As the effortless but meaningful article from GQ states: “Novelty watches are not just for kids anymore“. And by novelty watches, we are referring to those playful watches, with unique timekeeping concepts, with dials adorned by beloved cartoon characters, where often the conventional hands and markers are replaced by other objects, and where the designer’s imagination exceeds its peak.
A more serious definition would be as follows: Novelty watches are those watches that focus on the overall aesthetics and are characterized by their distinctive designs.
Is a novelty watch worth it?
In terms of design and overall aesthetics, a novelty watch serves as the perfect conversation starter as its unorthodox appearance will most definitely grab some attention. Whether if you’re looking to make a statement, adorn your wrist with style, and be the coolest guy in the room – well these are enough reasons to consider wearing a novelty watch.
Often with novelty watches, at least those in the entry-level price range, there is little to no hard work or craftsmanship on what beats underneath. Obviously, Rolex does its job perfectly, and novelty watches these days are by no means trying to compete with its watchmaking heritage. Instead, these distinctive watches bring a flavor of uniqueness and insanity to your wrist, and that’s what you get.
It makes you curious to see some of them, doesn’t it?
Well, you’re in the right place as this article is entirely dedicated to some of the most beautiful and best novelty watches of all time. From affordable to untouchable, from meaningfully designed and historical timepieces to silly and childish ideas- the novelty watches mentioned below are offered to you as an escape from the conventional wristwatches.
Disney’s Mickey Mouse Watch
There is a lot to talk about Mickey Mouse watches but we will keep it short and clear. Walt Disney was saved from going bankrupt by selling the merchandising rights of Mickey Mouse to Ingersoll Waterbury (Timex today). Back in the 30s, it resulted to be a gigantic market hit as people simply loved the watch. Released were Mickey Mouse pocket watches and wristwatches. The latter was even the most famous as everyone from kids to adults, women or men, was wearing the watch. Today, brands from all around the world celebrate the pop culture icon Mickey Mouse by adoring their dials with the beloved character. And if you want to learn more about Mickey Mouse watches, check our article. Price the last time I checked: $39.95 from Disney Shop.
Mr. Jones – A Perfectly Useless Afternoon
A Perfectly Useless Afternoon was the watch that made Mr. Jones’s watch brand famous and helped them find their way on the horological map. As the founder of Mr. Jones, Crispin Jones itself states:
“We make unusual novelty watches which tell a story, start a conversation or simply make you smile”
A Perfectly Useless Afternoon is an excellent example. On the watch, you will find the illustration on his pool floaty reading a book (hour hand) and the tiny plastic duck floating around that serves as the minute hand. This particular watch was made in collaboration with the famous Belgian illustrator Kristof Devos and the manufacturing is handled in London, UK – where all Mr. Jones watches are designed and assembled. Price the last time I checked: $245 for the model with the 37mm case and $395 for the model with the 45mm case.
Casio A100WEPC Pac-Man
The world-renowned arcade game Pac-Man that conquered every bar back in the 80s, has recently returned the nostalgia thanks to Casio. The Casio A100WEPC in collaboration with Pac-Man is a decent and fun tribute to Pac-Man, one of the greatest video gaming icons. Its playful interpretation comes with the Pac-Man motifs all over the watch’s gold-tone plated case, which will most definitely bring to life some memories from those good ol’ days. This digital vintage-inspired novelty watch comes with a dozen of functions. Included here are a daily alarm, auto calendar, 12-24 hour format, an hourly time signal (can be turned off, no worries), digital chronograph, and LED backlight. Price the last time I checked: $99.95
Mr. Jones Watch “The Accurate”
We love the novelty watches of Mr. Jones so much we decided to add another of their novelty watches to this article. Mr. Jones The Accurate is a memento mori watch that reminds you of the inevitability of death and recalls that life is short and we have to enjoy every moment of it while we are here. It is all about being distinctive with Mr. Jones novelty watches and The Accurate makes no exception. The adorable timepiece will serve as a great conversation starter (of course, if you have the nerve to explain to everyone what a memento mori watch is) and it also looks good on the wrist. Price the last time I checked: $245
Neist Skull Dial Police Watch
Police Watches is an Italian watch brand founded by the De Rigo brothers. The first Police Watch was introduced in 2003 when the De Rigo brothers decided to enter the watch manufacturing business after conquering Europe’s market of sunglasses for over 15 years. With brand ambassadors like The Terminator and Justice League, Bruce Willis, and George Clooney – the brand’s future was more than bright. Police watches were some of the first to bring unorthodox elements on the table like skeleton dials, engraved skulls – things you expect to see around Arnold Schwarzenegger on the Terminator. Police watches bring a brash and unique design, often accompanied by a modern style with an urban appeal. Price the last time I checked: $170
Citizen Death Star
Become One with the Force and let this timepiece from Citizen transport you to an unconventional realm of watches. The Citizen Death Star is part of Citizen’s collection inspired by the Star Wars Saga. And since black does never go out of fashion, we might say this watch will age pretty well. As a true novelty watch, Citizen Death Star belongs to a limited edition of 1997 pieces available worldwide. It comes with Citizen’s Eco-Drive technology (powered by light, any light) and its technological terror inspired design represents the notorious evil engine displayed in a green luminous painting on the dial. Price the last time I checked: $275. Check the article for more Star Wars novelty watches.
Hamilton Ventura Skeleton Auto
By the time you’ll have read this article, this limited edition novelty watch would be probably gone. The Hamilton Ventura Skeleton Auto first appeared on the wrist of Tony Stark’s character in Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017). It belongs to a limited edition of 999 pieces and its impressive design features an intricate spiderweb with an exposed gear dial in pure black. Underneath the Hamilton Ventura Skeleton Auto beats an automatic movement caliber H-10-S with a whopping 80 hours of power reserve. It is one of the best skeleton novelty watches you will find and with its peculiar triangular case, there is no reason not to buy this timepiece. Oh, and almost forgot! The price the last time I checked was $2,246. Here you will find more about limited edition watches you can still purchase in 2021.
Omega Speedmaster “Silver Snoopy Award”
As we leave aside the entry-level affordable novelty watches, we move toward the luxury range. The Omega Speedmaster “Silver Snoopy Award” 50th Anniversary was recently released to remind the world of Omega’s contributions to space exploration. Snoopy has for a long time been NASA’s mascot (especially in the 60-70) the time when Omega received the Silver Snoopy Award from NASA. Well, in case you don’t know, it was an Omega Speedmaster Chronograph, the watch that helped Apollo 13 land safe back to Earth when their spaceship unexpectedly deviated from its predicted trajectory. As for the watch itself, it is powered by the co-axial master chronometer caliber 3861, which is responsible for the accuracy of timekeeping and the chronograph. It comes with 50 hours of power reserve and as a luxury novelty watch, its design is also groundbreaking. Price the last time I checked: $10,000.
Konstantin Chaikin Minotaur
The relatively new independent watchmaker or microbrand watch (depending on how you see it) has returned the eyes of the watch enthusiasts to Russia. The Russian watchmaker, Mr. Chaykin, has bombarded in last years the world of watches with some unique timepieces and the Minotaur is one of them. Released recently during Geneva Watch Days, the Minotaur comes as an art object that bings a flavor of insanity to your wrist.
The highly exclusive novelty watch belongs to a limited edition of 8 pieces manufactured only and has a price of $22,000. On the dial, you will find the face of the Minotaur (a fabulous monster from Greek mythology portrayed with the body of a man and the head and tail of a bull). The mythology theme is evoked from the labyrinth motives to the Minotaur’s nose (letters indicate the weekday) and eyes, the most captivating element, keep track of time.
Seiko Discus “Disc Burger”
It rarely happens to find watches with a digital display created by a mechanical movement. This now discontinued novelty watch, earns the digital display designation as it shows the time using figures rather than with hands to point to numbers. (definition #3)
Launched in Japan in August 2007 as part of Seiko’s Moving Design Collection, Seiko Discus in black (Ref: SCBS007) and in white (Ref: SCBS005) is one of those watches.
It features a small porthole where three moving discs are set in action by Seiko’s automatic self-winding movement Calibre 6R15. The movement provides up to 50 hours of power reserve and has an average accuracy between -15 sec up to +25 sec per month. Quite impressive!
From a style perspective however, it is a matter of preferences. If you’re a fan of conventional watches, you should probably opt for a dress watch. But for the rest of the watch enthusiasts who prefer a flavor of unique and innovative designs in their wrist, Seiko Discus is a sweet deal. Priced at over 800$ and with a limited quantity released back in 2007, good luck on finding one on the second market.
[H. Moser & Cie] Swiss Alp Watch Final Edition
We know… What on earth were they thinking!!? And if Steve Jobs would be watching the latest release from H. Moser & Cie he would react the same. H. Moser & Cie Swiss Alp Watch Final Edition at first glance appears like an Apple Watch with a loading symbol!
And you are right. The watch Swiss Alp by H. Moser & Cie was originally created to poke fun at Apple’s “destroy the Swiss watchmaking industry” speech. That explains its resemblance with the Apple Watch.
Except this one is not digital. And it comes with a 30.800$ price tag. What justifies this price?
To begin with, exclusivity. As a novelty watch it is, H. Moser & Cie Swiss Alp Watch Final Edition belongs to a limited edition of 50 pieces made and they’re already sold out.
There is a technological advancement that is worth mentioning though! Its dial incorporates the darkest man-made material – Vantablack® which can absorb 99.96 % of visible light. By limiting the light reflections created by light photons the watch creates the impression of a black hole. As for the loading symbol – it is a running indicator employed instead of a seconds hand.
Underneath ticks the hand-wound movement Calibre HMC 324 – specifically made to adapt with rectangular watches. The latest H. Moser & Cie Alp Watch provides a whopping 96 hours of power reserve and a power reserve indicator is unusually positioned on the movement side. Its rectangular case is built of DLC coated steel and an alligator strap comfortably attaches the watch to your wrist.
Talking about conversation starters. Not only does Cartier Crash has an out-of-this-world shape but also an unusual history to tell to the ones who ask. Here we go. The rumors say that a customer of Cartier returned his watch for repair after it was involved in a car accident. The fire had shaped the watch’s dial, making it the point of inspiration for Jean-Jacques Cartier to create the iconic Cartier Crash watch. Like with many trend creators, who find inspiration for their designs on daily life occurrences, Cartier Crash is as controversial as it is free in terms of imagination and overall aesthetics.
“Whatever, I’m Late Anyway” Watch
In today’s digitalized world, where we are surrounded by smartphones, laptops, computers, it appears like the real aim of a watch, which is telling the time, is not as important. At least not as important as it used to be 50 years ago. Therefore, if it has happened to you too, to get out of home at 9: 15 and try to make it in time for an appointment at 8: 00, you will find this watch’s statement truly appealing. The “Whatever, I’m Late Anyway” is a novelty watch whose concept pays justice to the realm it is positioned in. Novelty watches are all about telling the time in a fun way, making us smile whenever we look at the dial, and allow us to accessorize our wrists with something that truly distinguishes us from others.
ThinkGeek Steampunk-Styled Tesla
So far, the novelty watches mentioned above had a sense of self-restraint but for this alternative you can say with the full mouth that the designers at ThinkGeek have gone ape. It is all about making a statement with Steampunk Tesla, a novelty watch I fully recommend to the craziest watch collectors. Not only does it come with an intricate design, but it also features a controversial functionality. The main dial keeps track of hours and minutes, the side dial counts seconds passing, and those two faux vacuum tubes with the red lights inside can be easily switched on or off with the flick of a switch. Here’s what one customer has to say about this watch; quote: “ I have had some issues with it keeping time. I wore it one day and woke up in 1985. That might sound fun, but someone else owned my home back then so I woke up in a strangers bedroom. Good thing they weren’t there to call the police.”
AP Black Panther
Finishing our recommendations for some of the best novelty watches with the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept “Black Panther” Flying Tourbillon, (For editorial purposes we’ll call it AP Black Panther). This marvelous timepiece, belonging to a limited edition of 250 pieces and available for a whopping $162K, once again demonstrates that Haute Horology is able to escape from its conventional realm and do something fun and crazy every once in a while.
AP Black Panther is more than just another novelty watch with a cartoon character on the dial. For one, it is cured to details, with every one of the 250 pieces being painted and carved by hand. To continue justifying that $162K, keep in mind that the watch pioneers a curated selection of materials, including the sandblasted titanium case topped with black ceramics, the glare-proofed sapphire crystal, white gold for the hands, and black ceramic for the crown and bezel.
As for the movement, a state-of-the-art automatic movement with a hand-wound mechanism and a flying Tourbillon – is visible from the sapphire crystal case back.