Forget about the moon phase or perpetual calendar. We have something better, more ludicrous in store for you. Meet the Astromatic X, a fortune-telling watch from the mid-1970s.
Cross my heart; I did not make this tag line up. The original Astromatix booklet from that era serves as proof, and I’m positive you’ve never read a watch leaflet featuring so many ultra-turbo-super-phrase as this one. Reading it, you’ll learn about the watch’s ultra-modern shape or ultra-rapid change of date. Stay calm; there is not revolutionary invention to be found here; it‘s just a quickset by reverse setting. But you get the point.
The steel mass is super heavy. Get ready, it is like wearing a hundred Cartiers at the same time.
This six pager on the Astromatic X that I bought on eBay for a few bucks features as many font types as it has entries. Thanks John (@right_hand_watch) for sending it to me from US. The design full of different shapes and colors makes it look like a manual for some funky RC car, not a watch. But that was part of the charm, I guess. Reading it is fun, and I think I will let it help me when explaining some of the watch’s ‚scientific‘ features.
Where to start. Let’s go back to the early 1990s when I was in grammar school. I remember it as if it was yesterday: the girls in my class loved reading their horoscopes. The daily newspaper and weekly magazines always featured special columns on a prominent page informing citizens about their astrological priorities for the upcoming period. I think the morning radio show may have read them out loud as well. I forgot how ridiculous and serious at the same moment that was. One thing I know for sure is that I was the only one in class that didn’t know when exactly all the Scorpios or Libras were born. Following the predictions for my star sign, the Cancer was my only concern.
Before I get to the review itself, I have to highlight that I found some highly beaten pieces during my research being offered for sale. What does this mean? Real people were wearing them. As fascinating as reading horoscopes. We all understand how ones collect some dents and scratches on a Speedy. It takes quite the stretch of the imagination to see someone running around with this particular heavy steel piece of gadgetry today. Guess it wasn’t so unrealistic 50 years ago.
The astrology craze in the 1970s was huge. You could find anything ranging from Zippo lighters to zodiac panties. I regard it as a demonstration of social anxiety or equivalent to the replacement of an Instagram feed these days. Reading more about the era, you learn about the „Barnum-Forer effect as a common psychological phenomenon whereby individuals give high accuracy ratings to descriptions of their personality that supposedly are tailored specifically to them, that are vague and general enough to apply to a wide range of people.“ Fun fact of the day courtesy of Wikipedia.
At that point knew I had added the Astromatic X to my watch curiosity cabinet. I found one in the UK at a dealer with a Hungarian sounding name. The only suspicious moment of my purchase was learning that he has quite a lot of them. Warning sign for every collector, not only vintage. It all became more apparent when it came to the decision of what Zodiac sign would I like to have. „I got a lot of spare parts that came free with the 300 Astromatic watches I bought,“ Miklos from retro-watches.co.uk explained, and I didn’t dare to question him further.
Reading it, you’ll learn about the watch’s ultra-modern shape or ultra-rapid change of date.
The first line of my excellent Astromatic X booklet says that my watch is regulated according to my astrological sign. It monitors my horoscopical tendency according to three essential areas LOVE, LUCK, and BUSINESS. Based on the principle of astral revolutions calculated for each sign of the zodiac, the slits show the appropriate colour in the following manner: a radiant green to confirm success or good luck, an uncertain white signaling „Aah, perhaps“ and a critical red suggesting to look out and to remain inactive until my fortune improves, which it seems to every few hours.
Now we know how it operates. It would be impressive if I didn’t think about how many dials with different zodiac signs could be switched above the same movement. The believer in me doesn‘t think about the fun the designers might have had when designing the colorful patterns of the ring that slides beneath the three apertures. That being said about the core of the scientific super-gadget. See the picture below and try to break down the logic of the assortment of the colored bars.
To spice up, the reading lets get back to the brochure again. Copywriting is touching the limits here with lines such as: „To be forewarned is to be forearmed“ or „To know is to foresee“. If you are more of a down to Earth type of person you could at least find comfort in seeing an „International Patent“ engraving on the case back. The rights belonged to the Western Continental Holding SA. I wasn’t successful in tracing back more information, but the ‚Swiss made‘ inscription on the dial underscores the irony of the watch.
It is a watch, and it tells the time! Hooray. The super-ultra-chunky steel case with a strong brush effect on the top makes it look even more astral. The steel mass is also super heavy too. Get ready; it is like wearing a hundred Cartiers at the same time. A 25 jewel pin lever escapement manufactured by Baumgartner, signed 758 31/7 beats inside the case. The less durable and precise automatic movement combined with the most boring rotor you have ever seen doesn’t skyrocket this piece amongst the stars of my collection despite its astrological predisposition.
I am happy to say that my wife, our newly born daughter (named Luna by the way) and I are all born in the cancer sign. Not that it would matter, but you know – being sure you have the proper sign on the wrist helps one believe in the watch more. Because believe me, I would not be willing to buy another two Astromatic X watches for each zodiac sign in our family. And without the right sign, it would be no fun. Not to say that I trust in the sign, but it’s a great way to gamify a typical office day.
I found some highly beaten pieces during my research being offered for sale. I guess there were real people wearing them.
How to put this nicely. I think the watch is kind of ugly. I like the gold-brown gradient going through the dial though. Happy to see that besides three apertures for foreseeing the future, the designers also found a brutal way how to put in a fourth window for the date. If you Google it, you might be surprised how many different dial and case executions and variations are sailing around on the internet. The price ranges from 100 to 200 euros. Wearing the Astromatic X is not the comfiest experience I’ve ever had, but I plan to wear it for future events of my growing daughter. I will raise the final verdict on its foreseeing precision only after observing it for the next ten years. Call me then to see what the stars held in store for us.
During the day time, Tomas is an entrepreneur in the advertising, automotive and IT software industries. At night he turns into a watch enthusiast searching for quirky movements or vintage pieces with strong stories behind. Tomas was born and bred... read more