Spiro Agnew watch
A Spiro Agnew watch is a novelty watch featuring a cartoon depiction of the former Vice President of the United States Spiro Agnew.
Spiro T. Agnew was a former Republican Governor of Maryland, and was chosen by Richard Nixon as his candidate for Vice President during the 1968 election. He became the first Greek American to serve in the role, but his relationship between himself and President Nixon deteriorated quickly after their election victory.
Agnew was a vocal critic of anti-war protestors and liberal demonstrators throughout the Vietnam War, and was seen as a joke by many Democrats. His public persona became a caricature, and a popular joke asked the question “Did you know that Mickey Mouse wore a Spiro Agnew watch?”
The Californian Democrat Dr. Hale E. Dougherty decided to design and market the watches as another joke, but was amazed when they became popular across the United States. Agnew soon became annoyed by the watch which portrayed him as a ‘cartoon character’ and attempted to sue Dougherty, although the case was eventually settled out of court.
In 1973 Agnew became the first ever U.S Vice President to be forced from office by criminal charges, when he was accused of extortion, tax fraud, bribery and conspiracy. He resigned and later pleaded guilty to tax evasion, less than a year before Nixon was himself forced from the White House due to the Watergate scandal. A joke of the day was, "What sound does the Spiro Agnew watch make? dump-Dick dump-Dick dump-Dick." …. but ironically Spiro was out before Nixon.
Collecting Spiro Agnew Watches
The watches were hugely popular during the early 1970s, but this popularity created a huge number of fake models and knock-offs. Only the genuine original watches are valuable to collectors.
Original models were made by the Dirty Time Company, and their name or D.T.C. will appear on the watch face. Agnew appears wearing a red, white and blue stars and stripes outfit, and the watch hands (which represent Agnew’s arms) each feature a hand in a red glove on the end, one hand showing the "Peace" sign and the other showing the "B.S." sign. Knock-off watches had ordinary watch hands and inferior graphics.
Only the numbers 12, 3, 6 and 9 are shown, with the remaining numbers replaced with blue stars. Half the number 12 will be obscured by Agnew’s head, with the number 6 partially blocked by his feet. The words “Swiss made” will appear, either side of the number 6. The watch face will also feature the mark “Spiro Agnew Original”.
Original models from 1971 are valued at between $50 - $100 in good condition, whereas imitations are worth less than $5.