Monday, August 27, 2007

Watch Brands History - Article 5 (Timex)

Timex Group B.V. is an American watch company. Timex's U.S. headquarters are located in Connecticut, and it has substantial operations in China, the Philippines and India and full scale sales companies in Canada, the UK, France and Mexico.

The company began in 1854 as Waterbury Clock in Connecticut's Naugatuck Valley, known during the nineteenth century as the "Switzerland of America." Sister company Waterbury Watch manufactured the first inexpensive mechanical pocket watch in 1880. During World War I, Waterbury began making wristwatches, which had only just become popular, and in 1933 it made history by creating the first Mickey Mouse clock under license from Walt Disney, with Mickey's hands pointing the time.

During World War II, Waterbury renamed itself U.S. Time Company. In 1950 the company introduced a wristwatch called the Timex, which revolutionized the time-keeping industry. The wristwatches allowed people to easily tell the time, and were also simply designed, inexpensive, and durable. These improvements played into what was to become one of the most celebrated TV advertising campaigns of all time.

Timex wristwatches first were promoted in print. Such ads depicted the timepieces attached to the bat of baseball legend Mickey Mantle (1931–1995), affixed to a turtle and to a lobster's claw, frozen in an ice cube, and twirling inside a vacuum cleaner. Then in the mid-1950s, John Cameron Swayze (1906–1995), a veteran newscaster, began presiding over a series of television commercials in which the wristwatch was subjected to intricate torture tests. A Timex might be crushed by a jack-hammer, tossed about in a dishwasher, or strapped to a diver who plunged off a cliff. After this mistreatment, Swayze held the still-operating wristwatch up to the camera. He then declared that it "takes a licking and keeps on ticking"—a catch-phrase that entered the pop-culture vocabulary. The success of the ads resulted in Timex wristwatch sales surpassing the five million mark by 1958. By the end of the decade, one in every three wristwatches sold in the United States was a Timex.

Across the decades, thousands of viewers wrote the company, proposing scenarios 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. The ad campaign ended in 1977, with a "failure" that had been planned in advance. In the commercial, an elephant stomped on—and completely crushed—a Timex, at which point Swayze informed the television audience, "It worked in rehearsal."

Timex survived the 1970s and 1980s and came back strongly. The company remains profitable and competitive and the Timex brand continues its dominance. Its primary market remains the United States and Canada, although the Timex brand is sold worldwide due to its ability to capitalize on its strong brand image and reputation for quality. In addition, Timex Group sells many other brands addressing all segments of the watch market, such as Guess, Nautica, Opex and, in a successful foray into the luxury watch market, Versace. In addition to its regular watch lines Timex also manufactures the well received Timex Datalink series of PDA-type watches, and GPS enabled watches, heart rate monitor exercise watches and similar high tech devices.

Today, Timex Group products are manufactured in the Far East and in Switzerland, often based on technology that continues to be developed in the United States and in Germany. To date it has sold over one billion watches.

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