M*A*S*H has spun off countless licensed products over the last fifty years, and it isn’t too often you get to see the finished products along with some of the documentation from the development process. This week, let’s take a look at two watches produced by Bradley Time Division (at the time part of Elgin). We will also explore letters between Bradley and Twentieth Century Fox as well as some concept drawings. I love watches, so finding a M*A*S*H watch really caught my attention. Let’s take a look!
While these letters don’t give away too many details, but they do provide insight into the product licensing and marketing process. The first letter, dated June 20, 1983, is from Bradly to Fox. In it, they describe new packaging for the M*A*S*H watches that will make them easier to display on shelving, thus easier to sell in more locations. A few things we can learn from this letter is that M*A*S*H watches were already on the market in 1983. They are asking for Fox’s approval of the updated design to the packaging.
The second letter is Fox’s response to Bradley. Dated June 27, 1983, just seven days later, the letter approves the updated packaging, but points out some changes that need to be made. The first is an update to the copyright line. The second change is very interesting in that it appears they have placed the asterisks in M*A*S*H in the incorrect position on the packaging. They prefer that the asterisks appear in the middle of the letters and not at the type (which is curious since a typewriter or computer would default them to a top justification). Even in the opening credits, the M*A*S*H logo features the asterisks near the top. Nevertheless, it is interesting to see how closely Fox monitored the use of their intellectual property.
I have two Bradley watches in my collection. What is amazing about both is that they still work! They are not mechanical, so to find 40+ year old quartz watches that haven’t suffered corrosion is pretty incredible. The watches are very different styles despite sharing a similar dial design. The M*A*S*H logo appears along with 4077th at the top. At the bottom, we see a drawing of the Bell H-13 Sioux helicopter used in the series. The watch on the left features a faux leather band and is dramatically smaller than the other. This was likely made for a young child. The watch with the rubber strap on the right has a larger band, but it does not fit my 7″ wrist. These were definitely not made for adults!
Finally, I have three different concept designs from Bradley, and they each have a unique story. First, we see the packaging described in the letters (far left of the image above). The M*A*S*H logo is at the top, the packaging has a great green and yellow design, and features are listed on the packaging. We see an outline where the watch would be attached to the cardboard backing. In fact, the smaller of the two watches fits perfectly in this outline (see the image in the slideshow below). This drawing was created like an animation cell in that there is a printed background with a colored transparency attached. This allowed Fox to see how the design would look once color was added. It is great to have this concept along with the letters!
The last two art concepts are not for either of the watches that I own, but I think they warrant individual attention. The concept in the center features the M*A*S*H logo with a series of Roman Numerals around the dial. It would have been square and featured an analog design. This appears to be an adult version of the watch since it isn’t digital nor does it have any illustration on the dial. I also appreciate that they added military time around the outside ring of the dial.
The second concept is far more interesting to me. I love the dial design. It has a tent, front of an ambulance, and a trash can. The dial indicates that the watch would feature a musical alarm that I hope played the theme song! The LCD screen featured a M*A*S*H logo along with the time. But the M*A*S*H logo would, for some reason, appear in sequence one letter and asterisk at a time. I want one of these watches! But along with the watch with Roman Numerals, there is no evidence that either watch was ever produced and sold. I have only ever seen the dial design with the helicopter.
As an archive, this collection of documents from Bradley Time Division, along with two of the Bradley watches, provides insight into how the licensing process worked for M*A*S*H items. The letters illustrate the relationship companies had with Fox and how Fox ensured its intellectual property was protected. The concept drawings show how Fox would have been presented with ideas that they could then approve or deny. Finally, the two watches complete the process with two tangible items that resulted from the relationship between the two companies. But there is a mystery. Were either of the concept watches ever produced? For me, the search continues!