from the TIMEX.com website (May 2007)
Copyright © 1997-2007 Timex Corporation. All rights reserved
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 new millenium with high brand confidence and a strong global workforce. Annual surveys consistently rank Timex as number one out 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.
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