1971 Timex. Very rare. (Why so rare?) Another crazy dial. I suspect that it was sold in the UK only.
It is hard to describe this watch, because I don't really know where to start. The dial obviously has very high contrast, with black, white, blue and red colors. Two rings of black contain the hour numbers, with a thicker, outer band 1-12, and a smaller inner band 13-24. Between each black ring is a thin white ring.
More peripherally, there are the minutes and/or seconds in red, marked by hashes, and with numbers every 5. Small rectangular blocks are present at 15, 30, 45, 60.
And then: the most dramatic aspect of this dial, and what makes this watch really what it is, the blue arcs in the right upper and left lower dial. It totally makes this watch. Look at the dial, and imagine the blue bits gone. Or imagine the entire outer aspect blue, no white parts, no quadrants. [BTW: NEW: my page on a modern, larger re-creation on this watch, the Timex Todd Snyder Blackjack! Very cool.]
I bought this watch on eBay from a seller in the United Kingdom, for 21 GBP, in January of 2007. It was listed as below, "24HR DIAL, 1960s."
Prior to seeing this auction, I had never encountered this watch either on eBay, or on any internet watch forum, include the various vintage Timex forums. I think I may have subsequently heard of one other person having this watch. I myself have never seen one come up since. It is a bit of a mystery, and appears to be very rare. I will delve into that mystery a little bit later, but first a bit more about the watch. [New info! - Nick in the UK has this watch! And he's taken a gorgeous pic below on his Instagram!]
Stainless steel caseback. You can see along the lower aspect of the lid, a small tongue where you can wedge a small tool under to easily pop off the caseback. The image just below is the movement surrounded by a movement holder.
It is a "small" watch by today's standards, 30.5 mm across without the crown. There is a red seconds hand, and hour hands with green luminous material filling. I am lucky that the luminous material is intact, as often in Timex watches from this era with the exact same hands, much of the material has fallen out, leaving gaping holes in the hands. Chrome plated case, standard simple crown, and standard raised acrylic crystal.
On the inside of the caseback is stamped CASE GREAT BRITAIN TIMEX. Note the movement was made in Taiwan. Timex had factories in many parts of the world, and from what I can tell, I think it was pretty common for a watch to be assembled from parts made in different places, and country markings can't really tell you where the watch was necessarily sold/marketed.
With the holder removed, more of the movement can be seen including TIMEX TAIWAN and NO (0) JEWELS. Timex did make jeweled watches, but they were very uncommon. You an also see the balance and balance spring to the left, and the mainspring barrel on the right.
Difficult to see because of the curve of the crystal, but once the movement and attached dial were removed from the case, you can read the dial marking below the 6. To the left, 23171 refers to the model number. To the right, 24 means movement # 24 is used, and 71 means the watch was made in 1971. This is well-known Timex nomenclature.
But I'm returning to the sort of mystery of this watch. How come there are not more of them around? Have a look at another watch from this same era, a well-known and well-loved "iconic" timex, the Timex "Sprite" model 23170, from 1971-1973. Here is a link to a great deal of information about this watch. Below is a picture of a portion of the dial of a 23170 Sprite. A few more words about this watch. What is going on. Is there meaning to the all the marking on the dial? Is it mean to just look attractive, pleasing, "cool." The same questions could be asked about the red/black/white one. I've received more requests from people to buy the red one, than any other watch on the Alanwatch website, and I've had more than a few people email to ask if they could buy this blue one from me. What is it that makes these so appealing? There are a lot of descriptors that have been applied to both watches, including:
I think whatever works, really. I doubt the Timex dial designers had any specific theme in mind, but were designing a dial that was attractive, appealing, and would sell watches. But central to this crazy blue watch and its more famous red cousin is *high contrast.* Nothing wishy washy. Distinct boundaries, bold colors/tones, no gradients or unsharpness.
Humans, from infancy, appear to be hard wired to respond to high-contrast in our visual fields. Take a look at this "developmental" infant item, below. Babies are said to respond very well to such images. I think that well beyond infancy, many people continue to find looking at high contrast-items appealing. Maybe we don't know why, but we could be "hard-wired" in some ways to enjoy contrasty things, like this watch.
Now, take a look at this page from the Timex repair catalog, with a listing of all the Sprite series watches. It shows all watches from this series from 1964 through 1971. This crazy blue Timex really *should* be a Sprite watch. Same small size, round shape, 24 movement, same case style, no date, etc. But even more interesting: our crazy blue Timex is model 23171, and the much more widely seen red/black/white Timex Sprite is model 23170. They are just one model number away from each other. To me, they had to belong to the same family, maybe even designed by the same design team/person. Had to be. But why is this blue one impossible to find more of? New info: Jaimie Donohoe, in Scotland, has found a version of this blue watch, with serial 23172, not 23171! See pic by clicking here, and see far below for more info, for my thoughts on that.
This "iconic" red/black/white Sprite with model 23170 is in the repair catalog, but 23171, the crazy blue one is not. If anyone knows more about this watch, please let me know, at the link at the bottom of this page. Why so few in existence? Was this a UK-only sales/marketed watch? Where are all of them?
This wraps up my thoughts and photos of this striking Timex. If anyone has any comments, or knows more about this watch, please contact me either through my Twitter account (my DMs are open, or you could post an open @ reply) or email me here.
Thanks for reading. Alan
[New: for link to a page on a very nice modern recreation of this watch (2017!) go to Timex Blackjack.]
One more thing, sorry it's kind of our of order, but Jamie Donohoe in Scotland emailed me to send me the below pic of his watch, just like mine, but with a different model number. His watch has model 23172, while it should be 23171. One of these should be "wrong," as Timex, as far as I know, always had a unique model number, for each design. Maybe one of them is simply a mistake, as the person making the dial keyed the number to be printed, keyed it in off by one. The other watches like this are 23171, so Jamie's seems to be the anomaly! Well, spotted, Jamie, thanks for the pictures. If anyone has info on this, please let us know.