Mickey Mouse first came to life on the big screen in the animated motion picture Steamboat Willie in 1928. Five years later Walt Disney licensed the Ingersoll Waterbury Clock company to produce the world’s first-ever character product – the Mickey Mouse watch.
The watch was launched at the 1933 Chicago Exposition, where Ingersoll set up a production line so that visitors could order a watch (for $3.75), see it assembled and walk away with their prized purchase. By 1935 Ingersoll had sold 2,500,000 Mickey Mouse watches.
Since then, Mickey Mouse went on to appear in 130 cartoon films and became an international phenomenon. In 1978 he even became the first cartoon character to receive the high accolade of a star on Hollywood Boulevard.
Ingersoll continued to produce Mickey Mouse watches and, in 1957, presented the 25 millionth such timepiece to Walt Disney. The cartoon-themed timepieces continued to roll off the production lines until 1971, when the collaboration between Disney and the Ingersoll brand (which was then owned by what was later to become the Timex Group) ended.
After Disney decided to rebrand Mickey Mouse in 2009, restoring some of the character’s more mischievous qualities, Ingersoll trademark owner Zeon Watches, the UK’s biggest importer and distributor of timepieces, revised the classic Mickey Mouse watch with two models that remained true to the originals: a pocket watch and wristwatch with Mickey on the dial, with his hands moving around the dial to indicate the time, and a small seconds disc at 6 o’clock with three Mickey Mouses running around it as it turns.
Stone-set Minnie Mouse watch
The 21st century models use stainless steel for the case and a seventeen-jewel mechanical movement. The watches packaged in the style of the originals and each one is individually numbered.
Thanks to its Mickey Mouse watch, Ingersoll established a reputation as the foremost manufacture of character watches and went on to produce timepieces depicting such famous characters as Buck Rogers, Donald Duck, Flash Gordon, Lone Ranger, Popeye, Captain Marvel, Dan Dare and Peter Pan. Even today, Zeon’s licensed character watches include such classics as the Beatles and Elvis alongside more modern equivalents such as Hello Kitty and The Simpsons.
The Classic Collection by Ingersoll
After the huge interest in the Mickey Mouse collection at BaselWorld last year, Ingersoll has extended the range with a further 15 models to be presented at BaselWorld 2012. The Classic Collection is a more affordable offering that is targeted at teenagers and adults, powered by quartz movements from Seiko and packaged in metal gift tins in the shape of Mickey’s ears. The new models include glamorous stone-set Mickey and Minnie bracelet models, as well as several different case sizes and fashionable coloured straps.
The Disney Ingersoll collections will be featured at BaselWorld in Hall 2 A80.