A Watch Worn on ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ Is Reborn Offscreen
The Bulova watch company has added to its Archive Series an updated version of its American Girl “K” model — at least in part because of the attention the timepiece received from its appearance in the 2020 Netflix series “The Queen’s Gambit.”
“Our Archive Series houses the brand’s most historic timepieces, reissued for today’s wearer,” Jeffrey Cohen, president of Citizen Watch Company of America, which owns Bulova, wrote in an email. “We chose the Bulova American Girl ‘K’ as the first ladies’ watch in the collection because of the renewed interest around this style due to its placement in recent television series.”
Bulova, founded in 1847 in New York City, produced American Girl watches from 1933 to the 1960s. Each was named for a different letter of the alphabet and, while the ornamentation varied, they were all delicate, manual-wind timepieces set on gold bracelets and secured with clasps and safety chains. (A 1950s display described “an exquisite bracelet … a precision timepiece. Both in One Glamorous Ensemble.”)
Bulova said the Archive Series is a “reimagination” — a word it uses frequently in promotional materials — of some popular timepieces for men and women. One, for example, is the Chronograph 31008-6W, first issued in 1973 and popularly known as the Parking Meter, because its smaller subdials resembled a meter’s display. The original was powered by Bulova’s ChronoMatic movement, which the company said was the first automatic chronograph movement of its kind; the new version of the watch has a 0S21 quartz chronograph movement from the Japanese company Miyota.
The American Girl “K,” which debuted in 1958, has also been “reimagined.” Unlike the original, which featured a 10-karat gold-filled design, the new model is made of stainless steel with a gold-colored finish, and powered by a Miyota quartz movement.
In addition, the new model features a white dial finished with a double-domed sapphire crystal in a 16.77-millimeter tonneau-shaped case on a faceted bracelet. Limited to 2,000 numbered pieces, the watch is available only on the Bulova website and the Kay Jewelers website, at $595. (Advertisements from the 1950s show the original sold for $59.50.)
As for “The Queen’s Gambit,” during Episode 4, the main character, a chess wizard named Beth Harmon, received one of the original American Girl “K” watches, inscribed “WITH LOVE FROM MOTHER,” from her adoptive mother; she was often shown wearing the watch throughout the rest of the series.
“The design itself is iconic and wears dainty,” Mr. Cohen wrote, “making it more like a piece of jewelry for the wrist that happens to tell time.”
But the “K” model hasn’t been the only American Girl style on TV screens.
An American Girl “G” watch, introduced in 1954, was strapped on Midge Maisel’s wrist during the third season of Amazon’s series “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” Looking very Audrey Hepburn in a black sheath during Episode 5, Mrs. Maisel glanced at her watch to check the time after she somehow managed to become part of a fashion show.