Tech has certainly come a long way since 1946, but gosh darn it if some of us aren’t still hankering after comic detective Dick Tracy’s two-way wristwatch radio, the spy gadget introduced in the cartoon strip that year. Fortunately, almost three-quarters of a century later, an officially licensed working version of the iconic spy gadget is finally here. Well, almost here.
Created by Connecticut-based brothers Nick and Charlie Mathis, the Dick Tracy Watch not only looks like the timepiece featured in the early comics (note: Not the one with the TV screen embedded as featured in later stories) — it actually works, too. That is thanks to an integrated Bluetooth module, microphone, and speaker, allowing you to make and receive calls from a paired smartphone.
“Since we were kids, we’ve wanted the real Dick Tracy watch, but no one ever made it,” Nick Mathis, owner of the Ivory and Horn company behind the project, told Digital Trends. “Even during the excitement of the smartwatch boom, each new wearable was exciting and awesome, [but] also a bit of a letdown. So in 2015, I got to making my own Dick Tracy watch in my workshop — at the time, an apartment closet — using Fusion 360, a desktop CNC machine, and 3D printing through Shapeways. After posting pictures online, emails began to steadily flood my inbox asking to buy it. A person even offer $5,000 if I’d make him one!”
Stories like this helped convince the Mathis siblings that their crazy dream was not exclusive to them. In 2016, they decided to purchase an official license to make the two-way wrist radio a reality. Close to three years later, they finally achieved what they were hoping for.
As a watch, it’s very attractive, with a vintage-style stainless steel body, sapphire crystal face, mesh grill to cover the speakerphone components and oil-tanned leather strap. Of course, the look is only one part of the package. While this device won’t do things like track your steps or let you send Animojis, it does convincingly replicate the smart functionality of the gadget as it appeared on the page. In a nod to 2018, there is also a button designed to activate your phone’s voice assistant.
As ever, we offer our usual cautions about the risks inherent in crowdfunding campaigns. However, if you’re keen to go ahead and get involved, head over to the project’s Indiegogo page. A pledge of $324 should secure you a unit, with shipping set to take place in December. You better hurry, though — only 1,000 of these are being made!