We should have seen it coming. HBO, not one to pass up merchandise licensing opportunities that yield things like action figures and bobbleheads, released a watch for its racy and violent fantasy series, "Game of Thrones." A watch was only a matter of time.
HBO must think some of its fans are doing well--25 of them, anyway. That's the number of "The Nights' Watch" timepieces produced. The HBO store also offers standard themed gewgaws like the Jon Snow bobblehead for $9.99, and family arms t-shirts for $24.99. And for those in the throes of Thrones, there's a $30,000, 350-pound life-size Iron Throne.
By comparison, the watch, made of stainless steel coated in black rubber with a black rubber strap, is a far subtler accessory, if not exactly cheap. As one lawyer put it, seeing it on my wrist at a Museum of Modern Art party: "$10,500 for rubber?" Well, yes, for an automatic watch made by Ulysse Nardin, a Swiss watchmaker with 250 craftsmen producing 20,000 watches annually.
There aren't many of these watches. HBO Global Licensing and Ulysse Nardin lent me watch No. 8 out of 25 made, as indicated by a plate on the left side of the watch. Of all the details, that elicited the most awe.
To the relief of people who might like the watch but wouldn't want to seem like this generation's version of a Trekkie, the Throney details aren't terribly loud. On the band are two steel insets. The one that faces the wearer is engraved with a sword and the words "The Night's Watch." The one that faces outward has part of the vows of the Night's Watch: "I am the sword in the darkness." At both fundraising parties I wore it to, it was too dark for most people to see these details.
Where, many partygoers asked, does it say "Game of Thrones?" Flipping the watch over shows the words printed on clear glass. Cooler still is the intricate timepiece movement this little window reveals.
Some didn't need much to get excited. "I love it, I've read all the books" said finance executive Dana Auslander. That was before she heard the price; she said she'd pay "maybe $500" for it.
The size of the watch was a bit daunting. A guy named Sam at Watch Central, a repair shop in the heart of the Diamond District, cut the band several times to fit my wrist. The case, at 45.8 mm, is larger than most men's watches. Turns out I was on trend.
"I love a man's watch," said Indre Rockefeller, director of ready wear at Moda Operandi and a self-described "Game of Thrones" fan. She was wearing her husband's father's watch, a Rolex.
"I'd steal it right now," added fashion designer Bibhu Mohapatra, who considered it a positive that "it doesn't look like 'Game of Thrones.'"
One guy who works in leveraged finance wasn't buying it. "Wearing it, that'd be a little dorky," he said. "It's a fantasy TV show."