Recently, American Fossil Watches released three new mechanical watches all featuring Disney’s Mickey Mouse. This particular version is the reference LE1185 Disney x Fossil Limited Edition Sketch Disney Mickey Mouse Watch (apparently Disney is so important it needed to be mentioned twice), and it features a sepia-tone vintage-style Mickey Mouse motif that is based on one of the original Walt Disney sketches of the famed mouse cartoon. As the original “Steamboat Willie” version of Mickey loses copyright protection in 2024, Disney must seemingly brand the way it refers to the famed character, and I think it will be interesting to see how Disney navigates this interesting area of copyright law as it continues to secure protection for its intellectual property rights. Again, I make this side comment if anything to explain why I think “Disney” shows up (necessarily) twice in the product name.
This watch serves two purposes within Fossil: First, as part of its larger celebration of American culture (2023 is the 100th anniversary of Disney), and second, to reaffirm its position as a producer of classic watches, some with traditional mechanical movements. The base 40mm wide case that is used for this Sketch Disney Mickey Mouse watch shows up in a number of new Fossil watches and is inspired by a case design that Fossil created for a Swiss Made automatic watch released in 2013. That design is back but for more affordable watches with mostly Japanese mechanical movements. This is also part of a larger trend for Fossil to release more utilitarian, retro-inspired timepieces that meld functionality with nostalgia and style. The attractive steel case is comfortable on the wrist, but is, alas, a bit on the thick side at nearly 13mm. The case is water resistant to 50 meters and over the dial is a domed sapphire crystal. The rear of the watch has an exhibition window decorated with a picture of “sketch Mickey Mouse” over the movement window (often you see these movements with quite plain bridges). The presentation is well done for the price level for sure.
Like the other three new Disney Mickey Mouse watches, Mickey’s hands are the watch hands. The two other Disney Mickey Mouse watches from Fossil use the same 40mm wide case and movement but with different dial designs. The more classic full-color Disney Mickey Mouse model has a partially open dial, and the other version is a silhouette that features an all-black-colored Mickey Mouse and a more aged metal-style case finishing. In my opinion, this Sketch version of Mickey Mouse was the more original of the trio and offers some style options that would not be possible with the normal, colorful Mickey that could be seen as inappropriate for more serious or masculine attire.
Inside the watch is a Japanese Miyota 8000 series automatic movement. This isn’t the most accurate mechanical movement in the world, but it is robust, has a good amount of torque to move heavy hands, and is priced appropriately to be included in watches at this price point. A quirk of this movement is the position of the subsidiary seconds dial, which is asymmetrically positioned between the 4 and 5 o’clock hour marker positions. As thick as this watch already is, it would be even thicker if the seconds hand was positioned in the center with the hour and minute hands. To make intelligent use of the subsidiary seconds dial, Fossil’s designers created a small pencil-syle seconds hand that would feel very much at home on a seconde/seconde collaboration timepiece. The subsidiary seconds dial is actually easy to miss on the dial if you aren’t looking for it. I don’t know how the watch’s dial would look without the small sections of text about the Mickey Mouse character, but it might have looked a bit cleaner without those dial design elements, and they don’t really add much to the composition aside from the first few times that you read the text.
Another slightly strange thing is the number of limited-edition pieces that Fossil decided to produce of the Disney x Fossil Limited Edition Sketch Disney Mickey Mouse Watch. Indeed, lower production numbers are better for collectors, but I am not sure why the production limitation was 1,723 — versus 1,923 — which would signify the first year of Disney, 1923. At least the “23” part of the number is in there. Attached to the watch is a 20mm wide brown leather strap with a crocodile print. The strap is attached with quick-release spring bars for easy removal. I can see spirited wearers finding much more interesting straps to combine with this watch (ideally some with matching Disney Mickey Mouses printed on them).
In addition to these mechanical Mickey Mouse watches, Fossil has produced a few less expensive quartz-based Disney watches for the 100th anniversary of the important American company. It is unclear if Fossil will continue to produce more after the anniversary is over, as they are not the primary rights holder of the Disney watches licensed, which is currently with the Citizen Group. With that said, while most of those rights are with Citizen, we have seen a number of other watches that feature Disney-owned characters (including the high-end watch brand Gerald Genta). That means we can probably expect more Disney universe characters on fine timepieces in the years to come. The price for the Disney x Fossil Limited-Edition Sketch Disney Mickey Mouse Watch is $395 USD. Learn more at the Fossil website.