11 Ugly Vintage Watches: The 70s Called… and They Want Nothing to Do With Your Watch

By: Damon Bailey

It was the 1970’s. Surfing was out, and Soul Train-style was in. Avocado-colored appliances and mood rings were a thing. Two “Wild and Crazy Guys” had invaded your living room through SNL… and then haunted your workplace through terrible impressions from every single coworker. Pintos, muttonchops, waterbeds, and quartz watches had become commonplace. While some changes were primarily cultural, others meant businesses were economically flailing; the Swiss were among them. And it meant that they were willing to try just about anything in order to stay alive. *cough*

Here are eleven watches with designs so bad, we should all be pumped they died with the disco.

1. Maty Basancon – Calculator Watch

“Yo Dawg, we herd you like chapter rings…”

…and checkered flags because you love auto racing… and calculators (despite availability of digital alternatives)… and diving… when needing to know the time in Baghdad—no wait, Chicago.

All this, in an attractive 48mm package…

2. Yema – “Le Mechani Digi”

For when you want that cutting edge look, without all that lame technology.

I made that name up. I wish I could have made this watch up. I wish there was no Corona virus. I wish for a lot of things. Yema probably wishes this was never part of their archives.

3. Sorna – World Timer

Me: “Everything’s better in red, white, and blue.”
Sorna: “Challenge accepted.”

Good news. If you’ve ever wondered what a watch with five crowns looks like in any major city across the entire world, now you no longer have to thanks to this lovely monstrosity.

4. Wittnauer – Futurama

The future is here. And it’s everything you hoped it wouldn’t be.

This dial is brought to you by the letter “D,” as in “dumb dial design” that’s also a “double retrograde.” This means that the hands flip back up to the top after incrementally inching their way down.

Heck of a conversation piece…

5. Elgin – 1376 TDCBK (base movement)

The jump hour chronograph that couldn’t.

Overwhelmed Swiss factory guy 1: “Hold up, why is there a tachymeter scale if half the numbers are gone?”
Overwhelmed Swiss factory guy 2: “Because of le quartz, man. Don’t ask questions. Do you want to lose your job?!”

Just looking at this thing, I can just smell the desperation in the air. Believe it or not, several companies wanted to take credit for this movement, including Kelek and Precimax. In the end, it couldn’t save any of them.

6. Elvia – Chronograph

Remember Elvia? No? Oh. Probably cause they made crap like this.

…unless you happen to be a chronograph lover with absolute disdain for circles and squares with practical application. If so, welcome home. Whatever your do, don’t crack the crystal; replacements might be tough to come by.


7. Edox – World Timer

If for whatever reason you lost your lunch and some splatter landed on the dial, would you honestly know the difference? Honestly.

Believe it or not, Edox kept producing this model over and over. And over.

8. Sicura – Jump Hour Date

Didn’t you just hate angles back then? Sicura did too… along with any time-telling conventionality that you might have held dear.

“Yeah, dat brass tho.”

9. Uranus – The LED Watch

Jesus Crap… and I thought the name alone was bad enough.

See those creepy-looking sex toy studs around the dial? Those are buttons. You push them with the corresponding numbers or symbols in order to do math. Because the LED screen drained power so fast, this watch came with a really cool travel-size charger… not too large, but approximately the size of a calculator.

10. Sicura – “The…”

…it’s difficult to put in words… I’m looking for something that has that used car dealership kinda feel… wait—yes! Perfect!”

This watch didn’t have a name. It’s probably because Sicura had to lay off the majority of their design team because, “who cares, quartz is killing us” was getting muttered in Swiss cubicles everywhere. Otherwise, I’d have to believe someone would have informed the production team it’s wrong to have a purple dial with primary colors as car sale flag accents.

Marcel Boucher – Jump Hour (Ominously Titled)

Because what’s the opposite of trying too hard? This.

Swiss factory guy on fifth floor roof: “Because fuck you… you and all your quartz-lovin’ buddies giving zero shits about heritage or craft. This is for you, and it’s more than you deserve. I give up. Damn it all to hell.”

Now, inevitably, one of you are going to be like, “Well I actually kind of like the—” and I’m gonna stop you right there. I’m not saying you’re a bad person or that your life is of little value and may God have mercy on your soul. I’m not saying I haven’t shagged up with some dog watches in my time. But at the end of the night, when I went home with that thing on my wrist and my friends whispering, “oh damn,” I was honest with myself about who I was, and what I was doing, and why I was doing it.

Maybe the watch even had a decent movement on the inside. After eating steak everyday maybe I just wanted a hotdog. Regardless, it never changed the nature of the watch or its objective appearance because it simply was what it was: an ugly-ass watch.

Photo Credits (in order of appearance):
Rolex Forums
Watch Point
The LED Watch

Follow TBWS On Instagram


12 thoughts on “11 Ugly Vintage Watches: The 70s Called… and They Want Nothing to Do With Your Watch”

    • If it’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that adding “objectively cool” to on online dating profile garners 17 percent more matches.

    • I laughed so hard at this article, especially the “uranus” and the conversations between the swiss factory guys…I actually once thought about getting that Sorna! So bad it’s good, you know, like that movie “the room”

  1. Oh my God, I laughed so hard at this article, especially the conversations between the swiss factory guys! Believe it it not I once thought about getting that sorna! So bad it’s good, you know, like the movie “the room”

  2. Funny that many of the watches spotlighted here as ugly are in the same list of favorite funky watches posting on watchuseek website. I have to say, I like a lot of these watches. What would be on your list of favorite funky watches? -Paul

  3. I think you’ll find that the Sorna one pictured is a modern repro approximation to an original. All these are cool watches there’s nothing more boring than a rolex clone let’s have some individuality.

  4. As to the Edox Geoscope, Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What you call splatter is a map of the world which imo, makes for a pretty cool wold time watch.
    Inside the movement is a modified ETA cal 2774 ticking at 28,800 bph. Instead of a date wheel, it drives a continuously rotating planisphere disk that makes one full rotation every 24 hours. Just set the rotatable inner bezel and you have the position of the sun and the time all over the world.
    A nearly identical watch was marketed by Concord.
    I think you missed the mark putting this one on your list.

    • Hold on just a minute… You mean to tell me the dial spins… so now the up-chucked pizza looks like it’s getting flushed down a toilet???

      Good grief, kill it with fire.


Leave a Comment