Ambassador Selectrophonic Country Western

Ambassador Selectrophonic Country Western

Melody watches were popular in the 1980s – very popular, which is why Casio made a stack of them, Seiko dipped their toes in the water with one, the A169 Melodica, and just about every watch that came out of Hong Kong at the time had a melody attached too.

A company in the USA, Springwood Electronics International, filed a trademark for the term ‘Selectrophonic’ on 17 April 1981 and as this watch dates to 1982, would indicate that Springwood Electronics was responsible for the technology in these watches which were released under watch brands Ambassador, Zeon, Cardinal, Delta Impex and probably others.

Interestingly, the same company also registered trademarks for ‘Alien Attacker’ and ‘Video Watch’ around the same time so were likely responsible for a number of the popular watches of the era.

So to the Selectrophonic watches. I say watches because there are (at least) four different versions, all of which play four different ‘selectable’ melodies.

This one is Country Western (maybe they didn’t have the room for Country and Western or Country & Western or perhaps just got lost in translation). It plays Dixie (not really country and western, but connected to the South, so … maybe; two John Denver classics – Take me Home, Country Roads and Rocky Mountain High; and, inexplicably, Moon River which is about as far away from Country and Western as it’s possible to go.

You set the alarm, and play a demo of the tune, by pressing the two right-hand buttons. The melody can be changed by pressing the two upper buttons (one of them is the light).

Functionality-wise, that’s about it — there’s the date as well, but primarily it’s big selling point is the four-melodies alarm.

The other versions of the watch are Rock Album, which plays four Beatles songs; Show Tunes, which presumably plays four show tunes; and one unlabelled version which I haven’t seen a demo of, so couldn’t guess what the songs might be.

They aren’t super-rare, but are uncommon, and are often non-working usually due to leaking batteries.

This one was one of those, received in well-worn condition and non-working, but fired into life with some repairs to the circuitry. The plating was mostly worn off and while it looked like a brass base was coming through the nickle plating, I suspect it was a pot metal base that had been gold-plated and the gold was mostly worn. In any case, a replate in nickle and it’s looking great for the next forty years…

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