"The first pic of Houdini standing by the pool I see he is wearing a wristwatch and this is the only pic I have ever seen of Houdini wearing a watch that I can remember. Does anyone know what brand of watch Houdini wore? (watch enthusiast here)!"
At the time I didn't have any information for him, and I even doubted whether it was a wristwatch. We all know of Houdini's pocket watch (a present from Bessie which famously contains his actual birthdate), so I wasn't convinced Houdini ever wore a wristwatch. I thought maybe this was a band to monitor his pulse during the Shelton buried alive test.
But now, thanks to The Culliton Papers, we have information on, yes, Houdini's wristwatch!
According to an article which appeared in The New York World under the terrific headline: "Dainty Darby Grips Iron Wrist Of Houdini In Resistless Clutch", Houdini was given a wristwatch by The World editors during a birthday luncheon at Moneta's restaurant at 32 Mulberry Street in New York City in commemoration of his first year "as a newspaperman".
|Click to enlarge|
The article notes that this is the first wristwatch Houdini "has ever had on -- his wrists are more familiar with the grip of the handcuffs from which he so easily escapes than the gentler grasp of a leather strap". It goes on to quote Houdini as saying it is "one fetter from which he will never be freed by any action of his own."
The clipping is without a date, but as Red Magic started in 1924, we can assume Houdini received this watch in 1925 (presumably April 6). This means it is almost certainly the watch we see in the Shelton photo, which was taken in August 1926. Unfortunately, the article gives no indication of what kind of wristwatch was presented to Houdini that day, but our eagle-eyed reader offers up one suggestion:
"I actually have a watch that looks similar to the one Houdini appears to be wearing. Its a 1925 Waltham in a tonneau style case. I cant say its THE watch but sure does look similar."
Of course, this raises the inevitable question. Where is this wristwatch today?
By the way, Moneta's remained in business until the 1940s, and the original Moneta's name could still be seen on the building at 32 Mulberry Street until at least 2010 when it was converted into a Parisian nightclub called La Baron.
Publication dates for Red Magic came from the invaluable Houdini Periodical Bibliography by Arthur Moses.
- Willard's side
- Houdini and the Transatlantic Flight
- Miracle Mongers the Movie
- Did Houdini have claustrophobia?
- What happens in Vegas...