Mickey Mouse celebrates the Space Age on Disney100 Citizen watch
June 1, 2023
— Mickey Mouse has landed on the "face" of the moon.
Face, that is, of a wristwatch created to pay homage to The Walt Disney Company and when its 100-year history intersected with the height of the space race.
Citizen's new "Mickey Astronaut" timepiece features the iconic cartoon mouse as he takes on the role of an astronaut, setting up equipment on the lunar surface. Part of a 14-piece collection that celebrates Disney100 throughout the decades, the Disney x Citizen Mickey Mouse Astronaut watch marks a period where the future of space exploration was reflected in Disney's "Tomorrowland" television specials and with park attractions like "Mission to the Moon" and Space Mountain.
"As part of our year-long celebration for Disney's 100th anniversary, Citizen's latest watch release commemorates the height of the Space Age in the 70s-80s, with Disney's Mickey Mouse depicted as an astronaut on the moon," said Eric Horowitz, managing director for Citizen Watch America. "When Disney goes big, we go big, so you could say we're shooting for the stars with this one."
On Thursday (June 1), Citizen updated its companion "Wonders of Time" website to share a behind-the-scenes look at the design of the Mickey Astronaut watch, featuring its artist, Jeff Shelly, who was director of character art for Imagineering — Disney Parks, Experiences and Consumer Products for 28 years.
"Drawing Disney's Mickey Mouse is always fun for me, especially when I'm drawing him in a role-playing situation," said Shelly. "Think of him as an actor. He can be a scuba diver, a race car driver, a pirate on the high seas, a caveman and even an astronaut."
And not just any astronaut; for this watch, Shelly drew on his own interests from his childhood.
"I chose the Apollo-style spacesuit for two reasons. The first reason is the decade we chose for the astronaut watch, late sixties, early seventies," Shelly wrote in an interview by email with collectSPACE. "The second is more personal."
"I was 4 years old watching Neil [Armstrong] and Buzz [Aldrin] landed on the moon and ever since I've been a huge fan of their spacesuits," he said. "It's probably one of the most well designed and coolest things humans have created."
Shelly's passion for the NASA garb comes through in his art. Mickey's spacesuit is detailed with red and blue hose connectors, a portable life support system backpack and blue silicone-bottomed overshoes that left the now iconic bootprints on the moon (both in real life and on the watch's lunar surface dial).
Mickey is even wearing a watch over his gauntlet, just like the astronauts wore.
"I love looking at the old photos of the Apollo astronauts and seeing a watch strapped around the outside of their bulky spacesuits. So simple and it worked," said Shelly. "They might lose track of time on the moon since the sun doesn't set on the moon and also gauge their oxygen time."
Shelly also found a way to tie in the watch's moving features into his artwork. As depicted on the watch, Mickey is kneeling down and tinkering with a three-legged device that at its top merges into the real hour, minute and second hands. Similarly, another piece of equipment topped by an antenna displays the date on its "screen."
"I wanted him [Mickey] to interact somehow with the hands and date window. Then I remembered astronauts on the moon having all kinds of equipment with them to do experiments. This is when my creativity kicked in and [I] started to make these gadgets up to fit in his world," Shelly told collectSPACE.
The 42mm stainless steel analog watch has a red and black bezel and an Eco-Drive Ring, the latter allowing it to powered by any light source, eliminating the need to replace batteries. Shelly's illustration of Astronaut Mickey is luminescent, such that it glows in the dark. The case back features the Disney logo.
Citizen is the official timepiece of the Walt Disney World and Disneyland resorts in Florida and California, respectively, and the timekeeper of the Walt Disney World runDisney Races. Citizen's proprietary Super Titanium alloy is used by ispace for its series of Hakuto-R commercial lunar landers.
Citizen's Mickey Mouse Astronaut watch pays homage to The Walt Disney Company and when its 100-year history intersected with the height of the Space Age. (Citizen)
Former Disney character artist Jeff Shelly drew Mickey Mouse and his surroundings on the moon for Citizen's watch face. (Citizen)
Illustrator Jeff Shelly's final artwork for the Disney x Citizen Mickey Mouse Astronaut watch. (Citizen)
Astronaut Mickey Mouse has a luminescent finish such that he and the stars above glow in the dark on Citizen's watch. (Citizen)
The Mickey Mouse Astronaut watch is part of Citizen's Disney100 collection, celebrating 100 years of The Walt Disney Company. (Citizen)