Waterbury Clock Company was founded to produce affordable clocks using mass-produced stamped brass movements. Its products grew out of a long tradition of innovative clock making developed in Connecticut’s Naugatuck Valley, known during the 19th Century as the “Switzerland of America.”
Thousands of mass-produced clocks required a more sophisticated distribution network. Waterbury Clock Company set up a New York wholesale store. By the 1890s, WCC established depots in Chicago, San Francisco and across the Atlantic in London and Glasgow. From the late 1860s onward, a wealth of choices from Waterbury Clock annual catalogs gave a taste of the astonishing variety of clocks and cases from the company.
Female workers were considered perfect for the delicate task of the finishing work and reversed painting of the glass doors of clocks. By the mid-1880s, women had become 35 to 40 percent of the Waterbury Clock’s entire work force.
The Company introduced the Jumbo pocket watch, invented by Archibald Bannatyne and named for P.T. Barnum’s elephant, with a small clock movement inside.
Robert H. Ingersoll & Bro. collaborated with Waterbury Clock to create and distribute the Ingersoll Yankee dollar watch, which was much smaller than the Jumbo. Twenty years and 40 million pocket watches later the Yankee became “the watch that made the dollar famous.”
During World War I, the U.S. Army required Waterbury Clock to re-tool the Ingersoll Ladies’ Midget pocket watch into a convenient wristwatch for soldiers. Civilians took them up in large numbers in the 1920s.
The Mickey Mouse® Character Watch was introduced in 1933 under an exclusive Disney license. The production of this watch increased the workforce and saved the company from bankruptcy. At $1.50 during the Great Depression, two million Mickey Mouse watches were sold making it the company’s first million-dollar watch line.
At the height of World War II, the company found new ownership under the direction of Thomas Olsen and Joakim Lehmkuhl. They bought controlling interest in Waterbury Clock Company converted its manufacturing to support the war effort during WWII. Throughout the war, the company produced more high quality mechanically timed artillery and anti-aircraft fuses than any other Allied source. As a result, in 1944 the company was renamed United States Time Corporation.
The Timex brand name was first used on a trial shipment of nurses’ watches. The X was added to the word time to evoke technological advancement.
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 reliable mechanical watch movement. The Timex brand was introduced to the masses.
The Company launched its first network television campaigns, using on-air endurance tests accompanied by the slogan, “It takes a licking and keeps on ticking.” Sales took off when John Cameron Swayze, the most authoritative news reporter of his time, began extolling the Timex watch in the live “torture test” commercials.
The first women’s Timex fashion watch was introduced, the Cavatina – a fashion watch to go with every outfit, on any occasion. The new Cavatina line provided women the opportunity to make their watch an impulse purchase in order to match each occasion. Within three years, it claimed more than a third of the U.S. women’s watch market.
By the mid-60s, the Timex brand spread globally and held the number one market share position, with businesses in Canada, Mexico, France, Great Britain, Germany, and Portugal as well as distributors in 20 other countries.
Due to the worldwide success of the Timex brand, the Company was renamed Timex Corporation.
The Timex brand obtained record-breaking sales having sold more than 500 million mechanical movements. Half of the watches purchased in the United States were a Timex.
Timex introduced the first Liquid Crystal Display or LCD watch, which included a calendar, calculator, chronograph, alarm, and double time readings – remarkably accessible on the wrist.
The thinnest quartz analog calendar watch in the world was introduced with the number of movement parts reduced by 40%.
The Timex’s Ironman Triathlon watch was introduced, which became America’s best-selling watch and the world’s largest selling sports watch.
Timex electroluminescent backlighting was first introduced on both digital and analog watches. Three years later, the iconic Indiglo was born. In 1993, during the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City, a worker in one of the highest floors used an Indiglo watch to light the escape for himself and others.
The Company acquired the license to manufacture the fashionable, sexy Guess watch brand through the purchase of the Callanen Group.
The Company acquired the license to manufacture Nautica watches for men and women, reflecting an energetic lifestyle with distinctive styling, bold colors and unique design.
Microsoft’s Bill Gates demonstrated the revolutionary Timex Datalink watch with optical wireless data transmission – the first wireless watch connection to a PC.
Timex purchased Opex making it a wholly owned independent subsidiary. The Opex watch brand embodies the height of French femininity.
The Timexpo Museum opened in Waterbury, Connecticut, preserving the history of timekeeping and educating current and future generations – a demonstration of the company’s deep commitment to the community.
The Company acquired the license to manufacture watches under the Marc Ecko brand, characterized by unlimited innovation and pioneering fashion to produce skillfully crafted timepieces.
Subsequent to a decade-long dynamic relationship with distinguished watch and jewelry designer Giorgio Galli, Timex established a modern design facility in Milan, Italy. Functioning as an internal creative agency, the Giorgio Galli Design Lab provides individual brands with a unique expertise in integrated creative solutions to achieve their strategic and competitive business objectives.
Sequel AG was founded. A Timex Group company, Sequel AG is headquartered in Switzerland with satellite operations in London, Paris, Hong Kong and Norwalk, Connecticut. Sequel AG is a member of the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry FH. Sequel AG has the exclusive distribution rights for Guess and Gc Watches worldwide.
Reflecting its growing number of businesses and brands, the company was renamed Timex Group. Later that year, the Timex Group Luxury Division introduced the Italian luxury collection Salvatore Ferragamo Timepieces.
At its Middlebury, Connecticut U.S. headquarters, Timex Group dedicated one of the largest solar power installations in the entire Northeastern United States.
Throughout the decade, annual surveys consistently ranked Timex brand as number one out of 50 fashion brands in jewelry and accessories, and the third most popular of all women’s accessory brands.
The company finished the decade by entering a partnership with the NFL’s New York Football Giants.
Fashion designer Tarun Tahiliani entered a partnership with Timex Group India to launch two lines of Timex watches inspired by traditional Indian jeweled Jadau work.