By this point it should come as a surprise to exactly no one that I (Alena) am a massive Ianto Jones (Torchwood) fangirl. I’ve cosplayed Ianto, designed formal outfits based on Ianto, left fanart at the Ianto Jones shrine in Cardiff… yeah.
obsession enthusiasm for the character, however, I’ve never been able to acquire an accurate version of his signature prop: the antique stopwatch given to him by Captain Jack Harkness, which makes repeated (and often humorous) appearances throughout the series:
I’ve tried to find the exact model (which, according to my research, is WWI Swiss military issue), but authentic ones – now over a century old – are rare and sell for hundreds of dollars, which is more than I can justify for a small prop that rarely leaves my pocket when I’m cosplaying.
Recently I found someone online selling an authentic Excelsior Lever watch face for $50, and was tempted to buy it. Then I thought, “wait a minute – why should I pay $50 for what is basically a flat image, when I’m just going to stick it inside another watch case anyway?” So I trolled auction sites for references and spent a few meaningful hours with Photoshop to recreate the watch face.
Next, the case to put it in! I needed watch and compass pieces for a couple of costumes, so I bought a lot of broken pocket watch parts on eBay. The package included this gutted watch case, which worked out to cost around $7 or $8. (Buying parts in bulk is often cheaper, but you can usually find individual watch cases for between $10 and $20.)
I printed my watch face in several sizes. The original Excelsior Lever face measured 46.15mm, but my watch case ended up being a tiny bit larger, so I had to experiment to find the right dimensions. I glued it to some junk mail cardstock to reinforce it:
Next, I trimmed and heat-shaped some tiny bits of black Worbla to make the hands:
On reflection, I think I’m actually going to replace the larger hand with an eye pin, which will have a slimmer profile and look more like the original watch hand. If you’re not familiar with eye pins, they’re sold in the jewelry making section of craft stores and look like this:
…But I didn’t have any of those in the house when I made this, so I’m including the Worbla for reference. Just realize you may have better options. (I mean, for that matter, you could just draw the hands on the paper and it would probably look fine! I wanted something dimensional, though.)
To attach the hands, I ran some fine wire around the center and poked it through a hole in the watch face to make a rudimentary hinge.
Then I positioned the hands where I wanted them and taped the wires in place on the back to keep them from spinning.
Then, the easiest step: Position the face inside the watch case and snap it shut! (Depending on the type of case you have, you may need to stick some foam or something in the case to fill in the empty gear space. I got lucky, and the cardstock fit exactly in the space behind the crystal, so I could leave that space empty.)
Oh, but there’s a bonus! This watch case happens to have a hinged back. So, naturally, in the spirit of the character, I had to put something inside there, too…
(I mean, it was Jack, or a picture of a cup of coffee.)
If you use my watch template for anything, I’d love to see what you do with it! Send me a photo of your finished product or tag us on social media.