Today, two HODINKEE writers with very different opinions debate what makes a character watch, a character watch. Jack Forster's article argues that in order for a timepiece to earn the distinction of "Character Watch," it must have a character with hands moving to tell the time. In this article, Danny Milton offers his point of view, arguing for a broader definition of the term, one that welcomes all characters ?even those without arms. We invite you to read both pieces, and let us know your thoughts in the comments sections.
"There are no rules, that is how art is born." This quote by legendary abstract expressionist painter Helen Frankenthaler is the key to understanding any artistic medium. fake watch design is art, and we ?the pedantic, watch-loving public ?laud brands who shirk from the expected and subvert the norm. Take Moser, Urwerk, Ressence, and MB&F. At the most basic level, their designs take us to a place where we're left asking, "Is this even a watch?" And I love that. We love that.
The MB&F HM3 'Frog X.' Is it a watch? Does it matter?
If we constrain ourselves to the dogmatic ideal that something can only be done one way and that everything else is wrong, then how can we ever evolve?
All due respect to one Mr. Jack Forster, but the basis of his definition of a character fake watch is a sub-$4.00 pocket fake watch from 1933. In fact, in his recounting of the history of his character watch, he mentions briefly, and then quickly tosses aside, the true first iteration: The Buster Brown watch. In reality this was the first character fake watch ?without need of a caveat. Without it, Ingersoll might never have evolved into the active-hand Mickey Mouse models, some 30 years later.
The original character fake watch ?the "Buster Brown." Image: Hake's
If someone had put their foot down and said, "A character fake watch can only be a static image on a dial," then Mickey might never have existed. To arbitrarily decide that the Mickey Mouse fake watch became the be-all-end-all of character replica watches discounts so many other kinds of character-driven pieces out there.
Former Disney CEO Bob Iger wearing a 1930's Mickey Mouse watch. Sure, it's a character watch, but it's not the only kind of character watch. Image: Getty
I take umbrage with the notion that they are "just static images on a dial." Just? Please.
As many of you are no doubt aware, I have begrudgingly become something of an expert on Space Jam-themed watches, both old and new. Am I to understand that the new Fossil capsule collections are not character watches?
The Looney Tunes All Star Collection character watches.
The All Stars collection features classic, bright, and colorful depictions of Looney Tunes characters center stage on the dial. To discount their character-watchiness on the count that they don't move is a disservice to the artistry. To call them no different than dorm room posters is also an affront to our younger selves. I, for one, took great pride in my poster selection ?a painted Cosmo Kramer.
The Slam Dunk Collection character watch.
Moving on, the Slam Dunk collection pieces feature outlines of the characters, both on the crystal itself and the dial. The Tune Squad edition features an image-changing dial which, I guess we could say, is not static.
The non-static, image-changing, Tune Squad character watch.
That's three different iterations of world famous cartoon characters on a fake watch and I'm supposed to believe those aren't character watches?
And lest we forget, there's our good friend Snoopy. He was famously depicted on NASA's Silver Snoopy Award which was later translated to an Omega Speedmaster in honor of said award. There've been three different versions of this fake watch over the years.
The original Omega Speedmaster Professional Snoopy ref. 3578.51 from 2003, the first of a trio of character replica watches in the Silver Snoopy Award universe.
The first features a stamped color representation of Snoopy, as seen on the Silver Snoopy Award inside one of the subdials ?surely the least compelling offering in terms of the present debate. The second iteration features a white dial and Snoopy in a prone position (as if laying on his dog house) with a thought bubble reading "Failure is not an option." His arms may not be telling the time, but he's no doubt an active participant in the overall experience of the watch. He's think-talking!
The 2015 iteration of the Silver Snoopy ?a character fake watch that talks ... in its mind.
It's with the most recent Snoopy edition that Mr. Forster hedged a bit. Fence-sitting when it comes to the 2020 Omega Silver Snoopy undercuts his entire argument, if you ask me. On this fake watch Snoopy returns to his dancing form inside a subdial, but this time he's painted with luminescent material and glows (glows!), but that's not all.
The 50th Anniversary Silver Snoopy Speedmaster. Look out, Mr. Forster, this character fake watch moves.
Turn the fake watch over and we are in outer space. The Earth rotates, and our pal Snoopy ?in a rocket ?flies from around the dark side of the moon. He's flying for cryin' out loud! This piece has not one, but TWO Snoopy characters, and I am expected to believe this is not a character fake watch because it doesn't have disjointed, disproportionate arms to tell the time?
May I present to you Snoopy ... in a rocket .. flying through space.
Which, let me digress for a moment, is gross. Anatomically speaking, arms should not move that way. So excuse me for not wanting to be nauseated every time I check the time. Also, that's a lot of work for our poor character friends. It's almost Sisyphean (to take another page out of Jack's book) to make them rotate their arms clear around the dial twelve times, only to have to start all over again, ad infinitum.
I dare say that my definition of the character fake watch is the more humanitarian one. I am advocating for justice on behalf of the characters and their tired arms. If we can't expand the definition of a character fake watch for the sake of the character ?what does that say about us?
The Weiss 'Birdie' Surf Watch. Smiling on the outside, and crying on the inside.
But if it's a moving character you're looking for, I've got one ?though the part that moves is not necessarily the one you want.
May I present to you The Audemars Piguet Concept Black Panther ?released in April of this year ?shocking the horological world at large. While there's no doubt (in my opinion ... which is the only one that counts) that this is a character watch, let's take a look at its bona fides anyway.
The AP Concept Black Panther, complete with tourbillon. This was the character fake watch that had everyone talking in 2021.
First, we have an over-engineered, hand-crafted miniature sculpture. You can literally see the BP's pupils along with intense artistic detail on the suit, helmet, and claws. Find me a dorm room poster that can do that, and a college student who can afford it. The sculpture is quite dynamic, providing real three-dimensional depth while working within the confines of the dial.
In terms of movement ?the hands appear to emerge from the character's nether regions, with the tourbillon sitting just beneath there. The best I can say is that this isn't your childhood character watch. It's movement though!
This character fake watch gives new meaning to movement.
I saved this example for last to drive my point home. In making this watch, AP drew direct inspiration from the Mickey Mouse replica watches of old. In fact, Gérald Genta himself (upon whose Royal Oak design this fake watch is based) made Mickey Mouse replica watches of his own. Audemars Piguet thinks the Black Panther is a character watch. Who among us knows more than Audemars Piguet?
Ultimately, I stand for freedom ?both in terms of artistry and the freedom of the characters to rest their weary arms. A character fake watch need not move, and it certainly need not move its hands; it need only bring happiness. A character watch, my friends, is a character on a watch.Audemars-piguet Omega Fossil Mickey-mouse Character-watches Character-watch-week-2021 Nomos Tetra Square replica watches Hands On 11318