Benedict & Burnham
Times Group USA Inc.
Timex Group USA, Inc. (formerly known as Timex Corporation), a subsidiary of Timex Group B.V., is headquartered in Middlebury, Connecticut. The company is the current day successor to the Waterbury Clock Company, founded in 1854 in nearby Waterbury, Connecticut.
In 1854 Waterbury, CT-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. 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". The Waterbury Clock Company was one of the largest producers for both domestic sales and export, primarily to Europe. Today its successor, Timex Group USA, Inc. is the only remaining watch company in the region.
Following the end of the Korean War, 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. 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. The X suffix was used to "convey U.S. Time's technological expertise and innovation"
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. 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. 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. 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, the company decided not to compete in the market any longer.
Timex Corporation transformed itself again in the mid-1980s as it abandoned its development of various consumer products and refocused efforts specifically on timepieces. 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. 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.
Following on the success of the Ironman Traithlon line, Timex introduced the Indiglo night light during the Christmas shopping season in 1992. By January 1993 Indiglo had made headlines as a result of the bombing of the World Trade Center 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. Sales immediately took off leading to an increase in Timex's American market share.
Timex Corporation acquired Callanen International, the producer of Guess? Watches, in 1991 as part of its "multi-brand strategy". Timex and Disney reunited in 1993 to produce a new line of character watches called Disney Classics Collection. 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. 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.
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. Under its Callanen subsidiary, Timex acquired the watch license for urban fashion designer Marc Ecko in 2002.
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.
Timex launched a new brand In 2006 called TX, marketed around innovative technology and affordable luxury. During the same year, Timex Group B.V. acquired the ultra-luxury hand-made Swiss brand Vincent Bï¿½rard.
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. Timex Group B.V. purchased the Italian design studio Giorgio Galli Design Lab in 2007.
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 ceoï¿½s have managed the Timex Group and brand, which has contributed to the brandï¿½s less-than-stellar earnings in the last five years. While Timex Groupï¿½s Sequel division, which houses the Guess collections, has grown tremendously to rival Timex as the firmï¿½s top earner, the signature brand has been flat." 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. Meanwhile, parent company Timex Group B.V. launched two new Swiss-Made luxury watch brands ï¿½ Salvatore Ferragamo Timepieces and Valentino Timeless ï¿½ under the Timex Group Luxury Watches business.
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. A few months later Timex Group USA purchased ownership of the Marc Ecko watch trademark it had licensed since 2002. At the same time, the Callanen International business unit merged with the Timex Business Unit bringing the Timex, Opex, TX, Nautica and Marc Ecko brands all under one house.
In an agreement announced on June 16, 2009, Timex Group USA became an official sponsor of the NFL's New York Football 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.
In honor of Timex's 50th anniversary, the company re-released their classic Timex 80 watch. The iconic retro design of this basic digital watch made it a hit with both fashion lovers and retro watch enthusiasts, and the range has since expanded to jumbo sizes, silver and gold metallic finishes and calculator watches.