Like his Swiss Army Knife, the Timex watch was part of MacGyver’s iconic Every Day Carry kit in the first 3 and a half seasons – he lost the watch in the ‘Runners’ episode when he had to pawn* it to pay for his gas after Jennifer Reiner stole all the money out of his jacket pocket while giving him a hug. This windup watch fits MacGyver’s function over fashion sensibilities perfectly. The simple analog dial gives both 12 and 24-hour reading. The windup function means he never has to worry about flat batteries and the 30-meter water resistance lets the watch take a dip without any problems.
The watch itself is a Timex ‘Camper’ brand which was originally designed as a disposable wind-up watch for the marines1 in the early ’80s, but due to the cost of meeting the military’s strict specifications, Timex abandoned the idea and continued to market the watch to the public as the ‘Camper’ through the ’80s and ’90s before discontinuing production. The watch body is a one-piece plastic case incorporating solid lugs for the strap to slide through (as per the military requirements at the time). It has no removable back due to the intention of it being a disposable wind-up so no maintenance or battery access was needed.
In 2016 Timex re-released the original Camper under the new name MK1. The watch keeps the design and resin body, but is no longer disposable and has a battery-powered Quartz movement and includes their trademark Indiglo night light function. In 2017 they updated the design with a larger 40mm aluminum case version and in 2018 a stainless steel version.
*Pawning is using an item as a security deposit against a loan. The item is returned upon settlement of the loan or sold to cover the loss if the loan is defaulted. In the case of MacGyver, he would have given his watch to the gas station on the understanding that he would return to pay for the gas (at which time he gets the watch back) and if he didn’t pay for it they could sell his watch to cover their loss. As the amount of gas he put in would only have been around $30 (gas was 50c per gallon back then) the watch would have easily covered the amount.
Season 1 – 4