A Wristwatch Made Specially for '24: Live Another Day'
U.S. Agency Watch Company owner Mike Gee had just under 10 weeks to design and manufacture six working watches for actors on the Fox series.
Viewers who watch 24: Live Another Day, which premiered May 5 on Fox, might have noticed a compelling timepiece designed specifically for the show worn by a few of the key characters. Known as the CTU1 24 Watch, it is one of two timepieces made for the show, and they also happen to go on sale to the general public starting in July.
While timepieces are sometimes made for use in TV shows and movies, they are generally just props, not actual working items. In this case, the producers of 24: Live Another Day reached out to the U.S. Agency Watch Company to create a genuine watch befitting the fast-paced show.
But company owner Mike Gee had precious little time to complete the task. Producers reached out to him just a few months before filming began on Jack Bauer's (Kiefer Sutherland) return to television. In the end, Gee had just under 10 weeks to design and manufacture six working watches, including pieces for actors Gbenga Akinnagbe (who plays Erik Ritter) and Giles Matthey (as Jordan Reed) -- an incredible challenge.
His instructions were few: Create a watch that told people the time where they currently were, the time where they might be going, and how to get there. With these prompts, Gee developed a large military-style watch with two 12-hour time zone dials on the face and a working analog compass. "24" as well as "CTU" (for Counter Terrorism Unit) are printed on the dial. The steel case is an imposing 48 mm wide and was intended to make for a bold, legible look. "It was a pain but an interesting challenge. I needed to make them fit on characters I'd never seen but could also imagine. Also, my design philosophy is to do watches that no one else has done before, so they needed to be original," says Gee.
Gee was then able to negotiate a licensing agreement allowing his company to sell the watches to the public. The going rate for the CTU1 -- which has the CTU insignia from the show engraved on the back of the case – is $249.
For Gee, selling branded 24 watches is the culmination of a 9-year process. He'd first approached the show in 2005 about getting watches put on the show as product placements. He didn't get any immediate response. But he finally got a call from some producers at Fox about placing a watch on the arm of the show's protagonist after 24 ended a relationship with a different placement company over a dispute.
At the time, in 2005, the entrepreneur was working at -- and doing some product placement for -- Los Angeles-based watch company MTM, which bills itself as producing "special ops" watches for military professionals and other active-duty types.
In 2008, when the the show ended, Gee sought a licensing arrangement with Fox and 24 to produce 24- and/or Jack Bauer-branded watches for sale to the general public. Unfortunately Fox and the producers had little interest at the time. Post-MTM, Gee established his U.S. Agency Watch Company, which also makes branded watches through licenses with the FBI and CIA as well as watches in conjunction with the founder of SEAL Team Six Richard Marcinko. Gee's placed his watches on television shows and in movies such as Transformers, The Unit, NCIS and Criminal Minds.
In addition to the two-time-zone CTU1 watch, a more simple three-hand CTU model in an even larger 53 mm-wide case size will be available and priced at $99.95.
For more info, visit www.usagencywatches.com.
Ariel Adams is a watch expert and founder of aBlogtoWatch.com.