The Ticka was the most popular watch form camera ever made and many thousands were sold around the world; in Britain, Europe and British Empire as the Ticka and in the United States as the Expo Watch camera from 1905. The original patent was lodged in 1903 and granted in 1904 (British patent number 21295 of 14 October 1904). The Ticka camera was marketed by Houghtons Ltd from 1906 and was still being advertised as the Expo in the United States 1939.
The Ticka was designed by an innovative Swedish engineer, Magnus Niell who undertook work for Houghtons and it's successor companies. Neill was also responsible for the Ensignette and Midget cameras for the same firm. The original 1904 patent claimed the lens and lens fittings, roller slide and shutter as the novel parts of the camera and showed the basic design of the camera. Three further patents in 1908 developed the camera further with a special developing device for Ticka film spools, a focal-plane shutter and improved film spool. One of the most innovative features of the camera was the drop-in film cartridge which gave twenty-five exposures and preceded Kodak's 1963 Instamatic 126 cartridge by nearly fifty years.
Houghtons, who were probably Britain's largest photographic manufacturer, offered the Ticka for sale from 1906. They claimed 'the Ticka is British made throughout. It is made in our own factories by our own men, and is not imported'. The BJPA gave the camera an enthusiastic welcome claiming that the 1 x ½ inch negatives when enlarged to 3 x 2 inches would yield 'quite excellent little prints' and 'the apparatus, though so compact, is nevertheless better than a toy, for the depth of focus given by a lens of such short focal length is very great'.
Houghtons introduced two new models in 1908. The Watch Face Ticka featured an enamel watch face with the angle of the hands indicating the field of view and the Focal-Plane Ticka which had a five-speed focal-plane shutter and a focusing Cooke f/6.5 lens.
Throughout the camera's production it was accompanied by a full range of accessories including three styles of viewfinder, time shutter, printing box, developing and printing accessories, tripod, negative storage box and Ticka album. The introduction of the Ensignette camera in 1909 probably affected sales of the Ticka and, although it was still listed in Houghtons 1918 catalogue, production probably stopped around 1914-1915. The film continued to be listed well into the 1920s.
Two further variants of the Ticka camera deserve mention. A Silver Ticka camera was made and those few example seen to date have been hallmarked 1906. A special version was made for Queen Alexandra, again hallmarked 1906, and engraved with her monogram. A Japanese copy of the Ticka called the Moment was made around 1910.