Circa 1970 "Love Mickey" or "Hippie Mickey" bootleg Mickey Mouse watch.
By "Temlex Industries." A hybrid Hong Kong / Swiss product that apparently had many manufacturers, early 1970s
Hi. This is Alan. Contact info is below. Thanks for your interest in these unusual watches.
Here is a "bootleg" Mickey Mouse wrist watch from the early 1970s, featuring a kind of "fake" Mickey Mouse holding a stop sign that says LOVE. It is clearly not a product from Walt Disney Productions, and shows a fake Mickey Mouse with what appears to be a sort of "hippie symbolism."
The watch appears to be "new old stock," never worn, and was bought from someone who said his father ran a jeweler's shop, and now they family is selling off old unused inventory. Came with manufacture's tag. Kind of crazy that this thing sat in a jeweler's shop for nearly 50 years.
The hang tags were present, attached to the watch by a golden string. One side says it's style 402, and give the company name, Temlex Industries of New York. This company check out. It was incorporated February 1967, and became "inactive-dissolution by proclamation / annulment of authority," September 1997. They were probably an "importer" of products, including this watch. The opposite side is goldtone, and says NATIONALLY ADVERTISED, SUPERIOR QUALITY, and PRINCETON, in the form of an old scroll or parchment. There is a logo of a watch. I'm not sure what it means by PRINCETON.
The movement can probably be called "semi-Swiss." It's made from Swiss parts, but the parts were assembled in Hong Kong. Maybe the company that makes the parts is called POLOS. It has one lonely jewel, but at least it's places where it should be, along the balance staff pivot. This is a cheap movement.
My watch is in a gold-tone case. I'm not at all a fan of gold watches, but I was interested in the Hippie Mickey dial, so I got it in spite of the gold case.
Let's take a close look at the Mickey. The quality of the dial printing is below average. The drawing itself is also pretty simple, almost child-like. "Love Mickey" seems to be wearing "bell bottom" jeans, a white t-shirt, and an unbuttoned red shirt, or maybe a red jacket over that. And is that a "sideburn" by his right ear? His big mouse ears have subtle lobulations at the margins. I'm not sure if this is an artefact of poor printing, or if this is meant to actually represent hair, tied up in the shape of the classic mouse ear. Most prominently, the Mickey is holding a red sign that is not a perfect octagon, that says LOVE.
This design appeared on watches made by more than one company, maybe several. These all were probably "assembler" / importer companies, who just copied the design. Clearly, no one could copyright this "bootleg" design, so anyone was free to just steal it and make their own bootleg watch. What could the original artist/company do? Sue some other company for stealing artwork that derived from copyrighted work? Most seemed to have Mickey holding the LOVE stop-sign, but at least one had a bunch of flowers instead of a sign, and one has the mouse wearing short pants. More on all of this, below.
Stitched, blue leather strap in perfect condition. You can see none of these holes have ever been used. This stitching method, where the stitches are "exposed" like this has for several years now been kind of "retro" and in fashion, often in shirts and other garments that have a "working garment" lineage. But the stitching back on those original days was exposed because it was a cheaper method of manufacture, and I suspect the stitching here was for the same reason.
Buckle is made in Hong Kong, with the lettering formed as part of the buckle mold.
Steel caseback made in HONG KONG. It tells us that the watch is DUSTPROOF.
This was in the inside of the caseback, and it tells us that the case was made in Hong Kong, as the SZE TAT METAL WAREFACTORY.
HONG KONG DIAL
You can see in this closeup, the relative low quality to the dial printing method. Also, that upturned toe of Hippie Mickey's left shoe. Was that some kind of reference to a cool shoe?
I actually really love the movement, and this watch in general. Someone in Switzerland, "POLOS" I guess, sold what appears to be loose movement parts to an "assemlber" in Hong Kong. Someone there assembled the movement. Then SZE TAT METALFACTORY made a case, and probably also the caseback. Somewhere in Hong Kong, probably at a different firm, the dial was manufactured. The whole thing was then put together by the "assembler," and then shipped to New York City to TEMLEX INDUSTRIES, the importer. Then, the watch was bought by a jeweler in Indiana, where it sat unused for nearly half a century, only to be bought by myself in 2018. The watch still runs and keeps time!
Close up of the movement, showing the balance. Those rounded "depressions" with tiny central nubbins at the base? Are those generic depressions cut out of the movement plate, where jewels would have gone if this was a higher-grade movement? On other words, the parts maker POLOS supplied a generic plate that could be customized as the assembler saw fit; the spaces were there to put jewels in at pivot points if you wanted to, and in this case they are left blank. Or are these little "oil wells," where tiny drops of lubrication are meant to be deposited, to be held in place by surface tension? If anyone knows, please let me know. Thanks.
This is another bootleg Mickey Mouse watch I had many years ago. Clearly not a Disney product. The Mickey has tongue wagging out, eyes a bit crazy, and may be even jaundiced. I am still laughing about this one, because I tried to sell it on ebay, and within minutes the auction was shut down by ebay, and I received a serious email explaining why, because I was selling forgeries, etc. Of course ebay did not care, but Disney undoubtedly had put pressure on ebay to shut down auctions of non-officially licensed products. I am still laughing about this...
There is evidence that real American hippies wore real (© Disney) Mickey Mouse watches during the days of "the counterculture," certain periods of the 1960s and 1970s.
I remember hearing this, and recently I asked a friend who is 15 years older than me and lived through that era. He confirms that many hippies didn't wear a watch at all, but that some did, and some wore the MM. "It definitely was part of the scene, but not a big one." If anyone was wearing it, he said, and wanted to do the "full hippie, the combo "would have been a Mickey Mouse worn on a big Bund-style 'biker' strap, made by a hippie sandal maker out of heavy cowhide, probably dyed brown. Im sure I saw the combination a number of times."
I'm certainly no expert in the counterculture, but I wonder if the people wearing a MM mouse back then were thinking, "Well I do want to and/or need to wear a watch, but I'm certainly not going to wear a dressy Bulova, or some straight-laced gentleman's TIMEX that my dad and his friends are wearing. What is the watch that is the least like that?" So, in a sense, even the watch on the wrist could be a subtle protest, back "during the counterculture."
What is this watch then? See my thoughts below, after the jump, and make sure to see some of the other examples of this Hippie Mickey dial!
I really do believe that that is "sideburns" along his right lateral face, and that the ears might be meant to represent hair.
If you search up "Hippie Mickey," or "Love Mickey," you will find examples of watches with this and similar dials. They are all "bootleg" items, not sanctioned by Walt Disney, and sold through various assembler-importer relationships. One had a company name called WOTHANIA, LTD. I believe the STOP-LOVE sign probably is meant to convey something like "Stop The War In The Name Of Love." The Vietnam war, of course. It could also be a nod to the Supremes, Stop! In the name of love. Before you break my heart." It could be both.
I don't think we will ever know who designed this dial, their exact motivations, or even to what extent they were even familiar with "the counterculture." I think this is what makes some of these objects so interesting.
(cont below for the other Hippie Mickey examples! )
This HONG KONG Mickey Mouse watch has MM wearing ordinary clothes (unless there are some symbold in his clothing I am missing) and holding a hear-shaped sign that says LOVE. The LOVE is written in that kind of "psychedelic" lettering style
Notice that Mickey has four arms. The printed Mickey has two arms, and the watch hands are two more. To me this is kind of hilarious. Maybe the HEART LOVE inspired the STOP SIGN LOVE, on my watch. Or vice-versa.
This Love Mickey watch is much like mine, but has Mickey holding an orange 5-petal flower. It is interesting that it is copyright by "Adorable Sales," in 1970. Wait, up earlier in this post, I thought a bootleg image could not be copyrighted. I doubt it's licensed from Disney. Not sure I have an answer. But we do have a date on this one, 1970. Notice the hands have some luminous material.
Also by "Adorable Sales" 1970, this Mickey is holding a flower as well. Is there something on his t-shirt? Does it say LOVE? Notice his shoes are bi-color, black and red. I'm convinced now those are sideburns, and the bumpy "ears" are clearly meant to represent hair, not ears. And look at the glorious bell bottoms. Printing on this much better quality than on mine.
This is a "stop sign" Mickey like mine, but look at the massively domed crystal on this one.
There are other examples, if you want to Google it...
1970 Hippie Mickey or Love Mickey watch, probably some kind of bootleg product with Swiss and Hong Kong provenance. Cheap movement, but I love it all for what it is. Time capsule relic.
Thank you for looking.
I hope you will like it.