A cartoon or comic book character on the dial of a high-end luxury watch? Why not? Watches don’t have to be serious. Pop culture icons are increasingly in vogue, and luxury watch brands are now resurrecting a concept that has long been forgotten by traditional, relatively serious or technical watchmaking. But recently, even the most high-end watch manufacturers have been surfing the wave of comic or cartoon-themed timepieces. Also known as character watches, they have made a comeback and here are six models we spotted in 2021.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Black Panther Flying Tourbillon
Audemars Piguet announced its partnership with Marvel Entertainment a few months ago. The first model paying tribute to Marvel’s inspirational superheroes and powerful universe was a Royal Oak Concept in titanium featuring a hand-painted white gold 3D Black Panther character and a tourbillon movement. During the online presentation event, a one-of-a-kind white gold version of the watch was auctioned for USD 5.2 million in a bidding that started at $100,000… All the details in the article here.
Quick facts: 42mm titanium and ceramic case – hand-painted white gold 3D Black Panther character – hand-wound calibre 2965 – hours, minutes and flying tourbillon – rubber strap and folding buckle – limited edition of 250 pieces – CHF 150,000
Gerald Genta Arena Retrograde with smiling Disney Mickey Mouse
Gerald Genta was a rule-breaking designer with a fertile imagination. Among his iconic creations were retrograde display watches with their original way to indicate the time. These included quirky Disney character watches. During Geneva Watch Days 2021, Gerald Genta (now owned by Bvlgari) announced it would bring back the concept with a cool 150-piece limited edition: a 41mm Arena case housing the automatic calibre BVL 262 with jumping hours and retrograde minutes. All the details in the article here.
Quick facts: 41mm steel case – automatic calibre BVL 262 – jumping hours and retrograde minutes – fabric strap and folding buckle – limited edition of 150 pieces – CHF 16,500
KONSTANTIN CHAYKIN THE MINION
Russian independent watchmaker Konstantin Chaykin has dreamed up different faces on the dial of his signature ‘Wristmons’. The latest characters to join this collection are the Minions. The limited-edition watch is housed in a slightly smaller case than the previous ‘Wristmons’, with a 40mm diameter and a height of 13.5mm. These new dimensions required changes to the movement and its module had to be reworked. The left eye uses a disc to display the passing hours, and the right eye indicates the minutes. The moon phase is shaped like a mouth and uses a bright red moon disc. The Konstantin Chaykin Wristmon Minion is presented on a blue denim strap with yellow stitching and a pin buckle. All the details in our article here.
Quick facts: 40mm steel case – automatic calibre K07.3 (base ETA2892 + in-house module) – hours, minutes and moon phase indicated by discs – blue denim strap and pin buckle – limited edition of 38 pieces – EUR 13,800
Omega Silver Snoopy award 50th anniversary
Omega received the Silver Snoopy Award in 1970 from NASA as recognition of the brand’s contributions to space exploration and the Speedmaster’s role in saving the Apollo 13 mission. The third and latest special edition Snoopy-themed Speedmaster was presented in late 2020 and… it is not a limited edition. This chronograph is equipped with a modernised version of the iconic hand-wound calibre 3861. With a silicon hairspring and a co-axial escapement, it complies with the Master Chronometer certification. The caseback features a mechanical animation with a rotating representation of the Earth as seen from the Moon and, when the chronograph is engaged, a Snoopy travelling inside a Command and Service Module. All the details in our review here.
Quick facts: 42mm steel case – solid silver (Ag925) dial with blue sub-counters, Snoopy emblem embossed in the small seconds counter – hand-wound Omega calibre 3861, in-house – Master Chronometer – hours, minutes, small seconds and chronograph – nylon fabric strap and pin buckle – EUR 9,600
Reservoir Blake and Mortimer “By Jove!!!”
Housed in a 41.5mm steel case, the Reservoir Blake & Mortimer “By Jove!!!” edition revives the Edgar P. Jacobs characters on its dial. Using a retrograde minutes track with Blake’s arm as a hand and a jumping hour mechanism in a window at 6 o’clock, the watch retains all the technical specifications of previous Reservoir watches, including an automatic movement based on the ETA 2824 with a proprietary module for the display. The watch is worn on a black leather strap with a triple folding clasp. All the details in the article here.
Quick facts: 41.5mm steel case – black dial with grained finish – printed “Blake & Mortimer” characters – automatic calibre ETA 2824 base and proprietary ‘complication’ module – jumping hours and retrograde minutes – black leather strap and folding buckle – limited edition of 75 pieces – EUR 2,990
Bamford London Popeye GMT Limited Edition
In addition to customising watches, Bamford also has its own line of GMT watches and had a little fun in 2019 with a Popeye-themed limited edition, celebrating the cartoon character’s 90th anniversary. A second Popeye limited edition was released in 2021. Presented in a 40mm cushion-shaped steel case, the watch is powered by the automatic Sellita SW330-2, an alternative to the ETA 2893-2. Last but not least, it comes packaged in a black “spinach” can! More details in our article here.
Quick facts: 41.5mm steel case – black dial with grained finish – matte black with central Popeye character – automatic Sellita SW330-2 – hours, minutes, GMT and date – Cordura strap – limited edition of 100 pieces – GBP 1,500