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Timex group is one of the largest watchmakers in the world. Started in 1854 together Waterbury Clock Company, Timex group is a privately held firm with that U.S. Headquarters in Middlebury, Connecticut.

You are watching: Timex takes a licking and keeps on ticking

The modern background of Timex starts with a partnership in between the Waterbury Clock company and Robert and Charles Ingersoll of Robt. W. Ingersoll Bros. In brand-new York. Starting in the 1880s, Robert was particularly invested in assets that offered for a dollar (the indistinguishable of about $23 to $25 in 2015). Ingersoll Bros. Produced a wide range of such products, from toys to typewriters.

Robert taken into consideration the possibility of a $1 bag watch. In ~ the time, the least expensive bag watches marketed for over $2 and could run into the $40 range. He discovered that Waterbury Clock company and new Haven Clock firm were making bag watches the were how amazing inexpensive, back still above Ingersoll’s desired price point. In 1892, he contracted Waterbury Clock agency to make watches.

By 1894 Waterbury Clock was turning out half a million Ingersoll the town hall a year. Through 1896 the firm had occurred the Ingersoll “Yankee” pocket watch, which sold for a dollar. Within 5 years, Ingersoll had actually sold 6 million Yankees, i beg your pardon were seen as an excellent value.

Wristwatches were introduced in world War I, and after the war, the need for lock soared. Ingersoll and also Waterbury Clock responded handily, however a collection of unfortunate service and an individual events bankrupted Ingersoll. In 1922 Waterbury Clock purchase Ingersoll’s U.S. Operations and began directly marketing the Ingersoll brand, i m sorry they used through the late 1940s.

One specific technological invention came in ~ a steep price. In the at an early stage 1920s, several clock manufacturers, consisting of Waterbury Clock, supplied a newly discovered element, radium, to illuminate the numbers on clock and watch faces. The females employed come hand-paint them frequently licked your brushes’ bristles to type a fine point. In ~ a year, the very first of the workers started to experience ailments pertained to the practice, an especially oral and facial cancers, together Claudia Clark chronicles in Radium Girls: Women and Industrial health and wellness Reform (The university of phibìc Carolina Press, 1997). Waterbury Clock company and its successor companies us Time Corporation and Timex have actually all been reticent about, also mute on, the subject. The Waterbury Observer ran a story around the tragedy and the environmental cleanup forced of the factory sites in 2002, claiming that it to be the first about the subject in the history of Waterbury newspapers.

Kathleen McDermott, in the company-commissioned Timex: A firm and the Community, 1854-1998, notes that by 1928 the Waterbury Clock agency was chin on the verge the bankruptcy. The agency acquired timepiece-licensing rights that have actually been credited with saving the company: a one-year-old cartoon character called Mickey Mouse. The resulting Mickey mouse watches debuted at the 1933 Chicago world Fair, and also they ended up being so well-known that in the depth of the good Depression, Waterbury Clock rehired workers and also expanded the plant.

World battle II brought added prosperity come Waterbury Clock in the kind of armed forces contracts for timepieces, bomb fuses, and gyroscopes. It was a brand-new era in ownership, too. Thomas Olsen and also Joakim Lehmkuhl escaped their home country of Norway in April 1940, just as Germany invaded. Less than a year later, in February 1941, Olsen bought a bulk stake in Waterbury Clock, bringing Lehmkuhl v him to serve on the board. In 1942, they constructed a 120,000-square-foot production plant in Middlebury to offer the company’s ever-increasing number of contracts with the militaries of the unified States and the unified Kingdom. They readjusted the company’s name to United says Time coporation, group in 1944.

When the war ended, U.S. Time discovered itself in gaue won straits as soon as again, and also returned come marketing cheap timepieces because that civilian use. In 1944 U.S. Time had introduced a limited-edition watch, the Timex, which it arisen for nurses. This very first Timex to be a pendant on a 10-inch chain that registered nurses affixed to your uniforms. U.S. Time brand the Timex surname in 1946 but didn’t start marketing Timex wristwatches commercially till 1950. Sales raised steadily, and by 1954 Timex was a widely known and popular brand.

U.S. Time discovered the perfect pitchman in john Cameron Swayze, a previous NBC news anchor who, when hired by U.S. Time in 1956, had just lost his anchoring job to the team of Huntley and Brinkley. In his live tv commercials, Swayze managed “torture tests” of Timex watches. In each demonstration, a Timex endured the recent attempt to damage it, varying from being placed through dishwashers to being jackhammered. Together watches pass their miscellaneous tests, Swayze would deliver the above slogan: “It bring away a licking and also keeps ~ above ticking.”

Timex relocated its headquarters and research and development facilities come Middlebury by the at an early stage 1960s. Come the public, the U.S. Time coporation, group was Timex, therefore the company readjusted its surname to Timex in 1969, at the exact same time it was relocating its manufacturing infrastructure out of Connecticut. The Waterbury structure that had actually originally housed that company headquarters became the house of the Timexpo Museum in 2001.

In the 21st century, Timex, now owned by dutch holding agency Timex B.V., went into the luxury market, creating watches because that Versace and also other high-fashion labels; today, the Timex-driven Versace models can price as lot as $1,750.

Unfortunately, the Timexpo Museum go not discover a broad enough audience come sustain itself and closed ~ above September 30, 2015. The Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury has an agreement with Timex to organize a little permanent exhibition the objects on permanent loan indigenous the company. Waterbury Clock, U.S. Time, and Timex watches may likewise be viewed at the American Clock and also Watch Museum in Bristol.

See more: What Does It Mean When Your Big Toe Itches, What It Means When Your Feet Itch

Emily E. Gifford is an independent scholar and also a member the the Connecticut Explored editorial team.


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VISITAmerican Clock & watch Museum, 100 Maple Street, Bristol. 860-583-6070, clockandwatchmuseum.orgMattatuck Museum, 144 West key Street, Waterbury. 203-753-0381,