Timex Group is the best-known American Watch company. Timex’s U.S. headquarters are located in Middlebury, Connecticut, and it has substantial operations in China, the Philippines and India and full scale sales companies in Canada, the UK, France and Mexico.
Timex Corporation has manufactured the largest-selling watch brand in the United States since the 1960s. Renowned for its sturdy but inexpensive timepieces, Timex distributes its watches
through 100,000 outlets in the United States, as well as throughout the world.
The company began in 1854 as Waterbury Clock in Connecticut’s NaugatuckValley, 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.
Two Norwegian immigrants to the United States, shipbuilder Thomas Olsen and engineer Joakim Lehmkuhl–both of whom fled Norway after the German invasion of their country in 1940–founded Timex Inc. in 1941. They purchased the nearly bankrupt Waterbury Clock Company, seeking to aid the allied war effort by producing bomb and artillery fuses that utilized clockwork mechanisms.
During World War II Waterbury renamed itself U.S. Time Company. In 1950 the company introduced a wristwatch called the Timex. Over the next three decades, Timex was sold through a series of advertisements which emphasised its durability by putting the watch through “torture tests,” such as falling over the Grand Coulee Dam or being strapped to timex6the propeller of an outboard motor, with the slogan “It takes a licking and keeps on ticking.” With the help of former Olympic broadcaster, spokesman John Cameron Swayze, sales took off. The company later became Timex Corporation, then Timex Group and, to date, has sold over one billion watches.
In the 1970s, 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. In the 1980s, 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. After a reasonably good sales performance to begin with, Timex decided it couldn’t compete with the low-end market’s eventual saturation and so the company withdrew.
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 timex7brand is sold worldwide due to its ability 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 Guss, Nautica, Ecko, Opex and, in a successful foray into the luxury watch market, Versace..
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.
As of 2006, it had 5,500 employees on four continents. It is a privately owned company and does not have a published annual report.
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