Timex's long history is studded with more innovative, best-selling timepieces than
any other watch company in the world.
Here follows an outline of our history. For more information, you may purchase the
handsomely illustrated coffee table book "Timex: A Company and its Community
1854-1998", available through our on-line catalog in the Collector's Corner
In late 2000, Timexpo Museum opened in Waterbury
Connecticut, offering a fun experience for the whole family.
Timex: 150 Years of Innovation and Leadership
1850s-1870s: Waterbury Clock made timekeeping affordable for working
class Americans. Its inexpensive yet reliable shelf and mantel clocks, with cases
designed to imitate expensive imported models, contained simple, mass-produced stamped
brass movements. Waterbury Clock's products grew out of a long tradition of innovative
clockmaking that developed in Connecticut's Naugatuck Valley, known during the nineteenth
century as the "Switzerland of America."
1880s: Waterbury Watch, a sister company, manufactured the first
inexpensive mechanical pocket watch in 1880 and quickly sold more than any other
firm in the world. The "Waterbury," known for its extraordinarily long,
nine-foot mainspring, was assembled by a predominantly female workforce whose dexterous
fingers were prized for the close and exacting work. Waterbury pocket watches sold
throughout North America and Europe, and could be found in Africa, where they were
presented as gifts to native chieftains, and as far away as Japan.
1900s: By the turn of the twentieth century, the watch industry's
first and most successful mass marketer, Robert H. Ingersoll, worked with Waterbury
Clock to distribute the company's "Yankee" pocket watch, the first to
cost just one dollar. Twenty years later, with nearly forty million sold, the "Yankee"
became the world's largest seller and "the watch that made the dollar famous."
Everyone carried the Yankee: from Mark Twain to miners, from farmers to factory
workers, from office clerks to sales clerks.
1917: During World War I, the U.S. Army required Waterbury Clock
to re-tool the Yankee pocket watch into a convenient new "wristwatch"
for soldiers; after the war, returning veterans continued to wear the handy timepiece,
and civilians took them up in huge numbers during the 1920s.
1930s: The popularity of a brand new cartoon character led Waterbury
Clock to produce the very first Mickey Mouse clocks and watches in 1933, under an
exclusive license from Walt Disney. Despite the deep shadow cast by the Great Depression,
within just a few years, parents bought two million Mickey Mouse watches for their
children. Originally priced at $1.50, these same watches are collector's items that
today command higher and higher prices.
1940s: During World War II, the newly renamed U.S. Time Company
completely converted its factories to wartime manufacturing. Over the course of
the war, it turned an eighty-four year tradition of reliable mechanical timekeeping
to the record-breaking production of more high-quality mechanically-timed artillery
and anti-aircraft fuses than any other Allied source.
1950s: U.S. Time's wartime expertise in research and development
and advanced mass production techniques led to the creation of the world's first
inexpensive yet utterly reliable mechanical watch movement. The new wristwatch,
called the Timex, debuted in 1950. Print advertisements featured the new watch strapped
to Mickey Mantle's bat, frozen in an ice cube tray, spun for seven days in a vacuum
cleaner, taped to a giant lobster's claw, or wrapped around a turtle in a tank.
Despite these and other extensive live torture tests, the Timex kept ticking. When
John Cameron Swayze, the most authoritative newsman of his time, began extolling
the Timex watch in live "torture test" commercials of the late 1950s,
sales took off. Taped to the propeller of an outboard motor, tumbling over the Grand
Coulee Dam, or held fist first by a diver leaping eighty-seven feet from the Acapulco
cliffs, the plucky watch that "takes a licking and keeps on ticking®"
quickly caught the American imagination. Viewers by the thousands wrote in with
their suggestions for future torture tests, like the Air Force sergeant who offered
to crash a plane while wearing a Timex. By the end of the 1950s, one out of every
three watches bought in the U.S. was a Timex.
1960s: The Timex brand name became a household word during the
1960s. Having completely conquered the low-priced market, the company upgraded and
diversified its product line. It introduced the "Cavatina," its first
women's brand in 1959 and with it, a revolutionary merchandising concept: the watch
as an impulse item. For the price of one expensive watch, women could buy several
Timex watches to match different occasions or ensembles. Technological advances
allowed the company to offer a wide range of products, including the first low-priced
electric watches for men and women, as well as several other, inexpensive jeweled
models. Still another improved watch movement, introduced in 1961, served as the
cornerstone for an extraordinary array of men's wristwatches.
1970s: By the mid-1970s, the renamed Timex Corporation had sold
more than 500 million of these mechanical movements. At this time, every other watch
bought in the U.S. was a Timex, and the brand retailed in two hundred and fifty
thousand different outlets. None of these manufacturing, sales, and distribution
records has ever been duplicated by another watch manufacturer.
1980s: Alone among all domestic watchmakers, only Timex survived
the brutal 1970s watch industry shakeout caused by new digital watch technology
and fierce price competition from the Far East. Having gradually phased out mechanical
watch production in favor of digital watches, in 1986 Timex introduced its "Ironman
Triathlon®," jointly devised by serious athletes and industrial designers.
Within a year, the "Ironman Triathlon®" became America's best-selling
watch and, diversifying into a full line for men and women, became the world's largest
selling sports watch, a distinction it has held throughout the 1990s.
1990s and Beyond: In the 1990s, a nearly 150 year-old Timex vigorously
pursues its long tradition of technological innovation and market leadership. The
company introduced the industry's first electroluminescent watch face in 1992, when
the blue-green Indiglo® night light appeared on some of its digital and analog watches.
Today, more than 75 percent of all Timex watches are equipped with the Indiglo night
light®. The All-Day Indiglo® display, using a hologram-like material, provides greater
contrast between digital numbers and the display background. In 1994, Timex introduced
the Data Link® watch, a sophisticated wrist instrument that carries scheduling,
phone numbers, and other personal information, having collaborated with Microsoft
to create the necessary software to communicate the data from computer to watch.
In 1998, Timex pioneered its i-Control™ turn n pull analog alarm watch and,
in a joint venture with Motorola, a new wrist pager called Beepwear®.
Timex embraces the year 2003 with high brand confidence and a strong global workforce.
Annual surveys consistently rank Timex among the leaders of fifty fashion brands
in jewelry and accessories and the third most popular of all women's accessory brands.
Seventy-five hundred employees are located on four continents: in Middlebury (next
door to Waterbury), Connecticut; Little Rock, Arkansas; Manaus, Brazil; Besancon,
France; Pforzheim, Germany; Cebu, the Philippines; People's Republic of China; Jerusalem,
Israel; and Delhi, India.