I never really cared to own a Mickey Mouse watch, which is surprising because as a watch collector you’d think it would be a staple in any collection. If only for the rich history behind the brand. I guess I was never really fascinated with Mickey Mouse; hence, not caring for the watch itself and disregarding its heritage.
Recently while thrift store hunting I came a cross a Mickey Mouse watch that was beaten, corroded and covered with years of grime. Okay, I admit having a bit of a fascination with the watch. It wasn’t so much the watch that caught my attention, but rather the possibility of bringing this watch back to its former glory… and at $2.49 what did I really have to loose… It was just a bit more than a cup of light brew at the local coffee house.
First things first, buy the watch in hopes I could get it to run… Next, take it to my jeweler thinking we could get it running again with a simple swap of a battery. Well, for a mere $10.00 (a cost more than the watch itself), Mickey’s second hand was on it’s way… So I eagerly brought the watch home and immediately began the process of taking it apart and doing some serious cleaning and polishing.
Not knowing much history about the Mickey Mouse watch or Walt Disney for that matter, I decided to do some research. I mean I knew of them… I found that the actual first Disney character to be used for marketing by Disney would be Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, but it was mainly for publicity. In 1929, while Walt Disney was in New York negotiating business, a man approached him in the lobby of a hotel he was staying, offered him $300. for permission to use the likeness of Mickey Mouse on writing tablets. Walt Disney needing the money agreed, accepted the $300. making this the first license for a Mickey Mouse product.
It wasn’t until 1933 that the Mickey Mouse watch was introduced and made it’s debut at the Chicago Exposition Fair. The watch sold for $3.25. initially and then the price was lowered to $2.95 shortly thereafter …. A lot of money back then for a cartoon character watch. I guess my purchase was a good deal given inflation! This of course is not an original Mickey Mouse watch but just one in a long history of reproductions.
A bit a trivia, The Mickey Mouse watch was produced by the Ingersoll-Waterbury Watch Company. Today that company is famously known as Timex. Ingersoll-Waterbury was very successful in the the branding of the Mickey Mouse watch and later even added Minnie Mouse to the dial. Minnie became so popular on the dial with Mickey, she later went on to get her own watch line.
Ingersoll-Waterbury was very successful until 1971 when they stopped producing the Mickey Mouse watch. That is when a plethora of companies picked up where they left off… manufacturers from all over the world such as Seiko, Lorus, Elgin, Bradley and many more others reproduced the popular Disney character watches and they still do to this day.
Today the Mickey Mouse watch is as popular as it ever was almost 90 years ago. I suspect as long as there are Disney fans, the Mickey Mouse watch will tick on…
My Mickey Mouse watch cleaned up rather well and now has a permanent spot in my collection. I also have a greater appreciation for the history behind the Mickey Mouse watch and its humble beginnings.
See the before and after pictures along with an original 1930s Ingersoll-Waterbury Mickey Mouse Watch below…