It all began with a contentious post on a FB watch group. “What is the Holy Grail of watches?”
Not surprisingly, there was no clear consensus … or any other form of consensus. There was rancor, disagreement and ridicule.
So I proposed a watch steeped in subversive history and with no affiliations to compromise brand loyalty.
The watch commemorates a Monty Python sketch featuring John Cleese as a bureaucrat in the Ministry of Silly Walks. Satirizing inefficient government departments everywhere, Cleese with deadpan delivery dissects and declines the silly walks proposed by private citizens seeking public funding – all with acerbic British wit.
The watch is manufactured by the
Unemployed Philosophers Guild, which make all manner of Western pop culture kitsch. The problem is that such an iconic watch deserves better than the cheap Made in China case and strap, the cheap Miyota quartz movement (with Cleese twirling his umbrella in halting second increments) and missing detail in the John Cleese figure present in earlier higher quality BBC releases.
We need to mod this watch!
The only items to salvage are the original dial and hands. The dial measures 34.5 mm and the diameters of the quartz movement hubs for the hours/minutes/seconds hands are 1.2, 0.7 and 0.17 mm. This corresponds well to the standard Miyota mechanical movement hand hole diameters of 1.5, 1.0 and 0.2 mm. While one could buy a movement and case piecemeal, the movement might need a custom movement ring or might be totally incompatible with the case. Purchasing a fully functional watch also reduces the need to customize the stem or crown.
In 2017, Timex introduced their first mechanical watch in four decades and celebrates a historic model from the 1960s. Presented in two sizes to appeal to both vintage and modern watch wearers, the larger 40mm diameter Timex Marlin Automatic features a Miyota 8215 movement that should be compatible with our parts. The loudest criticism at the time of introduction was the asking price of $250. Now you can buy new old stock (NOS) examples from eBay at half that price. Most importantly is that the watch is made by Timex’s Asian subsidiary TMX Philippines Inc. located in Lapu-Lapu, Philippines. And not Made in China. Miyota is of course part of Citizen Group in Japan.
The dial pegs of the original watch don’t correspond to the mechanical movement so they were clipped and sanded flat. The dial was about 2mm too wide so the circumference of it was also reduced and the dial crazy glued to the plastic movement ring. Obviously the date ring will not be in use simplifying attachment of the hands. The hour and minute hands holes were actually too small and I had to carefully ream the holes larger with some tapered diamond dental burs mounted to Dremel style rotary tool. Fortunately the second hand fit without modification, which would have been hard to impossible to modify since that hand is a male into female type connection.
Tools of the trade. I borrowed my loupes from work with state of the art wireless LED headlight illumination.
The silly walks can defy gravity at times. I added the all important black leather briefcase that Cleese carried in the sketch by cutting a piece of black tape.