Jimmy Olsen wears a specially designed wrist watch that is capable of emitting a high frequency ultra-sonic signal that only Superman can hear. Jimmy relies upon the watch to contact Superman should his life be threatened or if he is present during an emergency that requires Superman's assistance. Jimmy has been known to abuse his use of the wrist watch and has occasionally contacted Superman for rather mundane matters. Superman has criticized him in the past for such casual use of the device as it often draws him away from a more pressing emergency.
When Jimmy Olsen first came to Metropolis to live in the same city as his idol Superman he would first get a job working for Professor Crane. One of Crane's experiments was a time machine that would allow someone to travel back in time. One of the devices flaws was that it would due to the constant expansion and rotation of the universe, the user would likely end up on another planet when arriving at their intended destination. Traveling back in time some 20 years, Jimmy would end up on Krypton prior to the planets destruction. Jimmy would help keep an eye on baby Kal-El for Jor-El and Lara while Jor-El put the finishing touches on the rocket that would see Kal-El sent safely to Earth before Krypton would explode.
Returning to his own time, Jimmy would lose all memory of the incident and get laid off due to the devices failure. When looking for other employment, Jimmy would be greeted by Superman who would remember how Jimmy Olsen helped him all those years ago. In reward, Superman would become Jimmy's pal and would gift him with the signal watch and land him his job with the Daily Planet.
Since then, Jimmy has used it to summon Superman whenever there is trouble, ranging from the mundane tasks to universal threats. Over the years the watch has been subject to a series of malfunctions and damages that would cause it to act irregularly, or cause strange transformations, changes in behavior, and other bizarre effects.
Following Crisis on Infinite Earths this watch has since been erased from history.
Many exotic materials were used in the construction of Jimmy's watch, which make its casing of silver, platinum and gold seem mundane:
- Tulanium from planet Zumoor; home of Mighty Boy;
- Morabalt from the mysterious Xenon;
- Deronium, an artificial element created in the 30th century
- Tuhanite, a rare mineral only found on Krypton. Superman took a small quantity from Gra-Mo's prison capsule. Years later, Superman found large quantities of Tuhanite in the bottle city of Kandor. Being Kryptonian in origin, Tuhanite is undestructible under Earth's yellow sun.
- Zenalite is a rare mineral that allowed the watch's signal to carry through the vacuum of space, but only worked once before burning out.
With the one-time exception of Zenalite, Jimmy's watch signal could not carry through space, nor across the time-barrier. It can be blocked by large enough deposits of lead, or by high mountains; and powerful electro-magnetic fields jammed the operation of the watch.
Jimmy first developed the watch exactly one year after Clark Kent began working at the Daily Planet. A friend of Jimmy's named Chrissie Walker had attempted to take her own life by overdosing on pills. Regretting the decision, she came to Jimmy's house and passed out in his bedroom. Jimmy and his mother Sarah were unable to contact emergency personnel and neither of them had a vehicle to take Chrissie to the hospital. As the girl lay dying on Jimmy's bed, the quick-thinking copy boy cannibalized several old radios and created a device that emitted a hypersonic signal. It was his hope that Superman's super-hearing would perceive the signal and that he would investigate its source. The plan worked and Superman arrived at the Olsen household and rushed Chrissie to the hospital. Superman complimented Jimmy on his ingenuity and suggested that he should miniaturize his device so he would always be able to contact should another emergency arise. Jimmy took his advice and used the radio parts to create a special wristwatch that he wore at all times.
- The signal watch was first shown in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #1 (1954). After Crisis on Infinite Earths, the watch was reintroduced in World of Metropolis #4 (1988).
- Alternate Earth Lex Luthor was given a watch identical to Jimmy Olsen's in Superman #149, which emitted a slightly different frequency to allow Superman to discern who was in trouble.
- Appearances of Jimmy Olsen's Signal Watch
- Item Gallery: Jimmy Olsen's Signal Watch
- Images featuring Jimmy Olsen's Signal Watch
Links and References