Waterbury Clock made timekeeping affordable for working class Americans. Its inexpensive yet reliable shelf and mantel clocks, with cases designed to imitate expensive yet reliable shelf and mantel clocks, with cases designed to imitate expensive imported models, contained simple, mass-produced stamped brass movements. Waterbury Clock's products grew out of a long tradition of innovative clock making that developed in Connecticut's Naugatuck Valley, known during the nineteenth century as the "Switzerland of America."
Waterbury watch, a sister company, manufactured the first inexpensive mechanical pocket watch in 1880 and quickly sold more than any other firm in the world. "The Waterbury", known for its extraordinarily long, nine-foot mainspring, was assembled by a predominantly female workforce whose dexterous fingers were prized for the close and exacting work. Waterbury pocket watches sold throughout North America and Europe, and could be found in Africa, where they were presented as gifts to native chieftains, and as far away as Japan.
By the turn of the twentieth century, the watch industry's first and most successful mass marketer, Robert H. Ingersoll, worked with Waterbury Clock to distribute the company's "Yankee" pocket watch, the first to cost just one dollar. Twenty years later with nearly forty million sold, the "Yankee" became the world's largest seller and "the watch that made the dollar famous." Everyone carried the Yankee: from Mark Twain to miners, from farmers to factory workers, from office clerks to sales clerks.
During World War I, the U.S. Army required Waterbury Clock to re-tool the Yankee pocket watch into a convenient new "wristwatch" for soldiers; after the war, returning veterans continued to wear the handy timepiece, and civilians took them up in huge numbers during the 1920s.
The popularity of a brand new cartoon character led Waterbury Clock to produce the very first Mickey Mouse clocks and watches in 1933, under an exclusive license from Walt Disney. Despite the deep shadow cast by the Great Depression, within just a few years, parents bought two million Mickey Mouse watches for their children. Originally priced at $1.50, these same watches are collector's items that today command higher prices.
During World War II, the newly renamed U.S. Time Company completely converted its factories to wartime manufacturing. Over the course of the war, it turned an eighty-four year tradition of reliable mechanical timekeeping to the record-breaking production of more high-quality mechanically-timed artillery and anti-aircraft fuses than any other Allied source.
U.S. Times' wartime expertise in research and development and advanced mass production techniques led to the creation of the world's first inexpensive yet utterly reliable mechanical watch movement. The new wristwatch, called the Timex, debuted in 1950. Print advertisements featured the new watch strapped to Mickey Mantle's bat, frozen an ice cube tray, spun for seven days in a vacuum cleaner, taped to a giant lobster's claw, or wrapped around a turtle in a tank. Despite these and other extensive live torture tests, the Timex kept ticking. When John Cameron Swayze, the most authoritative newsman of his time, began extolling the Timex watch in live "torture test" commercials of the late 1950s, sales took off. Taped to the propeller of an outboard motor, tumbling over the Grand Coulee Dam, or held fist first by a diver leaping eighty-seven feet from the Acapulco cliffs, the plucky watch that "takes a licking and keeps on ticking" quickly caught the American imagination. Viewers by the thousands wrote in with their suggestions for future torture tests, like the Air Force sergeant who offered to crash a plane while wearing a Timex watch. By the end of the 1950's, one out of every three watches bought in the U.S. was a Timex brand watch.
The Timex brand name became a household word during the 1960s. It introduced the "Cavatina," its first women's brand in 1959 and with it, a revolutionary merchandising concept: the watch as an impulse item. For the price of one expensive watch, women could buy several Timex watches to match different occasions or ensembles. Technological advances allowed the company to offer a wide range of products, including the first low-priced electric watches for men and women, as well as several other, inexpensive jewelled models. Still another improved watch movement, introduced in 1961, served as the cornerstone for an extraordinary array of men's wristwatches.
Alone, among all the domestic watchmakers, only Timex survived the brutal 1970s watch industry shakeout caused by new digital watch technology and fierce price competition from the Far East. Having gradually phased out mechanical watch production in favor of digital watches, in 1986 Timex introduced its "Ironman Triathlon" watch, which became America's best-selling watch and, diversifying into a full line for men and women, became the world's largest selling sports watch, a distinction it held throughout the 1990's.
In the 1990s, a nearly 150 year old Timex vigorously pursued its long tradition of technological innovation and market leadership. The company introduced the industry's first electroluminiscent watch face in 1922, when the blue-green "Indiglo" night light feature appeared on some of its digital and analogue watches. More than 75 percent of all Timex watches are equipped with the "Indiglo" night-light. All-Day Indiglo display, a hologram-like material, provides greater contrast between digital numbers and the display background. In 1994, Timex introduced the "Data Link" system a sophisticated wrist instrument that carries scheduling, phone numbers, and other personal information, having collaborated with Miscrosoft to create the necessary software. In 1998, Timex pioneered its "Turn and Pull" analogue alarm watch and, in a joint venture with Motorola, the new "Beepwear" wrist pager.
Entering the 21st century, Timex was positioned as a leader in technological innovation and design with advancements in miniaturisation making previously unimaginable features a reality. Lifestyle-focused products fuelled the success of Timex: the wrist tells more than just time. Performance sport tools calculate speed and distance with GPS technology, heart rate monitors help athletes train smarter, and compasses and altimeters allow adventurers to venture further.
Timex continues to innovate in technology, style, and social reasonability. New products are igniting Timex leadership in new categories, and cutting edge styles continue to make the Timex collection versatile enough for any wrist and every occasion. Packaging, product designs and manufacturing processes now focus on recyclable materials and renewable energy. 2008 saw one of the largest installations of solar panels in the Northeast region of the United States at Timex Corporate offices in Connecticut.