Did you know that Ingersoll have produced the first Mickey Mouse watch ever? In this article we take a look at the history of Ingersoll Mickey Mouse watches dating back all the way to 1933. We identify some of the most exciting and rare Mickey Mouse watches out there. And we introduce you to some of the rarest Ingersoll Mickey Mouse watches that are part of our vintage Disney collection!
A short history of Ingersoll
Ingersoll was founded by Robert Hawley and Charles Henry Ingersoll in 1892. At first, the two had established a shipping company in 1882, which later grew to become Ingersoll. The first Ingersoll watches were introduced on the market in 1892, and supplied by the Waterbury Clock Company.
But it's the one-dollar watch, or the Yankee watch, that made Ingersoll a popular brand worldwide starting with 1986. In 1904, Ingersoll also opened a store in London, selling watches for 5 shillings, which was the equivalent of $1 at the time. Other timepieces that have significantly contributed to the success of the brand are the 7-jewels Reliance watch, and the Mickey Mouse watch that was released in 1933.
Despite its many innovations on the watch market, the Ingersoll watch company went bankrupt in 1921, being majorly impacted by the First World War and the recession. "It was purchased by the Waterbury Clock Company in 1922 for $1,500,000. Waterbury Clock sold the London-based arm of the Ingersoll watch business, Ingersoll, Ltd., to its board of directors in 1930, making it a wholly British-owned enterprise. In 1944 the Waterbury Clock Company was renamed United States Time Corporation (now Timex Group USA) and continued producing Ingersoll watches in the United States through the 1950s." (Source: Wikipedia).
The Ingersoll Mickey Mouse watch dating back to 1933
The idea to create a watch featuring Mickey Mouse on the dial was developed by Kay Kamen, who sold it to the Ingersoll-Waterbury Company, which was struggling to avoid bankruptcy at the time. The first Mickey Mouse wristwatch was released in 1933 and it retailed for $3.75 at the time. It was a huge success: Macy's sold 11,000 pieces on the first day after the watch went on sale.
Photo source: secondhandhorology.com
"At the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago, Ingersoll provided a small factory where the manufacture of the Mickey watches was demonstrated. The watch became seen as a stylish item and Ingersoll were able to add 2,800 new employees to its small workforce of 200 in the space of just two years. At the 1939 World’s Fair in New York, a Mickey watch was placed in a time capsule."
(Source: Alan Bryman - The Disneyzation of Society).
Some of the rarest vintage Ingersoll Mickey Mouse watches you can find nowadays on the second-hand market are dating back to the 1930s and 1940s.
1930s Mickey Mouse Ingersoll Watches
The 1930s Ingersoll Mickey Mouse watch models have quite specific design features. As you can see in the photos below, the Mickey Mouse illustration on the dial has a rather particular vintage design, just like in the old Mickey Mouse Disney pictures. In addition, the 6 'clock sub-dial of the watch also features tiny Mickey Mouse illustrations.
1930s Ingersoll Mickey Mouse wrist watches / Photo source: @IngersollMickeyMouseWatches
1933-1934 Mickey Mouse Ingersoll pocket watches known as the "Balloon Trouser" Mickey Mouse watches / Photo source: @IngersollMickeyMouseWatches
1940s Mickey Mouse Ingersoll Watches
We have hosted a few 1940s Mickey Mouse Ingersoll watches in our vintage collection over the years. These are rare vintage timepieces, powered by impressive mechanical movements that can still keep time with quite high precision after all of these years.
Let us introduce you to two of our 1947-1948 Mickey Mouse watches, now available on our website.
Placed on a beautiful high-quality navy leather strap, this 1940s Mickey Mouse Ingersoll watch has acquired a unique patina on the upper right side of the dial.
As you can see in the photos, these 1940s Ingersoll Mickey Mouse watches no longer come with a 6 o'clock sub-dial. Also, the design of the Mickey Mouse depiction is different in style. Small red dots are painted on Mickey Mouse's face. Also, the hands of the watch have a more detailed design than previous models.
On the back of the case, Ingersoll watches often have a number engraved, and the US Time stamp. Sometimes, no number is displayed, only the US Time stamp.
A similar model from the 1940s is the one below, which we have placed on a brand new brown leather strap.
If you look closely, you can see that this Mickey Mouse watch has aged a bit differently. The colors are a bit more faded, but the dial is in much better overall condition. Small design differences are noticeable as well, such as the text that is placed between 6 and 7 o'clock this time, instead of between 5 and 6 o'clock (see the model above). And the Ingersoll logo that is displayed on the dial of this model.
This rather different 1940s Ingersoll Mickey Mouse watch comes with a round case this time, and a large crown that stands out against the 23-mm case. The Mickey Mouse illustration on the dial has the same design with red dots, which is indicative that the watch dates back to the same time period.
Due to the small size of the case, this time the Ingersoll name is not displayed on the dial, but the US Time inscription is still featured on the back of the watch, just like on the ones above.
1950s-1970s Ingersoll Mickey Mouse watches
Ingersoll have continued to create Mickey Mouse watches up until 1971. As the years went by, the Mickey Mouse illustrations on the dial have also been adapted to be more in tune with the times. The red polka-dot pattern on Mickey Mouse's face has been replaced with a beige color, as you can observe in the photos below.
As you can see, this 1960s Ingersoll Mickey Mouse watch model features the updated Mickey Mouse illustration design. The numerals of the watch are black, as opposed to the red ones used in earlier years. But this time, the Ingersoll logo is featured in a bright red color.
This Ingersoll Mickey Mouse watch is from the last year of production, so it's quite a special timepiece. As you can see, the design of the dial is very similar to the 1960s piece featured above, with tiny differences, such as the small text that is no longer displayed between 7 and 8 o'clock.
How much are vintage Ingersoll Mickey Mouse watches worth?
Vintage Ingersoll Mickey Mouse watches have become collectible pieces that hold their value quite well. Since these watches are no longer being produced, and they are pretty hard to find on the watch market, they can be quite valuable. The rarest pieces out there are sold for over $1000, while most models are valued between $100-$700.The older the watch, the more valuable it can be.
Other factors come into play as well, such as: the overall condition of the watch, is the movement still working and keeping time correctly?, does the watch have all of its original parts?, etc.
But if you have an Ingersoll Mickey Mouse watch, it is definitely worth looking into it. The 1930s models are especially valuable, even if they are not in working condition.
If you want to know more about how to value your vintage watch, make sure to read our article about buying or selling your first vintage watch. It covers many factors that can help you establish a fair price for your watch.
If you're a Mickey Mouse fan, make sure to check out our complete vintage Mickey Mouse watch collection. It features Mickey Mouse watches from the 1940s until today, from brands like Ingersoll, Bradley, Lorus, Seiko, and many more. The watches are functional, and have been serviced by our watchmaker, cleaned and restored by our team, and most of them placed on brand new leather straps. For any questions, don't hesitate to contact us.
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