September 4, 2016
by Ariel Adams
It feels like just weeks ago (it was a few months) when I visited Disneyland here in Southern California and found a general lack of anything even remotely horologically worthwhile. Mickey Mouse has a fine history of being on wrist watches, but today there are precious few modern timepieces which celebrate Disney’s very rich history of being involved with culturally important wearables. Most of today’s official Disney licensed timepieces are pretty crappy, to be honest, and I’ve actually been considering finding someone at Disney and telling them as much.
In the meantime, while I comb for receptive ears at Disney who might want to talk about more serious Mickey Mouse timepieces, I learned that Invicta recently came out with a limited-edition set of Disney-licensed timepieces. These are basically Invicta’s favorite emulations of mostly Rolex designs with integrated Mickey or Minnie Mouse visual motifs. Note a primary difference between the two major groups of Disney-licensed items. One set of items is sold directly via Disney in one way or another, and the second set of items is able to use Disney-owned imagery and intellectual property, but is marketed and sold without any assistance or participation from Disney themselves (such as the Invicta Disney timepieces).
These Invicta Disney watches are sold directly from Evine, which is an e-commerce and television-based sales company. I’ve not seen their channel, but Invicta has a long history of being deeply integrated with TV shopping channels such as QVC and ShopNBC. Evine is yet another couch-friendly outlet for the energy-conserving shopper. Back when I used to live in San Francisco even before I started aBlogtoWatch, I recall plenty an evening eating dinner alone at home after class and viewing the watch sales hour of ShopNBC when enthused sales guys would wax poetic about each and every Invicta and other watch brand that they sold.
As a watch lover, the appeal of Invicta is mostly absent, even though I do consider the company to be a “gateway brand.” Plenty of people have begun their appreciation of watches with something low cost and basic like an Invicta, only to step up to many more high-quality timepieces. People can fault Invicta all they want (and often for good reason), but the low prices of the brand’s products do allow for a highly democratic sales volume. Most of these Invicta Disney men’s models are only priced at around $150 – even the mechanical ones.
I’m past the point in my watch education to consider wearing an Invicta watch personally. Aside from people’s regular qualms with the brand’s diligent focus on design “inspiration” from other brands, these products tend to be a bit too down-market to satisfy my timepiece expectations. That’s OK, though, as I am happy to represent a more elitist section of watch collectors. I can, however, give praise where praise is due and want to compliment Invicta on a few levels.
First, for the most part, the Invicta Disney watches are for adults. Yes, we can argue about their relative sophistication, but when it comes down to it, these aren’t kids’ watches (and not just because half of them are 50mm wide). Based on their Rolex Submariner-inspired Pro Diver or Rolex Daytona-inspired Speedway, the Mickey Mouse integration in the designs is actually quite mature. Just look at the decently covert integration of Mickey Mouse heads on the bezel of the Invicta Disney 45mm Pro Diver Limited Edition Quartz Chronograph. Even though the core watch design pulls liberally from Rolex and Seiko, the Disney elements aren’t too bad.
What Invicta was surprisingly decent at doing was to make these watches something not only for Disney nerds, but also for a slightly more mainstream audience that appreciates Disney themes in their life. Unfortunately (or fortunately), none of these watches are modern takes on the classic Mickey Mouse hands Disney watches, but are rather more about imagery on the dial. Some of these watches are surprisingly intricate (not to be necessarily confused with attractive) such as the skeletonized dial on the otherwise quartz Invicta Disney Subaqua Noma watches. In most watches, Invicta did succeed in at least being artistic. The Grand Diver (which is like a large Rolex Yacht-Master… sort of) has a kind of stained-glass rendition of Mickey Mouse’s face, which is actually done differently in a collection Invicta oddly decided to call the “Bone Collector” which has Mickey captured in some state of being sucked into the digital Tron universe.