Germany 1948 – Spy Camera – Custom film – Very Rare.
The ABC Wristwatch camera, designed by Austrian Chemist Rudolph Steineck was first introduced in 1948 and was produced for 3 years.
This fancy looking wristwatch is in reality a disguised sub-miniature camera allowing to take discreet photographs while pretending to check for the time. It supports eight exposures on a custom disc of film 25 mm in diameter. The film can be stamped from standard 35 mm.
A small square mirror with a central pin acts as a rudimentary viewfinder letting an agent to carefully aim the camera.
The button on the side of the watch snaps the photo and advances the film in one operation, allowing multiple consecutive shots. The exposure number is visible on the back of the watch, forcing you to remove the watch if you wanted to check.
The Steineck is a typical product of post-war Germany, deep rooted in the cold war culture of espionage. It is not clear if this watch was designed to be used in real-life undercover situations since the very stylish design would probably give it away immediately. In this, it relates to the Kiew 30 “JPS” that was more of a novelty than a real spycam.
Rudolph Steineck later created another wristwatch camera, the incredible Tessina. While being incredible innovative designs, both cameras tend to demonstrate that cameras are just not made to be worn on a wrist.