Tardis Pocket Watch: a Mini Holiday Story




About: In which I turn the thoughts from my head into objects in my hands

This instructables is dedicated to the lovely Emily (emilyvanleemput), with whom I arranged a holiday gift swap. :)

The 18th of August this year began as a normal day. Granted, it was only a few days before I'd be making the physical transition to university life, but still--a fairly normal day. However, upon checking instructables.com I noticed an inbox message titled "Hi!" from the previously mentioned, ever so interesting emilyvanleemput. She had messaged me to introduce herself beyond the few brief comments we'd posted on each others' instructables. Before long we had shared little details about our days and weeks, and the more I learned about and shared to the amazing girl across the world from me, the more I wanted to keep learning and sharing. In an unassuming, simple message she had managed to gift me with something I didn't realize I wanted: a companion to talk to during the tumult of a college transition.

But relating back to this tutorial...

In one of our correspondences, she sent me this link along the topic of inspiring Etsy shops, and my mind immediately flashed to the bag of steampunk supplies that I purchased from the East Bay Mini Makers Faire. By the time I finished reading that message, my mind had already walked through the steps to recreate it for her, and well, the rest of the story is told in the next steps.

So I hope you enjoy your present, Emily!

I hope this project and the story behind it inspires others to reach out to others in the instructables community (or other forums); you may find someone living across the world sharing similar interests. One day out of the blue, I saw a message in my inbox from a courageous fellow instructables member wanting to say hi. Messages and messages later, we'd gushed about our shared appreciation for BBC's Sherlock, exchanged horror stories about tests, sharing our frustration with being women interested in STEM fields, and much more leading up to this holiday swap. So who knows; perhaps our holiday story can be yours in due time?

Step 1: Materials

  • pocket watch
  • knife or sharp object
  • scissors
  • printout of a Tardis (small enough to fit in the pocket watch)
  • old watch parts and miscellaneous items to add (beads, etc.)
  • brush + Mod Podge or similar glue
  • necklace chain

Step 2: Removing the Back

Using a flat blade of some sort, pry the back off your pocket watch. I ran the blade around the edge a few times to widen the gap before levering the back up, but do whatever works best in your case.

Step 3: Removing Guts

Use a fingernail to gently lift the white part holding the watch guts in place (not sure if this is in every pocket watch though). Then bend the watch innards up and out of the watch until they snap out. Be gentle! You might want to reuse the parts for other projects, and damaged parts usually aren't a great thing.

Step 4: Clasp

The top part immediately comes loose once you snap off the rest of the watch workings so you need to keep it secure while allowing the button part to act as a clasp. I had lots of trail-and-error type experiments for this so hopefully one of them will work for you:

  • I first tried cutting a bit of an eraser and using it like an earring backing to keep the point secured. It didn't work to well because the eraser fell off easily so I..
  • .. tried gluing the eraser to the point and rest of the watch. This didn't work to well, as the glues I had didn't work well on metal/rubber surfaces.
  • So my final solution (I actually got lucky so I don't suggest trying this) was using a hot glue gun to spurt a lot of glue at the hole where the button part enters and then shoving the button part in before the glue dried. It was hard to shove the part in because the glue didn't really have anywhere to go, but by some miracle everything worked out.
  • THE METHOD THAT I DO SUGGEST is simply gluing the underside of the button part (see fifth picture above) using some glue that works on metal-to-metal connections (E6000 perhaps?)

See this "underside" part? That's what I mean by underside. It's not a part of the plunging mechanism of the button part so glue this to keep the whole button clasp in place.

Step 5: Background Decoupage

Now that you've cleared out the insides, grab some designs to create a nice background for what you'll put inside. I printed out a small image of a Tardis (make sure it can fit inside the pocket watch before you print) and cut it out. The background for that Tardis image would make the background too dark for my liking so I cut out a small circle (traced the back of the pocket watch on a loose page of a really old--ancient, really--math textbook..) and glued that to the watch back before gluing the cut-out Tardis too.

Step 6: Additions

The REALLY creative part: emptying bags of miscellaneous materials (a bag of steampunk supplies purchased from Compass Rose Designs at a mini makers faire, in my case) and figuring out an interesting arrangement. Go crazy! Try different things, even if they don't make sense in the first place. I chose some watch parts to correspond with the time manipulation nature of the Tardis, but after adding them I wanted to have more blue to match the Tardis' blue. Thus. I pulled out some teal blue beads and arranged them (It was a spur-of-the-moment type of arrangement. Those sometimes miraculously turn out ok, thankfully.). Cover everything with generous coats of glue so you don't have to worry with objects falling off.

Note: wait for the glue to FULLY dry before reattaching the back of the watch. Once reattached, it's harder for the glue to dry and especially if it's water-based, condensation may form.

Step 7: Finished

Snap the back back (hehe) on the watch and string it all on a chain before flaunting that Dr. Who obsession!

And again, I hope this tutorial inspires you to reach out to that ever so intriguing person who commented on that one instructables of yours.

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    22 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Hi Adam

    I was looking at instructables and came across this article. My wife received the identical gift from her daughter for Christmas. We were both surprised and amazed at the beautiful watch. Please tell me about the term TARDIS . Is it the manufacturer; if so, where are they located? Emily was a lucky girl.

    2 replies

    Reply 2 years ago

    t.a.r.d.i.s. time and realative dimension in space. that's what tardis means.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction


    My previous response to your question was mysteriously deleted (so sorry about the wait) so I'll respond yet again: Tardis is something from the Dr. Who BBC TV series; it's the blue police box/time machine that you can see in step 5 above. As for the manufacturer, I received the pocket watch from a makers faire from Compass Rose Designs rather than an actual supplier so perhaps you could ask them for further information if you'd like. Hope this helps!


    4 years ago



    4 years ago

    this is so awesome! it's not like some fandom stuff I've seen, this is really elegant! and soooooo awesome

    1 reply