December is upon every Star Wars fan in this, or any other galaxy not so far away. It won’t be long now until the ninth installment of the franchise hits theatres. With devout fans spanning multiple generations worth of time it can be easy (for some) to forget that Episodes 4, 5, and 6 were the first to be made. With ho-hum reviews abounding for Episodes 1-3 (the “prequel” trilogy) many fans were excited to see Disney’s most recent acquisition take the Star Wars story to new heights. With similar ho-hum reviews for the newer films, however, hopefully this ninth movie does better with critics—no matter what happens at the box office. Now, like most folks in America, we’ve at least seen Episodes 4-6 here at TimesTicking. Today we wanted to do a shoutout to one of Star Wars’ most charismatic original characters. We’re talking about Billy Dee Williams’ portrayal of Han Solo’s associate—Lando Calrissian. His wrist-bound tech in The Empire Strikes Back plays its own role in the film with futuristic styling to boot. Though it’s not a traditional timepiece, it’s one of the few examples of a futuristic watch-like gadget in Star Wars.
Cloud City Conflict
We’re not entirely sure if it’s necessary to write “spoiler alert” over a film that came out nearly 40 years ago—but there are some Empire Strikes Back facts in this post today (be warned). Where Lando Calrissian’s watch comes into play is during a key scene in the story. Context: Han Solo, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, R2D2, and C3PO have made their way to Cloud City (aka Bespin) in hopes of laying low from the Galactic Empire—after a major battle on the planet Hoth which destroyed a Rebel Alliance base (a significant blow to the good guys). Solo suggests going to see Lando Calrissian because Lando’s Bespin operation works outside of the jurisdiction of the Empire. What is meant to be a safe haven turns out to be a trap. Lando initially sells out the film’s heroes to Darth Vader directly as a contract to protect Cloud City. Well, our be-wristwatch’d double-crosser gets double-crossed by the Empire after handing over Han Solo and Leia (big surprise). Thankfully Lando has the resources to break (almost) everyone free from this dilemma. While all are being escorted by StormTroopers out of Bespin, Lando uses his comms wristwatch to activate his friend Lobot. In a move that looks like sending a text on a smartwatch, Lobot pops awake (“new android, who dis?”). Lobot accepts the message and rallies Bespin’s armed guards to fight off the Empire’s military presence in the city. Without Lando’s watch, all heroes would very likely be on an interrogation table somewhere far far away.
Return of the Comms Watch
After the events of The Empire Strikes Back Lando is fully invested in the Rebel Alliance. His outlaw abilities must be getting him by pretty well—because throughout his role in Return of the Jedi (Episode 6) he’s rocking a sleekly updated comms watch. Unfortunately this wrist-piece is never used but it arguably has a much better design than Lando’s Cloud City original.
Science Fiction itself is no stranger to adapting real-life technology to the silver screen and making something new out of it. The same rings true for real life imitating the arts. Smartwatches were still lightyears away from invention in both Episodes 5 and 6 of Star Wars. However, wireless communication with android devices is now a modern reality—for some these gadget timepieces are the apple of their eye. Much like the flip phone being directly reflective of Star Trek’s comms, Billy Dee Williams’ Lando was likely an influence on young geeks who wanted to make his tech a reality. Perhaps that’s something worth keeping in mind while purchasing tickets for Episode 9 from your wristwatch this holiday season (in under 12 parsecs, no doubt). We’ll keep the Falcon warm for you if you end up frozen in carbonite, we promise.
A Donald Glover Update
With 2018s cinematic release of the film Solo: A Star Wars Story, the role of Lando Calrissian was reprised by Donald Glover. To celebrate this reprisal, watchmaker Nixon released their Time Tracker SW “Lando”. This piece is far less futuristic but features a bold yellow dial—referencing Glover’s wardrobe in the Solo film. As well, since Calrissian was the original owner of the Millenium Falcon, Nixon has included said starship on the seconds hand of the watch. Furthermore, the Falcon is featured on the caseback—flying right above the famous quote, “I don’t like these odds”. It’s a straightforward stainless steel case-and-band wristwatch from Nixon, aside from those key features. Sure to make any Star Wars and wristwatch fan in the fam excited, this Lando Calrissian watch is still available from Nixon—but all are currently sold out. We don’t like those odds, either, but it will be well worth the wait for any new stock.
Times Ticking has been in operation for more than 30 years, since 1982. We have performed watch repair for customers both locally and internationally. If it Ticks! We KNOW it! Our team of watch repair technicians have a combined experience in watchmaking of over 120 years.