Anti-semitic lizards. But why.
February 13, 2013 8:16 AM   Subscribe

What's up with the swastikas on my watch?

This is a 12 dollar children's watch from Target. It has lizards on it. Clearly not an intentionally subversive item. For reasons relating to battery life, clutter, and laziness, I have four copies of this watch. I was on at least watch two (maybe three?) before someone pointed out to me, hey, there are swastikas on your watch.

I've been wearing this watch for a good 6-7 years now (it's comfortable and actually fits my absurdly small wrists; also it has lizards) and the swastika thing comes up from time to time. Never in the since-when-are-you-a-nazi sense, but more in the that's-weird-I-wonder-why sense.

This seems like the kind of thing you could google for (just noticed my son's watch has nazi symbols on it! scandal! outrage!), but no dice. Seems that Timex is still selling this watch, but the astute observer will notice that they've ditched the swastika thing for a swirly bit and jacked up the price another ten bucks (and the lizards look kind of portly).

I know it's a common and not-evil symbol worldwide, but I'm wondering--does it have any special significance to the lizards? How does something like this slip by unnoticed for 5 years (at least--I'm just going by the time between my first and last purchases of the original version of the watch). I'm pretty tied to this watch by now so I'm not going to stop wearing it anytime soon...any info I can give folks who ask about it would be great.
posted by phunniemee to Grab Bag (37 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The symbols aren't swastikas... Each 'end' has an extra change of direction that a swastika does not have. It's similar, sure, but it's not a swastika.
posted by colourmebrad at 8:21 AM on February 13, 2013 [7 favorites]

They look like badly drawn mini lizards to me.
posted by ambrosen at 8:23 AM on February 13, 2013

Tell them you're really interested in the teachings of David Icke. Because when it comes to lizards and anti-semitism, he's your go-to guy.
posted by Jehan at 8:29 AM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

I agree that they probably aren't supposed to be swastikas. But there's nothing about those little stylized ends that'll change that impression, for most people. I wonder if the doodads were supposed to be ornate squares or curlicues, and got warped a bit by the design/manufacturing process.
posted by Coatlicue at 8:30 AM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

You can see the same design at the 12 mark on the watch face, actually. Photo isn't sharp enough to really analyze it, but it just seems to be a lizardly swirly 'thing'.
posted by colourmebrad at 8:32 AM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Maybe meant to be a Native American whirling logs design?
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 8:33 AM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yep, going by the lizards, I was going to say "poorly thought-out Native American-ish design."
posted by griphus at 8:36 AM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

("Poorly thought-ought" as in "perhaps we shouldn't sell things with what appears to be a swastika," not that Native Americans have bad traditional designs.)
posted by griphus at 8:37 AM on February 13, 2013

I like the David Icke interpretation.

Here's a better picture of the poorly thought out design on the watch face, from It's definitely more swastikish than lizardly. I think.
posted by phunniemee at 8:40 AM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's not a swastika. This is a lizard and an octopus dancing. You can't see the octopus's other four tentacles from above because he is standing on them.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:50 AM on February 13, 2013 [17 favorites]

I think your lizards are oriented the opposite direction to a used-by-Nazism swastika (I'm terrible at looking at orientation even when flipping between pictures, but I did spend some time flipping between your picture and Wikipedia). I also doubt Timex would know this or take it into consideration when designing watchbands.
posted by hoyland at 8:51 AM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

New design looks better anyways - better weave quality on the band, and clearer graphics. Invest in one o' them.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:56 AM on February 13, 2013

I can't say that I know what they were thinking, but I really want you to email the Timexpo Museum and see what, if anything, they might say. It's such an odd place (in a good way) and it would crack me up if your inquiry led to a little mini exhibit about the time they realized they were making Nazi lizard watches and switched to unassuming little swirls instead.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 9:06 AM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

I emailed the Timexpo folks. We shall see.
posted by phunniemee at 9:16 AM on February 13, 2013

I only see swastikas. Aww. You have little Nazi lizards on your watch. But it looks like some sort of inspired-by-something image that, when shrunk (on the face) or stitched turns from attractive windmill thing to inappropriate but not double checked. And then once someone complained, they probably just switched it over as silently as possible because you don't want Nazi associations on your kiddie watches.

The watch is really adorable, swastikas or no.
posted by jeather at 9:20 AM on February 13, 2013

Not to be that girl, but the picture of the "new" design on the timex page? Totally looks 'shopped to me

There's a sort of halo around the swirlies that doesn't seem to be there around the lizard, and the swirlies (especially the one on the watch face itself) look strangely sharper than the rest of the images.

So, I think it's obvious that they didn't want swastikas, they wanted a cool geometric swirly type deal (maybe native inspired, maybe not). Sadly for them, cool geometric swirly type things look like swastikas (because swastikas, in and of themselves, are pretty cool looking, tbh). Someone probably mentioned this, so they at least cleaned up the image on their website -- I have a funny feeling that they haven't actually changed the products though.
posted by sparklemotion at 9:25 AM on February 13, 2013 [5 favorites]

Well, the arms of the swastika faces the opposite side compared to the Nazi symbol. If they are Nazi lizards they aren't very good ones.
posted by schroedinger at 9:29 AM on February 13, 2013

I think they were going for sort of a native/central-american symbol thingy. There's a good chart about halfway down this page showing that the Aztecs used this kind of swastika-with-extra-joints symbol, but the extra joints are too small on your watchband to register very well to the casual viewer. FWIW, I found this image by googling "Aztec swastika," which was the first description that came to mind, and which brings up tons of results similar to what's on your watchband.
posted by vytae at 9:34 AM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have a funny feeling that they haven't actually changed the products though.

For what it's worth, the last time the battery ran out I went to Target to buy a new one, and they didn't have any lizard ones. Butterflies, sports, camo: yes. Lizards: no. Sometimes I check just for fun, and they haven't had my little nazi lizards in years.

The new image is clearly doctored, but I think it's entirely possible they've stopped making the swastika watches.

If they are Nazi lizards they aren't very good ones.

Are you implying that there are good Nazi lizards? HMMMMMM.

The watch is really adorable, swastikas or no.

I know, right!?
posted by phunniemee at 9:35 AM on February 13, 2013

They're not swastikas. Despite that, it's probably worth nothing that swastikas have a very rich, mostly positive history with many different cultures well before (try like 3 thousand years before) the Nazis ruined everything.
posted by two lights above the sea at 9:36 AM on February 13, 2013

I am leaning towards poorly made native american art. The design above the 12 (on the face) seems to be clearly not a swastika. This one seems to be an alternate.
posted by asra at 9:51 AM on February 13, 2013

They are facing the opposite direction of the Nazi swastika, assuming they are swastikas. As for the connection, I think it is inadvertent and they were going for something "artsy".

I hasten to add that use of the swastika is not merely American Indian. It is found in a number of east Asian traditions. For example, it is used to mark Buddhist temples on maps in Japan such as this.

卍 is also the title of a book by my screen namesake.
posted by Tanizaki at 10:13 AM on February 13, 2013

The lizard watches seem to have been taken down from the Timex page. I think they found this convo and quietly removed it. The link redirects to the main page now, and that product is nowhere to be seen on the site.
Basically AskMefi is Inglourious Basterds today
posted by pseudostrabismus at 10:23 AM on February 13, 2013 [3 favorites]

The lizard watches seem to have been taken down from the Timex page.

Wait, really? Is this a cookie thing? It's still up on my end. But oh man, if it's gone, this is like a new level of internet awesome for me.
posted by phunniemee at 10:38 AM on February 13, 2013

Works for me and it was the first time I loaded it, so it's not a cache or cookie thing.

Looks like they realized the swastika resemblance and redesigned.
posted by rocketpup at 10:43 AM on February 13, 2013

The link didn't work for me and sent me to the main page, but searching for "lizard watch" on the site brought it up, i assumed it was a location thing (I'm in the UK)
posted by stillnocturnal at 10:49 AM on February 13, 2013

It's on Amazon with the old pattern. Only one of the reviews mentions swastikas.
posted by brentajones at 10:53 AM on February 13, 2013

It's a Native American symbol. Pretty standard stuff.

But to me, as a Jew, still swastika. Or certainly swastika enough.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 11:05 AM on February 13, 2013

I have the same watch! I wore it for years, then it stopped working, even with new battery.
posted by mareli at 11:06 AM on February 13, 2013

Also on Amazon. Hmm.
posted by makonan at 11:41 AM on February 13, 2013

Those are no lizards - they are gekkos and everybody knows that not only are gekkos Nazis, but they are also racist.
posted by jen14221 at 2:07 PM on February 13, 2013 [4 favorites]

Timex just does the annoying thing of redirecting any non-US visitors to its international website. The item is still on the site and the picture (same as on Amazon) is hilariously obviously 'shopped. This one on Amazon remains undoctored, though.

You're not the first one to notice, and this person reports that the design really has changed to swirls.
posted by Gordafarin at 2:28 PM on February 13, 2013

My 4-year-old son has this same watch! I don't think those symbols are swastikas, but we still won't let him wear it to Hebrew school.
posted by Leontine at 8:51 PM on February 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

It seems vaguely inspired by Native American rock art or archaeological ceramics designs, so yeah, whirling log, or four directions, etc., and not related to Nazi swastikas except superficially in form.

The particular swastika form on the watch band is what is sometimes called a meander swastika, and you see a lot of connected swastikas in some forms of meander design. Connected swastika meander designs show up, for example, in Tibetan rugs as an auspicious symbol - here's an example of a connected meander swastika border from this article.
posted by gudrun at 9:07 PM on February 13, 2013

They look more like Space Invaders to me.
posted by Pax at 7:54 AM on February 14, 2013

Yeah, speaking of, what us up with the alien? That's the thing that seems out of place to me.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:19 AM on February 14, 2013

Picture of the new version of the band, with the swirls. In case anyone still cares.
posted by Too-Ticky at 9:02 AM on January 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

« Older I can SEE that this is a burned disk.   |   Website updates without RSS Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.