Timex, based in Middlebury, Conn., has been famous for years with its often-repeated slogan - "takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin." It was founded in 1857 as the Waterbury Clock Co., and the Timex name was not introduced until 1951. During the '50s and '60s, Timex became a golden name in watches, known for reliability and realistic pricing.
Price for that early Timex watch? $2.Last year, Timex hit the big time again by introducing its patented Indiglo luminiscent watches, in which the entire watch face is illuminated with a uniform bright light providing readability in low light conditions. It's done at the push of a button. The light is the first payoff from Timex's 10-year investment in miniaturizing electroluminiscent technology to produce a gleam that is nontoxic and will never blow out.
Amid the panicked aftermath of the World Trade Center bombing last February, when all the electricity was shut off in Tower One, investment analyst Curt Blik led a group of people down 40 flights of dark and smoky stairs to safety with only the light from his Timex Indiglo watch.
The watch Blik wore retails for $42.95.
This single watch style has accelerated Timex revenues by 30 percent. Indiglo, introduced last November in six models retailing at $40 to $45, has been a major hit for Timex. It quickly sold out of the 200,000 produced last year and still cannot manufacture enough to meet the demand.
During his presidency, George Bush wore a Timex - and now Bill Clinton wears the fast-selling Timex Ironman Triathlon watch. Apparently, Clinton puts on the chunky digital watch at 6:30 a.m. prior to his daily run - and never changes the watch all day. This makes it the world's most publicized watch.
Timex President Michael Jacobi believes the Indiglo feature will become standard in watches, like quartz movements and water resistance. This year, Timex will devote all of its $10 million advertising budget to the Timex Indiglo. He hopes all the publicity will eventually persuade Vice President Al Gore to give up his Casio.
The Ironman Triathlon incorporates Indiglo night light with Night-Mode, a new twist on the patented lighting system. When Night-Mode is activated, the user can illuminate the display with the touch of any button and the Indiglo night light will stay lit for 3 seconds. Now those who run or bike at night can check their lap time and activate Indiglo simultaneously with just one touch.
Last year Timex acquired Callanen International, based in Norwalk, Conn., the company that produces Guess and Monet watches. Today, the Timex watch family includes 12 different watch brands, from Quantum at the bottom to Nautica at the top, priced from $10 to $295. With the exception of Nautica, all of the brands sell for less than $100.
According to Michelle Gabbert, spokesperson for Guess who attended the men's fashions Spring '94 preview in Los Angeles last month, people are no longer content to own only one watch. "They want something for day, something for evening and something for sports."
She then displayed the new Guess Indiglo sports watch, saying it would be available by Valentine's Day nationwide.
To double check, we stopped by the ZCMI's watch display last Thursday. Sure enough, inside a glass case filled with dozens of Guess' watches were several new Indiglo sports watches.
A close look at this watch and a glance at the surprisingly brief instruction booklet revealed that this amazing watch does everything but talk (not to be confused with tock).
In addition to noting the hours, minutes and seconds, it shows the date and day of the week. The chronograph mode measures split and lap times. You also have the option to use the alarm and the hourly chime.
The border encircling the dial comes in blue, red or yellow. Bands are rubberized to combat perspiration and water without causing damage or creating odor.
The Guess Indiglo sports watch retails for $48 and carries a 10-year warranty.
Here are the 11 brands of Timex:
Quantum - $10-$15
Acqua - $15-$25
Gizmoz - $20
Disney Characters - $20-$30
Carriage - $20-$30
Star Trek - $25-$40
Timex Ironman - $37-$48
Essentials - $40-$65
Monet - $35-$95
Guess - $42-$95
Nautica - $60-$295