Jimmy Olsen's Signal-Watch

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Jimmy Olsen's Signal Watch

Several years ago, Superman gave his pal, Jimmy Olsen, a signal-watch with which to call him in emergencies (SPJO No. 1/1, Sep/Oct 1954; and others). Though it looks like an ordinary time-piece, it is actually quite unique; for, by pressing a hidden signal-button, Jimmy can send a "zee-zee" sound which is inaudible to the human ear, but which is easily picked up by the Man of Steel's super-hearing. By altering the frequency, Jimmy can also send signals attuned to the ears of either Supergirl or Krypto the Superdog.

Silver, platinum and gold were used in its construction, as well as Tulanium from the planet Zumoor, Morabalt from Xenon, and Deronium, an artificial element unknown in our time, but which Superman brought back from the 30th century, where he had been visiting the Legion of Super-Heroes. From the space ship which brought the Kryptonian villain Gra-Mo to Earth, Superman took a rare mineral, Tuhanite, found only on his home planet. He thought all the rest of this substance had perished when Krypton exploded; but later, after rescuing the bottle-city of Kandor from the space-villain Brainiac, he found this tiny Kryptonian metropolis had large supplies of it—though reduced to microscopic size. However, this is one part of the watch which will never have to be replaced, since, like other things from Krypton, it is indestructible under Earth's yellow sun.

One might imagine that this device would ensure Jimmy's safety at all times; but this is not true. Its signal cannot reach through space, nor can it operate across the time-barrier. Once, Superman improved the watch so its signal could carry through space, but the first time Jimmy used it, the new part, made of a very rare element, Zenalite, burned and could not be replaced. Another time, when Superman was at the Earth's core on a mission, the signal was stopped by a large deposit of lead; on another occasion, high mountains blocked it. Also, powerful electrical disturbances can jam the signal. Furthermore as the device becomes more well-known, criminals abducting Jimmy take to removing the watch to prevent him from summoning Superman. Thus, Jimmy cannot always count on Superman to respond to his signal, and so must use his wits to get himself out of difficulties.

Criminals plotting against the Man of Steel often try to steal the watch so they can use it to lure their super-foe into Kryptonite traps. Jimmy's ingenuity has thwarted more than one such villain. In one instance a pickpocket lifted the watch and, not knowing what kind it was, accidentally called Superman with it.

On several occasions, the signal-watch has been broken or damaged, and Superman, while repairing it, has sometimes remodeled and improved it, such as adding a geiger counter function (WF No. 175, May 1968: "The Superman-Batman Revenge Squads"). For this reason, the watch looks a bit different in many of the earlier stories.

"Oh, in case you're wondering—the watch tells time, too!" (80PG No. 13, Aug 1965)

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