There is a tiny slice of life known to comic book lovers and moviegoers, especially in Asia. It is referred to as Anime and Manga – and more and more watch brands are inspired by these whimsical characters and bringing them to life on the wrist. The styles, which originated in Japan, are characterized by specific characters, backgrounds, and even colors. Sometimes, the featured individual is an animal, other times a person, and sometimes even a setting. Everything from fictional to historical characters and events are interpreted in the art of Manga (which actually translates from Japanese to “comic book”).
It is said that the concept of Manga is derived from a mixture of ukiyo-e drawings and Western-style drawings that appeared in comic books and graphic novels and that developed just after the Second World War, as civilizations were melding. Today, it also encompasses animation. Similarly, Manga art has many of the same principles as Anime but also often includes exaggerated features as the focal point, including big speech bubbles, unusual typography, or just oversized eyes or lips. Here we take a look at eight popular representations of Anime and Manga in the watchmaking world.
Oris Monkey King: Uproar in Heaven
Inspired by The Monkey King, or Sun Wukong in Mandarin Chinese, Oris has created several Limited Edition pieces, including this unique version of the Monkey King: Uproar in Heaven watch series. The first was a creation of 2,000 pieces in the brand’s beloved Aquis Date Diver’s watch. Designed and produced in partnership with the Shanghai Animation Film Studio Co. (SAFS), the watch celebrated the 60th anniversary of the animated film: The Monkey King: Uproar in Heaven, which was released in 1961. It was the story of a monkey born of stone that receives supernatural powers. The watch is crafted in steel and was a special edition.
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Price: USD 2,600
Swatch X Dragon Ball Z
Swatch revealed seven new watches, and a Limited Edition set this year, reimagining the iconic characters from Dragon Ball Z, Goku, Cell, Frieza, Majin Buu, Gohan, Vegeta, Master Roshi, and Shenron.
Dragon Ball Z is one of the most popular anime series that follows the adventures of Goku and his friends as they fight to defend Earth from the bad guys.
Each Swatch XDragon Ball Z features two interpretations or elements of one of the characters on the front and the back. The characters’ names are in English on the front upper loop, in Japanese on the reverse, and the Dragon Ball Z logo on the bottom loop of the strap.
Price: USD 79 -129
Azimuth X Go Astro Boy Go
Created in a limited edition of just 50 pieces, this Azimuth watch is a very toned-down rendition of the beloved cartoon Go Astro Boy Go. Astro Boy is known in Japan as “Mighty Atom” and Astro. The fictional character is a robot with human emotions and was first introduced in 1963 and soon became a franchise. The 42mm watch is crafted in blackened steel and measures 42mm in diameter. Powered by an automatic movement, the watch features a picture of Astroboy on the center of the dial with his arms extended. The arms actually act as the hour and minute hands and was released to the world in 2020.
Price: USD 2,880
Zenith Chronomaster Revival Lupin
Far more reserved than most watches of its kind, the newest Zenith Chronomaster Revival Lupin The Third Final Edition watch is a collaboration between Zenith and a Japanese Manga and Anime series. The watch was inspired by the appearance of a Zenith El Primero watch in the Lupin the Third series about a gentleman thief in Lupin’s universe. Just 250 pieces of the 37mm automatic chronograph watch will be made – all in titanium with a titanium bracelet. It features the El Primero 400 tin-house movement that offers 50 hours of power reserve.
Price: USD 10,401
Sarpaneva X Moomin
It was late in December 2021 that Finnish watchmaker Sarpaneva unveiled its second watch with Moomin characters on the dial. The characters were created by writer Tove Jansson. They are depicted on the dial via an elaborate cut-out of a Moomin scene that is then placed over a solid dial pained in black with eight Super-LumiNova colored hour markers. The hour markers are hand applied, and the colors are randomly placed on each watch for hundreds of different combinations, almost making each one unique. Powered by a Swiss-made automatic movement, it retails for approximately $13000.
Price: USD 13,000
Omega Speedmaster Speedy Tuesday 2 Ultraman
A little older than some of the other watches shown herein, the Omega Speedmaster Speedy Tuesday 2 Ultraman watch boasts a bright orange chronograph seconds hand and orange markers – a bit of a departure for Omega. It got its Ultraman nickname in honor of the Japanese animated superhero Ultraman. The first limited edition Ultraman watch was a Professional Speedmaster made for the Japanese market in 1968. But this version was created in 2018 – the 50th anniversary of the original. Not easy to find on the pre-owned watch market, but if you do, you may be paying upwards of $50,000.
Gucci Dive X Doraemon
Somewhat of an anomaly, Gucci opted to pair its Dive watch with the Doraemon character in the 40mm timepiece that bears its name. The watch, created in 2021 and no longer available from Gucci (but maybe findable on the pre-owned watch market for upwards of $3,000), features a brown fabric-like dial with the loveable animated character on it in blue. It was initially made as an Anniversary Fujiko Pro collaboration. Water resistant to 200 meters, it is powered by a quartz movement.
Seiko X Pokémon
In 2021, Japanese watch brand Seiko released a second series, the Seiko Starter Collection, of watches inspired by the beloved Pokémon series. Devised as a limited edition of 700 pieces per version, the watches recall Charmander, Squirtle, and Bulbasaur on the dials – in green, red, or blue, depending on the character. Each dial also boasts a Pokeball subdial motif at 9:00. The case backs boast etched images of the characters. The watches are crafted in steel with quartz movements and retail for about $450 each if you can still find one on the market.
Price: USD 450