Timex Group USA

Timex Group USA, Inc.
Formerly called
  • Waterbury Clock Company
  • Timex Corporation
Industry Manufacturer
Founded 1854
Headquarters Middlebury, Connecticut, USA with various operations in Europe, the Americas, and Asia
Products Watches (Most commonly the Expedition, Intelligent Quartz, and the Ironman)
Owner Timex Group B.V.
Number of employees
Parent Timex Group B.V.
Website www.timex.com

Timex Group USA, Inc. (formerly known as Timex Corporation) is an American manufacturer company founded in 1854. The company is now a wholly owned subsidiary of the Dutch conglomerate Timex Group B.V..

In 1854, the company was founded as the Waterbury Clock Company in nearby Waterbury, Connecticut. In 1944, the company was thought to have become insolvent, but it was reformed into Timex Corporation, being the only current successor. In 2008, the company was acquired by Timex Group B.V, and was renamed into Timex Group USA.

The company is known for being one of the first to create and develop digital watches, notably the Ironman line of digital watches, named after the Ironman World Championship triathlon.


Waterbury Clock Company (1854–1944)

In 1854, Waterbury, Connecticut-based brass manufacturer Benedict & Burnham created Waterbury Clock Company to manufacture clocks using brass wheels and gears. Waterbury Clock Company was legally incorporated on March 27, 1857, as an independent business with $60,000 in capital.[1][2] The American clock industry, with scores of companies located in Connecticut's Naugatuck Valley, was producing millions of clocks, earning the region the nickname, "Switzerland of America".[3] The Waterbury Clock Company was one of the largest producers for both domestic sales and export, primarily to Europe.[1] Today its successor, Timex Group USA, Inc. is the only remaining watch company in the region.

Ingersoll Watch Company

Originally, the company produced clocks as less expensive alternatives to the high-end European counterparts of the time.[4] In 1887 the company began experimenting with its product line, leading to the creation of the large Jumbo pocket watch, invented by Archibald Bannatyne and named after the famous P. T. Barnum elephant.[5] The Jumbo was put on the market in New York City on a trial basis, catching the attention of Robert H. Ingersoll, a salesman and eventual marketing pioneer.[2] During the turn of the century, Waterbury Clock Company produced millions of pocket watches for the newly created partnership of Robert and his brother Charles, Robert H. Ingersoll & Bro., under their own brand name.[5] In 1896, Ingersoll introduced the Ingersoll Yankee, a dollar pocket watch supplied by Waterbury Clock Company.[2] These watches gained such great popularity that they became known as "the watch that made the dollar famous."[6]

Waterbury Watch Company

In 1877, a new prototype was introduced to Benedict and Burnham for an inexpensive pocket watch made of 58 parts, mostly made of punched sheet brass. They immediately set aside an unused portion of their machine shop and began producing the Long Wind at a rate of 200 per day by 1878. The department quickly outgrew its space in the plant, so with a capital of $400,000 Waterbury Clock's sister company Waterbury Watch Company was incorporated by Benedict & Burnham in 1880 to manufacture and sell inexpensive watches and other timepieces.[7][8] Waterbury Watch started out very successfully in its early days, employing hundreds of women for their "slender fingers" and "delicate manipulation," having become the largest volume producer of watches in the world by 1888.[9]

Due to poor sales techniques, where jobbers and salesmen gave away much of the Waterbury Watch products as loss leaders with little regard to the company's future, thereby cheapening the products' perceived value, Waterbury Watch quickly fell into bankruptcy.[8] In a last attempt to salvage the company, Waterbury Watch began to produce higher-end watch models which only created more demand on a workforce unable to keep up with the complexity of the new watches using several hundred parts. The company was finally reorganized as the New England Watch Company in 1898 as its London sales office was placed into liquidation.[7] The company continued to focus on high-priced watch models and eventually fell into receivership, discontinuing business in July 1912. Robert H. Ingersoll & Bro. bought the Waterbury plant and began manufacturing Ingersoll Watches there in 1914.[7]

Advent of the wristwatch

With the American entry into World War I there were new demands for timepiece design. Artillery gunners needed an easy way to calculate and read time while still being able to work the guns. The Waterbury Clock Company met this need by modifying the small Ingersoll ladies' Midget pocket watch to become military-issue wristwatches — lugs were added for a canvas strap, the crown was repositioned to 3 o'clock, hands and numbers were made luminescent for nighttime readability, thus making one of the first wrist watches.[10][11]

In 1922, Waterbury Clock Company purchased the Robert H. Ingersoll & Bro. company for $1,500,000, which had gone bankrupt the previous year due to the post-war recession, thereby inheriting all of Ingersoll's and Waterbury Watch's assets and facilities.[5][12] Unable to deliver on Ingersoll's guarantee of quality in Europe due to the Great Depression, Waterbury Clock sold the London-based Ingersoll, Ltd. to its Board of Directors in 1930, making it a wholly British-owned enterprise. The "powerful Ingersoll brand name" was continued in the United States by Waterbury Clock into the 1950s.[13] No longer part of Waterbury Clock Company, Ingersoll Ltd. continued to produce the Ingersoll watch brand independently for the European and other international markets.

Following the Great Depression and a period of hardship for the company, Waterbury Clock Company regained its identity in the consumer market. In 1930, a license agreement was reached with Walt Disney, resulting in the production of the famous Mickey Mouse watches and clocks under the Ingersoll brand name. The new Mickey Mouse timepieces were introduced to the public at the Chicago World's Fair in June 1933 and quickly became the company's first million-dollar line, saving it from financial disaster.[13][14]

In 1940, Thomas Olsen (owner and operator of Fred. Olsen Shipping Co.) and Joakim Lehmkuhl fled Norway with their families because of the Nazi invasion.[15] Eventually they came to the United States seeking investments to assist in the war effort. In 1941, Olsen and Lehmkuhl purchased controlling interest in Waterbury Clock Company, with Thomas Olsen becoming Chairman.[5][10][16] Though the company had fallen on hard times during the Great Depression it still had the manufacturing capability to make large numbers of timing devices. Mr. Lehmkuhl, who had studied business and engineering at Harvard and MIT, was appointed President by Olsen and, under his direction, the company became the largest producer of fuse timers for precision defense products in the United States.[16] A new concrete plant was built in nearby Middlebury, Connecticut in 88 days in 1942 for the high-volume production of precision timers.[5] In August 1943, the Army-Navy "E" Award for excellence was awarded by the United States Under-Secretary of War to Waterbury Clock Company for the "Anglo-American fuse". As a result of this success shareholders in the following December voted to rename the company to United States Time Corporation.[17]

United States Time Corporation (1944–1969)

Following the end of the Korean War in the 1950s, sales declined because of diminishing defense orders. United States Time Corporation President Lehmkuhl was convinced that an inexpensive watch that was both accurate and durable would be a marketing success. He felt that low cost could be accomplished through the combination of automation, precision tooling techniques used in making fuse timers, and a simpler design than that of higher-priced Swiss watches. Durability was accomplished through a new hard alloy, Armalloy, developed through wartime research. Armalloy was used to produce long wearing bearings, replacing the expensive jewels traditionally used in a watch's movement.[16] These innovations led to the eventual public debut of the Timex brand in 1950, though the name was first used on a small trial shipment of nurses' watches in 1945.[18] The X suffix was used to "convey U.S. Time's technological expertise and innovation".[10]

On 1 February 1959, Timex (at the time, still US Time Corporation) the firm Lacher & Co. AG, Pforzheim, Germany (the Laco brand) to acquire the electric watch technology developed by Laco. Timex also purchased the DUROWE (Deutsche Uhrenrohwerke)brand. On 1 September 1965, Timex sold Durowe to the Swiss movement manufacturer ETA SA.

Slogan: It takes a licking and keeps on ticking

The new watch movement design faced resistance from traditional jewelers. Lehmkuhl made two more decisions that proved pivotal to the company's long-term success. The company would go on to, or continue to pursue innovative marketing programs and develop new channels of distribution. A marketing decision was made to use the most credible newsman in the United States at that time, John Cameron Swayze, as a spokesperson for live torture tests on television with the tag line created by Russ Alben,[19] "Timex – Takes a Licking and keeps on Ticking", a well-recognized campaign in advertising history.[16][20] These commercials were developed by Hirshon Garfield as elaborations on tests originated by United States Time Corporation salesmen. The commercials included high-divers, water skiers, a dolphin, dishwashers, jackhammers, paint mixers and the propeller of an outboard motor, all torturing a Timex watch.[21]

Despite resistance from jewelers because of the low 50% markup, consumer demand increased and new distribution channels were opened to include department stores, cigar stands, drug stores and a host of other mass market outlets.[21] By 1962, the Timex brand held the number one market share position in the United States where one out of every three watches sold was a Timex.[16][21] Foreign markets were added with company sales offices in Canada, Mexico, France, Great Britain, Germany and Portugal as well as with distributors in about twenty other countries. Plants were built in the United States, Europe, and Asia.[22]

Edwin H. Land, co-founder of Polaroid Corporation, contacted United States Time Corporation in 1948 in search of a manufacturer for his cameras. A strong relationship was forged between the companies in 1950 resulting in United States Time becoming the exclusive manufacturer of all Polaroid cameras worldwide through the 1970s, totaling more than 44 million cameras.[22]

In recognition of the Timex brand's worldwide success, United States Time Corporation was renamed Timex Corporation on July 1, 1969.[23]

Timex Corporation (1969–2008)

In the 1970s and early 1980s, the American watch and clock industry was devastated by the arrival of cheap mechanical watches from the Far East, as well as the development of digital quartz watches pioneered by Japanese companies. Lehmkuhl retired in 1973 with no clear successor. Polaroid ended its contract with Timex in 1975 resulting in a layoff of 2,000 employees.[10] New technology, in the form of electronic digital watches and quartz analog watches, was developing very rapidly, making Timex's mechanical watchmaking production facilities obsolete. Timex closed and consolidated worldwide operations, cutting the 30,000 employee workforce to 6,000.[10] New competition, including Japanese companies, low-cost Hong Kong producers and large American companies such as Gillette, Texas Instruments and National Semi-Conductor were aggressively entering the business.[16] The Disney license had expired and John Cameron Swayze retired from his role as spokesperson. The subcontracting business was rebuilt with new customers such as IBM, Hugin-Sweda and General Electric. In a joint venture with Sinclair Research Ltd., the company entered the home computer business, selling such computers as the Timex Sinclair 1000 and succeeding machines, modeled on the ZX81 and ZX Spectrum. In 1984 after declining sales amid a bruising price war with Commodore Business Machines, the company decided not to compete in that market any longer.[24]

In the mid-1980s, Timex abandoned its development of various consumer products and refocused efforts specifically on timepieces.[25] Product quality and fashionable design became essential to success in the mass market. Although Timex had a solid reputation for durable products, increased efforts were put behind quality improvement. Longer battery life, more durable gold plating, greater accuracy and more water resistant styles were some of the many improvements that were implemented. New quartz analog movements were created using fewer components, reducing overall production time and costs.[10] Top athletes assisted in the design of sports watches for specific sports which led to the introduction of the Ironman Triathlon in 1986. Named for the Hawaiian triathlon the company had sponsored since 1984, the Ironman Triathlon became the most successful Timex watch in the post-mechanical watch era. Within its first year, Timex Ironman became the best-selling watch in the United States, and the world's largest selling sport watch for the next decade.[25]

Following on the success of the Ironman Triathlon line, Timex introduced the Indiglo night light during the Christmas shopping season in 1992. Indiglo made headlines as a result of the February 26, 1993 World Trade Center bombing, in which an office worker wearing a Timex with an Indiglo night light used its light to guide a group of evacuees down 40 dark flights of stairs, causing sales to immediately take off, leading to an increase in Timex's U.S. market share.[25]

Timex Corporation acquired Callanen International, the producer of Guess Watches, in 1991 as part of its "multi-brand strategy".[26] Timex and Disney reunited in 1993 to produce a new line of character watches called Disney Classics Collection.[27] In 1994, Timex acquired the Nautica Watches license and introduced Timex Data Link. The Data Link PDA-type watch could receive contact and scheduling information from a sequence in a computer monitor's light using software developed with Microsoft.[28] 1997 saw the introduction of the successful Timex Expedition brand, designed for rugged outdoor sports. Timex and Motorola introduced Beepwear in 1998, a watch with an integrated pager.[26]

The new millennium led to further growth of Timex Corporation and its parent, Timex Group B.V., by way of brand acquisition, brand introduction and licensing partnerships. In 2000, Timex Corporation purchased the French fashion watch brand Opex.[29] Under its Callanen subsidiary, Timex acquired the watch license for urban fashion designer Marc Eckō in 2002.[30]

The company entered the luxury market in 2005 when Timex's parent company acquired Swiss-based Vertime SA. Vertime is responsible for the design, manufacturing and distribution of Swiss-Made watches and jewelry for the Versace and Versus brands.[31]

Timex USA's international holding company, the Timex Group, launched the TX Watch Company in late 2006.[32] with four independent motors, various microprocessors, and six dial hands, providing specialized functions atypical to non-digital analog watches. By 2011, Timex Group announced it was terminating the brand and moving its six-hand, four-motor technology to a Timex sub-brand, Intelligent Quartz.[33]

In 2007, Timex Group B.V. established Sequel AG as a separate company devoted to the design, manufacturing and distribution of the Guess and the Swiss-Made Gc watch brands. The Sequel AG business is headquartered in Zug, Switzerland.[13][34] Timex Group B.V. purchased the Italian design studio Giorgio Galli Design Lab in 2007.[13]

Timex Group USA, Inc. (2008–present)

Timex logo

The company was restructured in early 2008, establishing the Timex Business Unit as a separate business function for the Timex brand with its own president. Until then, past Timex Group CEOs had managed the Timex Group and brand, which had contributed to the brand’s less-than-stellar earnings in the previous five years. While Timex Group’s Sequel division, which houses the Guess collections, had grown tremendously to rival Timex as the firm’s top earner, the signature brand had been flat, as of August 2008.[35] Since this change, Timex has introduced GPS enabled watches, heart rate monitor exercise watches and similar high tech devices.

In 2008, Timex Group USA signed a four-year agreement making Timex the first official timekeeper of the ING New York City Marathon.[36] Meanwhile, parent company Timex Group B.V. launched two new Swiss-Made luxury watch brands – Salvatore Ferragamo Timepieces and Valentino Timeless – under the Timex Group Luxury Watches business.[37][38]

As the year closed, construction commenced on the second-largest ground mounted solar array in the northeastern United States at Timex Group USA's Middlebury, CT headquarters. The 800-panel solar array was inaugurated on February 5, 2009 during a press event held at the headquarters.[39] A few months later Timex Group USA purchased ownership of the Marc Eckō watch trademark it had licensed since 2002.[30] At the same time, the Callanen International business unit merged (2009) with the Timex Business Unit bringing the Timex, Opex, TX, Nautica and Marc Eckō brands all under one house.[40]

In an agreement announced on June 16, 2009, Timex Group USA became an official sponsor of the NFL's New York Giants new headquarters and practice facility called the Timex Performance Center. Further details of the sponsorship include Timex being an official equipment provider to the Giants and working closely with the team to develop new products.[41]

Timex Group B.V.

Timex Group B.V., a Dutch holding company, is the corporate parent of several watchmaking companies around the globe including Timex Group USA, Inc.[10] Businesses and exclusive worldwide licenses include the Timex Business Unit (Timex, Timex Ironman, Opex, Nautica, Marc Eckō), Timex Group Luxury Watches (Valentino, Salvatore Ferragamo), Sequel (Guess, Gc), Vertime (Versace, Versus), Vincent Bérard and Giorgio Galli Design Lab.[13][35]

Today, Timex Group B.V.'s 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. The group has operations in a number of countries in Europe, the Americas, and Asia. Many Timex Far East operation wristwatches are manufactured by TMX Philippines Inc. in Lapu-Lapu, Philippines.[42][43] Timex Group B.V.'s export from the factory in Philippines is made through own company Tmx Limited N.V. based in Curaçao.


See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Timex.


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Further reading

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