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Gadget Watches

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"All historians agree that George Washington's greatest regret was not being PERMANENTLY INVISIBLE. Now you can succeed where the man who invented America failed. Be invisible forever with the Cloak and Dagger Spy Watch!"

There's something cool about wrists and devices on them. Wristwatches are cool. Wristwatches that call your special friend are even cooler.

In fiction, a bracelet is never just a bracelet and a watch never just tells time. They serve some sort of function. Sometimes, multiple functions. They unlock doors, teleport you places, and create miniature harpoons. They're the super Swiss army knife of wristwear.

Oh, and sometimes they even tell the time.

Often a result of Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys? Can be used as part of a Non-Uniform Uniform. A subtrope of Shoe Phone and Super Wrist-Gadget. See also Magical Accessory for other tricked-out trinkets. Compare Billionaire Wristband, which serves the function of signifying how rich its wearer is. Compare and contrast with Clock of Power, which is a more fantastical take on the trope.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Big O: Roger Smith uses one to summon the titular Humongous Mecha—plus, it has a grappling hook and a laser.
  • Faye Valentine of Cowboy Bebop has a bracelet that controls her Cool Starship and an anklet that controls weighted dice.
  • In Case Closed, Conan Edogawa's watch has a tranquilizer dart launcher built into it; Conan uses his watch to knock his caretaker Kogoro asleep, before laying down deductions under his name while he's knocked out. It also has a very bright torch.
  • Light Yagami hides a piece of his Death Note inside his watch, meaning he can kill anyone at any time.
  • In Dr. STONE, Joel crafts a fancy watch that contains a secret radio, which he uses to play Why-Man's message and activate the confiscated petrification device.
  • Ed's pocketwatch in Fullmetal Alchemist is a badge of rank, noting his position as a State Alchemist. These watches allegedly serve as an alchemical amplifier somehow, but this is never really shown (in the original manga; the 2003 series eventually shows that there is a very tiny False Alchemical Stone concealed within the watch's mechanism). It is mainly used as an ID to access government resources, including a massive expense account.
  • Giant Robo: Daisaku controls the eponymous giant robot with one.
  • Youji from Knight Hunters hides his garrote wire inside his already cool-looking diver's watch.
  • Lupin III: Lupin's wristwatch can contain any number of cool things, but a grappling hook is seen the most often.
  • Erio's Strada in Lyrical Nanoha comes in watch form when not in use, serving as both Transformation Trinket and communicator.
  • Chao's time machine in Negima! Magister Negi Magi looks like a large pocket watch.
  • In Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, The Science Ninja Team needed their watches (sometimes called "bracelets" but hey, it was the seventies) to transform, plus they contained a communications device and a gadget that could be slipped in to track radio waves. But when that was being used, the communicator didn't work.

    Comic Books 
  • The Golden Age Astro City villain the Time-Keeper used a stopwatch that stopped time for everyone except himself and his minions.
  • Bat Lash carries a pocket watch case with a derringer concealed inside it. At least once, when someone had the drop on him and was about to shoot, Bat asked if he could take his watch so he could note the exact time of death. confused, the gunman agreed and...
  • Dial H for Hero... which does tell time (and, oh yeah, it turns you into a random superhuman being every time it's activated).
  • Funky Koval from the eponymous Polish sci-fi comic had a watch fitted with a miniature buzzsaw he used to cut the ropes he was tied with in one of the books.
  • Before One More Day, Spider-Man had given Mary Jane Watson a webshooter disguised as a charm bracelet.
  • Jimmy Olsen in Superman has his Signal Watch, which tells the time and gives off a high-pitched frequency that Superman can hear. Originally, it was a present from Superman to Olsen; Post-Crisis, Olsen invented it himself, and Superman sometimes finds it a nuisance.

    Comic Strips 
  • Dick Tracy's radio wristwatch is one of the earliest examples of this, having been conceived way back in The '40s when actual radios still had vacuum tubes. More importantly, Tracy's has received upgraded versions with additional functions over the years to keep it up to date.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • James Bond and other spies use these types of wristwatches all the time. At least for Bond, it becomes something of an Ass Pull, since it just so happens to do whatever he needs it for at that moment, be it a buzzsaw to cut ropes, a laser to cut steel, an electromagnet to fetch keys, a Geiger counter, and so on.
    • To the point that in GoldenEye, when Bond uses his laser watch to cut his way out of a railway car, there was no previous scene of him getting from Q Branch; to the average audience, of course he would have such a gadget on him. Furthermore, the villain (an ex-MI6 agent himself) took away his watch because he knew it was a gadget of some kind.
    • In From Russia with Love, The Dragon Red Grant kills people with a garotte concealed in his wristwatch.
    • Never Say Never Again. Bond uses a watch with a built-in laser to cut open the manacles holding him and escape.
    • Largely averted in the Daniel Craig era films, which have fewer gadgets, and Bond has ordinary (if stylish and expensive) watches. In Spectre, Bond even asks Q what the watch does. Q flatly replies that it tells time, but it does have a "loud" alarm. Sure enough, the watch can be turned into a bomb.
  • Once Upon a Spy: When Chenault and Tannehill are sent out to search for Valorium's base, they are issued with a pair of watches that are homing beacons; allowing the wearer of one watch to tell how close they are to the other.
  • Our Man Flint. Derek Flint's watch could wake him up out of suspended animation and act as a microscope.
  • Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams has Juni and Carmen receive special watches that did everything except tell the time (according to the watch's creator, there just wasn't any more space left for the actual clock part). Gary and Gerti however, receive prototypes that do tell the time and are several times more bulky for that one additional function.
  • Spoofed in Undercover Brother. Smart Brother gave the title character a watch that could spritz hot sauce on white people's food to make it palatable.

  • In the Alex Rider book Snakehead, Alex goes undercover as an Afghan refugee, so one of his gadgets is a broken watch that looks like something one might win at a fairground (the psychology being that he wouldn't have many possessions, but he would be very proud of the few he had). If he moves the hands to 11 o'clock, it sends out a distress signal.
  • In Kim Newman's Diogenes Club stories, it's strongly implied that there's something interesting about Charles Beauregard's pocket watch "with the intricate crystal workings". In Sorcerer Conjurer Wizard Witch, The Undertaking refuse to let him into their HQ while carrying it, and he certainly refuses to let them look after it while he's there. Sadly, the glossary page explaining what it does has been censored by the current Diogenes chairperson.
  • The Doctor Who Expanded Universe novel Borrowed Time has a similar idea to The Girl, the Gold Watch and Everything, with a twist. The people Mr Symmington and Mr Blenkinsop give their wristwatches to are literally borrowing the time, and will be expected to pay it back. With compound interest.
  • In Inherit the Stars by James P. Hogan, the mysterious spacesuited corpse called "Charlie" is wearing a wrist computer that is far beyond the capabilities of any contemporary Earth technology. Its functions include time, day, date, calculator, and who knows what else. It's one of the first clues as to just how advanced Charlie's civilization was.
  • In The Girl The Gold Watch And Everything by John D. MacDonald, the hero inherits a gold pocket watch that stops time for everyone but the person holding it.
    • The Girl, the Gold Watch and Everything was homaged in Lady Slings the Booze (part of the Callahan's Crosstime Saloon series) where one of the bad guys has a time stop device built into a fancy gold wristwatch. Author Spider Robinson acknowledged the Shout-Out to John D. MacDonald in the introduction.
    • Also homaged (without credit) in the DuckTales (1987) episode "Time Teasers".
  • N.E.R.D.S.: Played for Black Comedy when a secret uses a laser wristwatch to cut apart some bad guys, then forgets to turn it off before straightening his tie, cutting off his own arm.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The teleport bracelets from Blake's 7. Apparently they had to be regularly replaced because the cast and crew kept stealing them as presents for their kids.
  • Chuck has a "government issue watch" that can be used to trace him. He's also seen talking into it as a way of communication.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The teleport-wristwatches featured in "The Keys of Marinus" (like Blake's 7, written by Terry Nation).
    • The Seventh Doctor had a pocketwatch scanner, which he used in "Survival"; possibly in other stories as well.
    • The Ninth and Eleventh Doctors are both seen using their perfectly ordinary-seeming wristwatches to tell what year they're in.
    • Vortex manipulators (wriststrap teleport/time machines used by Time Agents, and anyone else who gets ahold of one) might also fall under this; one would assume a time machine can tell the time.
    • The Chameleon Arch pocketwatch in "Human Nature"/"The Family of Blood" and "Utopia" definitely counts as a gadget-watch. It holds the memories and Time Lord nature of a Time Lord who's going so deep cover he gives himself False Memories and even reads genetically as a human or member of any other target species.
    • In "The Caretaker", the Doctor builds an invisibility watch.
  • One of Kamen Rider Double's Memory Gadgets is the Spider Shock, a wristwatch that can turn into a spider robot; it typically functions as a "smart" grappling hook, but can also be used in conjunction with Double's weapons to make "nets".
  • A one-shot gadget used on an episode of MacGyver was a wristwatch with a concealed tracer carried by Pete during a hostage exchange (for Mac to follow at a safe distance). When the hostage takers end up being clever enough to force Pete to get rid of all of his clothes (and later to change cars), Mac is forced to keep giving chase through other methods.
  • Power Rangers and Super Sentai:
    • In Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers Zordon kept in touch with the Rangers via a wristwatch-like device. It could also tap into the Command Center's teleportation system (which Billy got it to do accidentally!)
    • Many other Power Rangers teams have had their morphers wrist-mounted. They're generally being phased out in favor of handheld Cellphone-style morphers.
    • The Dynaman Gag Dub actually calls its Transformation Trinkets, "Gadget Watches".
  • Open Heart features a fairly low-tech one, as it only has a secret compartment hidden under the watch face. It's still important, though, and Dylan and her father are the only ones who know about it, and Dylan realizes that it was given to another doctor after viewing security footage from the day her dad vanished.
  • Jarrod and Brandi found spy equipment in a storage locker in Storage Wars, and among them was one of these, which doubled as a video camera, and could be connected to a computer with a USB cable.
  • The Tracy Brothers in Thunderbirds communicated with each other using these.
  • Ultra Series

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dragon magazine #130 had an article with 17 special watches for use in Top Secret.

    Video Games 
  • In Absolute Obedience, the Russian spy Zhores Barsoukova appeared to have one of these. It turned out to be a completely ordinary watch, and a decoy from a less compromised spy.
  • James Bond video games under Electronic Arts' label frequently include gadgets in Bond's watch. As in GoldenEye (1997), a laser is the most common, followed by things like grappling hooks, knockout darts, and/or a non-lethal taser, among others, depending on the game.
  • Metro 2033: Artyom's wristwatch is a handy piece of Diegetic Interface that tells how well-hidden he is via a set of LEDs Color-Coded for Your Convenience, and when in sections with poisonous air such as the surface, an additional timer on the watch face indicates how much time is left in the current filter. It's so integral to gameplay that there's a control binding specifically for bringing the watch up for inspection. The hour and minute hands are synced to the computer's clock, so yes, it also tells time. Metro: Last Light changes it to a numerical display of nixie tubes for the computer's clock and a timer when Artyom has his gas mask on, and a blue light on top that switches off when he's hidden from sight. The Redux versions of both games have both kinds of watches, with Survival giving Artyom the original analog one (with the blue lamp system instead of the three LEDs) and Spartan featuring the nixie tube model. The nixie tube watch makes a return in Metro Exodus.
  • In the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney series, Matt Engarde has a bracelet that works as a cell phone.
  • The PokéGear, introduced in Pokémon Gold and Silver, was a wrist-worn multi-function device (watch, map, phone, and radio). After skipping it in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, which had the hand-held but not wrist-worn PokéNav, the concept returned in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl with the appropriately-named Pokétch (Pokemon Watch) in the main series and a new PokéGear for the Gen 2 remakes.
  • In Secret Agent Barbie, a watch is used by Barbie to communicate with her friends back at base while she’s on a mission. When it's not being used in this way, it functions as a minimap/GPS-type thing.
  • The COMP terminals from certain games in the Shin Megami Tensei series serve various functions. In all games, they contain a Demon Summoning Program used to call demons that you have contracts with. In IMAGINE Online, it also holds the Demonic Compendium and the chat program as well. Certain hacked COMPs serve as dungeons, and some special COMPs can style your hair!
  • The eponymous character's Spy-Watch in the SPY Fox games, which doubles as the main menu. It doesn't tell time until the third and final game.
  • The Spy from Team Fortress 2 has three different watches, each equipped with a slightly different type of cloaking device. Sadly none of them tell the time; their displays are reserved exclusively for their charge meters.
    • The stock Invis Watch gives him a time-based cloak that can be recharged by collecting ammo packs and has the softest cloak/decloak sound.
    • The second watch, the Cloak-and-Dagger, ties the cloak to the Spy's motion – if he's standing still, it'll recharge even while active, but walking or running deplete it a lot faster than the stock watch, it can't be recharged with ammo packs while in use, and it's noticeably louder when switched on or off.
    • The Dead Ringer is different in that it doesn't have cloak on demand; rather, it's a "feign death" device that drops a ragdoll when the Spy takes damage with it active, cloaks him, and gives him a speed and damage resistance buff so he can get away easier, at the cost of not being easily activated by the Spy himself, taking the longest time to recharge and being totally unable to recharge from ammo packs, and having a thunderous decloak sound that can be heard even during intense firefights. Unlike the other two, the Dead Ringer is a pocket watch.
  • The eponymous Yo-kai Watch can detect nearby Yo-kai and summon ones that have been befriended.

  • El Goonish Shive has walkie talkie watches. Not much compared to a cellphone or a real walkie-talkie, but it's fun, convenient (though less so than a headset), and concealed.
    • And recently, Tedd has entered the business of making wand-watches, allowing people to use their inherent magical energy to cast spells they couldn't cast otherwise (as long as they know exactly what the watch does and how it does it). Of course, since they're toy watches imbued with magic, they can't tell time.
  • Befitting a Team Fortress 2 fan-comic, Intelligence Silliness has BLU Spy extol the virtues of his wristwatch, which allows him to even kill a Strider. It includes, among other devices, a signal jammer, flashlight, surgical knife, camera, PDA, sample analyzer, corkscrew, and "Zavorgian atom spreetlegaller."
    "As a side function, eet deesplays ze time."
  • Tower of God: The pockets, which are universal translators, watches, timers, contract makers, and telephones. Plus they float around and can turn invisible.

    Western Animation 
  • For one of their friendship anniversaries, Beetlejuice gives Lydia a wristwatch - specifically, a "Droolex". It has a calendar function and performs a few other mundane tasks; however, rather unintentionally, it also sprouts bat wings and flies away.
  • Ben 10: The watch's face selector for alien forms alludes to this tropes swiss-army nature (replacing tools with alien forms).
    • In later installments the Omnitrix more literally become this trope. It's organic design elements are abandoned, and replaced with standard gadget watch functionalities like a universal translator and DNA scanner/remixer. It even gets digital voice command functionality and starts being used casually as a walkie talkie and GPS. By Omniverse it can even tell the time.
  • Clue Club's wristwatches have a pager function.
  • Scrooge's nephews had one (and caused predictable chaos with it, and allowed villains to steal it, etc.) in the DuckTales (1987) episode "Time Teasers".
  • Inspector Gadget's entire hand functions as a gadget watch (among other things). His niece Penny has a more standard Videophone/ Remote watch, however.
  • Martin Mystery: The U-Watches that Martin, M.O.M., and other agents of The Center use. They're more like Gadget Containing Watches, as they hold various items (like a quarterstaff, force-field generator, bio-scanner, and a monster database) that can be summoned out of them to aid in an investigation.
  • PAW Patrol has Ryder wearing it on his right arm. And it's still a pup pad with a wristwatch strap, portable and waterproof, and uses it for special missions.
  • Bob from Reboot has Glitch, which literally does anything he wants it to do, even if he doesn't know the exact tool he needs.
  • Rocky and Bullwinkle parodied Dick Tracy's two-way radio wristwatch (when it was still mainly such) with Boris having a two-way wrist television watch. When Natasha expresses surprise, Boris responds: "I'll show that Dick Tracy!"
  • Secret Squirrel has a watch that when opens up has a squirt gun that douses the fuse of the missile to which he's tied in his show's Title Sequence. Not to mention it held a television that linked him to Double Q in two other episodes.
  • Parodied in Sheep in the Big City when Sheep is recruited by a spy organization and receives a watch...that can tell the date. When the enemy Mooks look at it, they scream "He has a watch that tells the date! ABORT MISSION!" and start evacuating en masse before the Angry Scientist shows up and says it isn't dangerous.
  • The Simpsons: In the episode "Two Bad Neighbors", former President George Bush tries to strangle Homer with a garrote watch at the climax. He boasts that it was a farewell present given to him by the CIA.
  • There's a subversion on an episode of Tiny Toon Adventures: Plucky is showing off all his Immature Radioactive Samurai Slugs merchandise, including a "Two-Way Wrist Slug".
    Hamton: What does it do?
    Plucky: Nothing! But it only costs $29.95!
  • The Amulet of Merlin used by the Trollhunters inTrollhunters bares many resemblances to a pocket watch, including the various clockwork dials in it turning when the Amulet is activated.
  • Brock, Rusty, and the eponymous brothers in The Venture Brothers have watches that act as video communicators, as well as contain GPS trackers so they can find each other. Rusty's brother JJ uses a device concealed in his collar instead, pointing out that watches are impractical since, in the event of being captured, the villain will almost certainly bind your hands.

    Real Life 
  • Real spies used at least two different models of gadget watches: one was a pretty obvious photographic camera, the other had a hidden microphone designed to be used with an external recording device. Viktor Suvorov described how during his training he used a watch with a microphone. Apparently, using it during a dinner was a mistake — all the clinking of the cutlery made the speech difficult to hear.
  • In the 1990s and into the early 2000s, "calculator watches" were a badge of nerd-dom. They actually had a basic calculator built in along with time and calendar functions, but the tiny keys and display made them of limited usefulness.
  • The later 2000s and early 2010s saw an explosion of gadget watches: GPS watches, cellphone watches, MP4 player watches and hidden camera watches were all available commercially. Unsurprisingly, they were all made in China. And they even tell time, go figure.
  • Jawbone has created a bracelet that doesn't look half bad but is also equipped with sensors that transmit your vitals to your iPod Touch or iPhone in order to help you lose weight.
  • The Breitling Emergency has an emergency radio beacon built into it.
  • The Pebble Smartwatch was the first smartwatch to actually succeed in the market, releasing in 2013. Its latest iteration, the Pebble Time Round actually has the size and form of a real, high-level watch while maintaining all of its features and a lower price than its competitors.
  • Fitbit approached the wrist gadget from another direction, starting with its basic step-counter fitness device, and eventually turning into a sophisticated smartwatch. The latest fitness watches can monitor heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure, and more. Some can even detect heart arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation.
  • Just as it revolutionized the cellphone with the first iPhone, Apple basically reinvented the gadget watch with the first-generation Apple Watch. Several generations later, the current Apple Watch is a very capable computer on your wrist, and can even be used as a remote for your iPhone. And it still tells the time, too.
  • The Samsung Galaxy Gear is meant to both Defictionalize and parody this trope. It's basically a cell phone on a watch. In fact, it is lampshaded in of the commercials. A bit of Fridge Logic kicks in as the commercial features a little-known wrist communicator from Star Trek: The Motion Picture instead of the iconic flip-top-style communicator. Why? Because the classic communicator design has been so thoroughly defictionalized that it's already (in the era of smartphones) become outdated. (Also of course because wrist-mounted communication is the whole point of the exercise.)


Alternative Title(s): Gadget Watch


The Very Latest Spy Watch

It can do everything EXCEPT tell time.

How well does it match the trope?

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