April 24, 2011
by Ariel Adams
Discovering watches like this is exciting and makes me wonder how the watch world has changed in the last 40 or 50 years. Things really were different back then – take for example Disney working with Rolex to put a classic form of Mickey Mouse on a watch dial. There has been a lot of argument online whether or not these watches are real. Today’s Rolex would not likely ever put Mickey Mouse or any character on their watches (though leopard print is a different story). So it makes sense that today’s brand devotees are skeptical of these timepieces.
It has been suggested that all Mickey Mouse dialed Rolex watches are fakes. Well not necessarily fake Rolex watches, but rather real ones that have had aftermarket dials placed in the watch. There is actually some merit to this argument because aftermarket Mickey Mouse Rolexes do exist. Based on my research however, I would say that it looks very likely that Rolex did have an actual relationship with Disney in mostly the 1960s and 1970s up to the early 1980s. In that time there seems to have been a series of Rolex watches with Mickey on the dial. These appear to be direct homages to the original Ingersoll Mickey Mouse dials.
For this reason Mickey’s hands look odd. The original Mickey Mouse watches used his hands as the watch hands. Rolex didn’t seem to want to do that, so they used their standard hands and hour markers, but with a nice quality “homage dial” that was meant to remind you of the original Mickey Mouse watches.
Most Mickey Mouse Rolex dials where in Oyster Date and other similar models. Each where in steel and about 35-36mm wide. Back then these would have been men’s models. Today they are best for women and children – as well as other avid collectors. I for one think that these are really cool, and a testament to the immense merchandising power that Disney had (and still has to a large degree).
The top pictured model is a Rolex Oyster Date Ref. 6694 watch, and is very indicative of what Disney Rolex watches were like. Most of the base watches with the Mickey Mouse dials are inherently not very collectible, but these special models are quite rare. Rolex didn’t want Mickey to be on their most high-end pieces. This model is currently available on James List at a price of $3,500. The others are pictures of similar Rolex Mickey Mouse watches so you can see a bit of the range of models. Prices for these pieces all seem to be under $5,000 today – where you can find them.
For nostalgic purposes or simply as interesting collector’s items, these are some pretty interesting and rare Rolex watches that certainly take a lot of the current stuffiness out of the high-end Swiss watch industry. It is also worth noting that during most of Walt Disney’s later life he wore Rolex timepieces.