine inside is the calibre 16 with 42-hour power reserve.

More details at Tag Heuer.

Undone Disney Donald Terra GMT, £412

Undone Disney Donald Terra GMT
Undone Disney Donald Terra GMT Caseback

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 “Silver Snoopy Award’ 50th Anniversary, £10,000

Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch 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 showing Snoopy in a spacesuit floating in space. 

On the caseback Snoopy can be found again, this time in his spaceship journeying on the way from the Earth to the moon. The watch itself is a 42mm chronograph with tricompax display powered by the Master Chronometer certified 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.

Franck Muller Crazy Hours x BWD Arctic Snoopy Limited Edition, £28,800

Franck Muller Crazy Hours x BWD Arctic Snoopy Limited Edition

Another watch aimed at capturing the nostalgia of characters from yesteryear is the Franck Muller Crazy Hours x BWD Arctic Snoopy Limited Edition. It features everyone’s favourite dog Snoopy in the centre of the dial, using his arms for the hours and minutes.

Franck Muller Crazy Hours x BWD Arctic Snoopy Limited Edition
Franck Muller Crazy Hours x BWD Arctic Snoopy Limited Edition

Of course, this is a Crazy Hours model, which means the hour markers don’t follow a linear path around the dial, instead scattered at random across the dial. In order to keep up with this randomness, Franck Muller developed a special jumping hours mechanism so that Snoopy does always point to the correct time. It also features Woodstock and a friend perched on a pair of hour markers too.

More details at Frank Muller and Bamford Watch Deptartment.

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About the author

Michael Sonsino

As Digital Editor for Oracle Time, Michael needs an eye for detail, which makes it a good thing that his twin joys in life are miniatures and watches. He's a lifelong fan of fine timepieces, especially those of a more historic nature - if it has a twist of Art Deco, all the better. Recent purchase: Seiko Prospex 1959 Alpinist Modern Re-Interpretation. Grail watch: Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921.