"Attention K-Mart Shoppers!"
1970s mechanical K-Mart watch, with Swiss mechanical movement.
What the heck?
Hi, this is Alan. Thanks for reading. My contact info is below. Here is a watch that is at the same time funny, and also kind of retro-nostalgic to me. I am *virtually certain* that this is a watch sold through the K-Mart stores, a storied chain that was once a mighty powerhouse of discount retail, but now is barely alive. The watch looks 1970s to me. It is called K-time, and the lettering for the K is exactly the same as the K in the earlier K-mart logo. (See below.)
Here is the movement inside the watch. It is an inexpensive 1-jewel Swiss mechanical movement. it looks to me like it uses a pin-lever movement. You can see the red synthetic ruby at the balance. Below is a diagram of a pin-lever.
To tell you the truth, I really don't like the case of this watch. As I write this page, I'm not sure I'm even going to picture it. Big, bulbous, very Seventies, but not even a good Seventies. I'll admit, the main thing I like about this is the fact that it is K-time. Here is the seconds hand, ticking across the logo.
The K on the dial is exactly in the same lettering as the K of the vintage K-mart logo. There is no doubt in my mind that this was a K-mart watch.
When does something that is not cheap say De Luxe? It's the sign of cheapness, trying to be fancy. I love it. Dial is metal, with a kind of "sunburst" silvery pattern. Dial is Hong Kong. Dial print is kind of cheap. I appreciate the hash marks.
If you didn't grow up during the heyday of K-mart, it's probably hard to fully grasp the significance of this retail giant. The first discount superstore in America, it consolidated everything from the Woolworths, the corner drugstore, the Five and Dime, and more, into one massive emporium of thrift. In addition to a complete array of standard retail items, there was a pharmacy, a photo counter, jewelry, and even a grill!
K-mart has seen a slow and somewhat grueling downward spiral over decades, but still remains. From it's peak in 1994, when it operated 2,486 stores globally, there were (as of May 2020) just 34 remaining K-mart stores in the United States. The reasons are likely complex and multifactorial, but the rise of Walmart, Target, Amazon and other online retail surely had major roles in the decline of this once mighty institution.
The last time I was in a K-mart was 1999. It was during a heatwave, and my sister had no air conditioning at her small apartment. Everywhere was sold out. She managed to source a window unit at a local K-mart, and the were kind enough to hold it for her, but she had no car. So, I went to get it for her. It seemed like a ghost town, even in 1999. But they came through, and she got her AC. But it felt sort of depressing to see what K-mart had become.
I went to K-mart a lot, as a kid. All our film developing was at K-mart. Sometimes my mom would let us eat at the grill. I think she sometimes would just leave us there, tell us to stay put, while she went about her shopping. Baseball mitts, fishing rods, long underwear. You name it. We got almost everything except groceries at K-mart. Just look at all the people in K-mart, in the 1970s, below.
Cheap or not, I actually love this movement. Single jewel at the balance is well shown here. Nice looking gears. The company that makes the movement is called XANTIA, and it checks out.
Just a little fun wit the photo settings, inverting to a "negative" and deepening the saturation.
I always appreciate a bit of red, on a watch dial.
I really dislike the hour and minute hands. Very dull.
Thank you for reading.
I hope you will like it.