Thursday, May 24

Who is the Nation’s Leading Watch Manufacturer?

The nation’s current leading watch manufacturer began as Waterbury Clock Company in 1854.  Based in Waterbury, CT, this company produced inexpensive clocks made of brass wheels and gears as an affordable alternative to the exorbitant European imports of the time.  They became so popular both as a domestic product and as an export that the area became known as the “Switzerland of America.”    In 1877 the company produced a pocket watch made of brass that retailed for a dollar called the Ingersoll Yankee, named after the pioneer of the marketing campaign that led to its profound success.  Waterbury Clock Company produced millions of them, and the Ingersoll Yankee earned the nickname, “the watch that made the dollar famous.” 
            The invention of the wristwatch is commonly attributed to World War I, when soldiers discovered a need to tell time while keeping both hands free for combat.  Prior to that time, wristwatches, then called “wristlets,” were exclusively feminine accessories.  To meet the wartime demand, Waterbury Clock Company remodeled a ladies’ pocket watch called the Midget to include lugs for a canvas strap, a crown at the 3 o’clock position, and luminescent hands and markers for visibility in low light conditions.  This model became the first military-issued wristwatch.  The company maintained its status for military reliability through World War II, being awarded the Army-Navy ‘E’ Award for excellence, providing more fuse timers for precision defense than any other company.  As a result of this honor, shareholders decided to change the company name to “United States Time Corporation.”  In 1945, the name was shortened to Timex, which first debuted on a small shipment of nurses watches.
            Timex has enjoyed a number of milestones in timekeeping history, including the first Mickey Mouse clocks and watches, which became the company’s first million dollar line and saved it from bankruptcy following the Great Depression.  Timex also developed an inexpensive alloy called Armalloy that effectively replaced the jewels previously required for watch movements.  Though many of the jewelers of the time resisted this innovation, primarily due to the low markup on the watches, customer demand paved the way for Timex watches to be sold not only in traditional jewelry stores, but drugstores, department stores, and bodegas as well.  By 1962, Timex represented every third watch sold in the U.S.  Around the same time, Timex forged a relationship with the Polaroid Corporation and became the first manufacturers of the Polaroid camera and went on to produce more than 44 million of them in the seventies.  More recently, the incorporation of the Indiglo night light into watch dials, which endures as a staple feature of Timex watches, made headlines in 1993, when an office worker used the Indiglo light to guide a group of 40 colleagues down the stairs to safety during the World Trade Center bombing.
            Today, Timex endures as a company known for durable, precise, classic timepieces.  The brand constantly develops new products, such as the GPS and heart rate monitor models, and improves on the traditional models, such as increasing battery life ad water resistance, to secure its place as the nation’s most beloved watch brand.  Be sure to check out our newest batch of Timex watches, the Weekenders, characterized by colorful canvas straps, easy-to-read dials, Indiglo night lights, low prices, and plenty of vintage charm.  

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