A Whimsical Look at the LEGO Watch System

There’s a storied history of non-watch companies making the foray into the watch world. Montblanc, Ralph Lauren, Tiffany & Co. Some of them are even quite good–the Hermès H08, for example, is simply stunning and unlike anything else on the market. But none of these forays into watchmaking is quite as quirky, quite as unexpected, or quite as downright amusing as the LEGO Watch System.

I discovered the LEGO Watch System, and specifically those released in 2013 which after some research seem to be the best since LEGO launched the product in 1996, on January 28, National LEGO Day, as luck would have it, through a random recommended post on Instagram. The 2013 LEGO Watch System was produced for adults, unlike its predecessors–no Nexo Knights minifigures included with these. The designs ranged from zero LEGO design references–like a black and yellow dial with arabic numerals that just featured the LEGO logo–to those with subtle LEGO design cues–such as the models with two-stud LEGO pieces for indices–to models that wanted zero confusion about who made these watches–like the model that features a pirate skull and crossbones made out of LEGO bricks or the one that’s just a big LEGO minifig face in the middle of the dial.

Uniting all of these disparate aesthetics is a modular design that lets you switch and swap parts. The bezels, straps or bracelets and their links are all interchangeable, giving owners increased customization over their timepieces. Powered by a Japanese quartz movement and with between 50m to 100m of water resistance depending on the model, the watches have a little more heft to them than you would expect from what conceptually sounds like a toy.


The design execution also goes above and beyond what you’d think when you hear the phrase “LEGO watch.” There are digital watches with stopwatch features, analog watches with day and date functions, and three-subdial watches that track the day, date, and 24 hour day. One watch even features a sandwich dial. The coolest of the bunch, however, has to be one that pulls its design DNA from classic chronographs, complete with a tachymeter and two LEGO brick registers. The watch does not, alas, seem to actually function as a chronograph beyond what you can time with the seconds hand as the registers track day and date rather than minutes and hours. It still looks cool though, particularly in the blacked out model with yellow and blue highlights.

The white dial model with red highlights and three subdials is also quite striking, and with the red bezel on it, it bears more than a passing resemblance to the Omega Speedmaster Alaska Project–a Moonswatch before Moonswatch, if you will. 

The watches retailed for between $85 and $185 and while as best as I can tell LEGO retired the line around 2015, they seem to still go in that range for the most part on the secondhand market. You can probably get better watches for the price–LEGO built these pieces with a mix of aluminum, stainless steel, and plastic, and the plastic parts have a tendency to warp, crack, or break, particularly the bezels. But it’s hard to imagine you can find a watch that’s as whimsical or that awakens childhood nostalgia in quite the same way. 

National LEGO Day may have passed us by, but it’s not too late to celebrate, and for the watch enthusiasts who are also LEGO fans, there’s no better way to celebrate than by picking up one of these pieces.

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Alec is a writer and editor based out of Washington, DC, currently working as a congressional reporter. His love for wristwatches started at age 10 when he received a Timex Expedition as a birthday present. A film buff and tennis fan, Cary Grant and Roger Federer played influential roles in continuing to develop his interest and taste in watches.