Cartoon or comic book characters are serious business these days in watchmaking. And if you’re thinking that it’s only inexpensive brands recurring to cartoon characters to enliven their dials, we invite you to take a look at how some of the most revered names in watchmaking have incorporated iconic figures from popular culture on the dials of their watches. Reservoir Watches, a Parisian-based brand noted for its retrograde and jumping hour displays, jumped on the comic book character bandwagon last year with its Blake & Mortimer “By Jove!!!” edition. For round two, Popeye the Sailor Man animates the dial of this two-way Reservoir and LabelNoir collaboration.
Popeye the Sailor Man
Introduced in 1929 by E.C. Segar in the daily King Features Thimble Theatre comic strip, Popeye the Sailor Man was portrayed as a “rough-and-tumble, spinach-loving underdog” whose arms would muscle up after every can of spinach consumed. Ever ready to defend girlfriend Olive Oyl or Swee’Pea, the cutest baby in comic book lore, from his nemesis Bluto, Popeye, the one-eyed sailor, has appeared in just about every media format and product placement imaginable.
Collaboration with LabelNoir
Collaboration watches are another big trend in watchmaking today, and Reservoir has hitched up with LabelNoir, the famous customisation house, for its latest comic character watch. As François Moreau, founder and CEO of Reservoir Watches, points out, collaboration watches are a response to “a strong expectation on the market in search of limited, original and uninhibited pieces…which can sometimes be a real challenge for traditional brands”.
LabelNoir’s sleek dark aesthetic touch can be appreciated on the 41.5mm titanium case clad in grey DLC with a smooth matte satin finish. Fitted with a screw-down crown, the case is water-resistant to 50 metres. Consolidating the grey colour scheme of the case and dial, the watch comes with a casual grey nubuck leather strap with red and grey stitching and a matching grey DLC pin buckle.
retrograde minutes and jumping hours
Similar in layout to the previous Reservoir Blake & Mortimer “By Jove!!!” edition, Popeye’s muscular right arm indicates the retrograde minutes sweeping from 00 to 60 and snapping back again at the top of each hour, while the jumping hours are displayed in a window at 6 o’clock. Depicted in full charge, the figure of Popeye is hand-painted on the dial with his characteristic sailor’s cap, pipe and blue uniform. In keeping with the cartoon spirit, the peripheral minutes and the numerals featured on the dial are depicted in a comic-style font.
Powering the retrograde minutes and jumping hours is the Reservoir calibre RSV-240, a next-generation automatic movement introduced in 2022 and produced with Swiss manufacturer Telos. Using an LJP-G100 automatic base with a patented, proprietary module, the movement beats at 28,800vph and delivers a 56-hour power reserve. To complete the Popeye theme, the sailor is also depicted on the sapphire crystal caseback.
Availability & Price
Limited to 200 pieces, the Reservoir x LabelNoir x Popeye can be ordered online at labelnoirdesign.com and reservoir-watch.com or acquired through a network of specialised retailers. Each numbered model comes in a white wooden box decorated with characters from Popeye’s family – expect to see more of these cartoon characters appearing on Reservoir watch dials in the near future – and a chrome-painted figurine of the sailor eating spinach. The retail price is CHF 4,700 (incl. tax) / EUR 4,700 (incl. tax), and deliveries start in January 2023.