"High Class" Toy Watch From A Gumball Machine
In the 1970's our little suburban grocery store had a little sextet of gumball machines. There was some forgettable "desperation" candy you could get for a penny, but it tasted like wet newspaper. Finer sweets could be had for 5 & 10 cents in the other machines, but high rollers like me would save up our lucre for the big 25 cent machine filled up with toy prizes.
Among the random toys tantalizingly strapped to the advertising placard was the thing that I desired most in life: a wristwatch. This is before cheap LCD watches were freebies in breakfast cereal... watches were pretty special. Since I was a decade away from getting a timepiece for my First Communion, this seemed like it might be my only chance.
I'd go grocery shopping with my mother just so I could cast my covetous stare upon the watch. Among the many plastic bubble enshrined prizes was one of these "high class" watches. It's capsule was tantalizingly perched atop the pile - many, many quarters away. After weeks of watching the pile of prizes go down, my quarter at the ready, something clicked and I finally took a good look at the watch. It wasn't a real timepiece, it was only a toy! I finally saw it for what it was... a cheap come-on, and a dirty trick.
I hadn't thought too much about the watch until I found another one just like it in a pile of junk toys from the 60's. Looking at it, I'm glad I never won it - I would have had to treat it more carefully than a real watch. The body is stamped and crimped tin, the strap is thin flocked vinyl and the fragile crown spins the hands and a patterned background. Put it all together, and it wouldn't have lasted more than an afternoon.
Looking at the watch now, I do find it terribly funny - especially the mounting card's claim of it being "high class". I've even linked to Ebay below so you can find some more toy watches just like this one - it would make a great gag gift. I think that I'll hang onto this dirty gyp of a watch as a reminder of caveat emptor... "let the buyer beware". Just don't ask me what time it is.