Welcome to Brand Breakdown, a series of comprehensive yet easy-to-digest guides to your favorite companies, with insights and information you won’t find on the average About page.
The Waterbury Clock Company sprung into production in 1854 in Waterbury, Connecticut, and by 1944 the firm was about to go broke. Some corporate consolidation and a rebranding to “Timex Corporation” saved the American company, which would go on to become one of the world’s most prolific and well-known watch brands. The 1970s saw Timex scramble to survive the Quartz Crisis caused by Seiko’s new electronic watches, resulting in the firing of tens of thousands of mechanical watchmakers worldwide and a refocusing on digital computing technologies. Competition in that field was tough, and by the 1980s Timex gave it up and largely returned to analog watches.
Though Timex watches remained a staple of American consumerism, it wasn’t until the early 1990s that the company took flight again. They introduced the Indiglo backlight in 1992, and when the World Trade Center bombing of 1993 scared Americans silly, an office employee used a Timex with Indiglo to lead a group of people down 40 pitch-black flights of stairs. This made headlines, and sales took off.
Since then, Timex has steadily held its position in American stores and hearts, but just a few years ago the brand played into the vintage watch craze and found themselves unable to keep up with market demand for its Marlin mechanical watches. These back-catalog re-issues have enough midcentury cred to win over the most snobby of collectors, and even Todd Snyder — former head of J-Crew’s menswear and an independent designer and retailer — helped the cosmopolitan set in America embrace Timex. The company was suddenly hip for the first time, and shows no sign of backing away from that trend.
As is the case with most big brands, the Timex catalog is deep and wide, with something for everyone. But prices remain incredibly reasonable, sometimes as low as $25, and never cresting above $500. And Timex has always been great at hooking young folks — for many American watch collectors, it was a Timex that turned them on to watches, thus cementing the relationship between the company and memories forged in childhood.
The Q Timex watches derive from the late 1970s and come in a few different styles, with new colorways and models on the horizon as Timex surfs the wave of the watches’ success. Unmistakably reaching for Rolex GMT Master vibes, this retro-looking watch proudly represents the era when Rolex look-alikes were the norm. Quartz movements keep the prices low and the timekeeping accurate.
Milan-based Timex head designer Giorgio Galli created a very special case to house a classic Timex time-only dial. At 41mm with a trusted Miyota automatic movement inside, this watch’s hollow lugs set it far apart from the rest of the company’s catalog, offering a cutting-edge flair you’ll only see from the side. This watch, more than any other, signals Timex’s return to high-craft mechanical watchmaking.
Movement: Automatic Miyota 9039
When Timex reissued the Marlin a few years ago, the watch world went nuts over this affordable mechanical beauty out of the back catalog. It’s got the 1960s all over it, and no one will know you’re wearing a modern watch. There are a few styles to choose from, including some lovely collaborations with designer and retailer Todd Snyder and several larger, automatic iterations.
Movement: Chinese handwound or automatic Miyota 9039
Realizing the rising appeal of their more classic offerings, Timex decided to make a watch here in the United States again. The movement is Swiss and quartz, but the watch is otherwise made domestically with parts sourced from American manufacturers, returning Timex’s roots to American soil.
If you were a kid in the 1980s, you wanted a digital watch. The T80 adorned the wrists of countless young and old back in the day, and the new T80, with its funky integrated bracelet and fun case colors, is as awesome as a table-top Space Invaders game.
Timex’s dive-inspired watches are smart, affordable, good looking, reasonably sized, and ready for adventure. When we think of dive watches in this price range, we often believe we will sacrifice quality materials or design acumen, but, along with Seiko, Timex has created a compelling entryway to the category that can (and do) become favorites in many collections.
Another broad-ranging line of watches priced for anyone, the Standard watches from Timex are what you’ll find on racks at big-box department stores. Admittedly — and perhaps purposefully — unimaginative, the Standards bring trusted designs and rugged Timex tech to offer at an incredible value.
According to Timex, this is the world’s most popular watch, having sold millions since its release in 1979. Straight forward and legible from across the room, these no-nonsense watches speak the Timex ethos of practicality and affordability most loudly. The Indiglo function will light it up at night.
These watches turn to the utilitarian midcentury designs Timex is famous for. A vast array of styles for both men and women make up the Waterbury line, and there’s something in there for everyone who’s seeking an inexpensive and reliable watch. There are youthful neon models, sophisticated, masculine models, and everything in between.
Movement: Quartz or automatic
The Expedition series watches are the rugged outdoorsy cousin to the Waterbury watches, offering an equally large array of models to suit everyone. Affordable, tough, legible, and ready for any adventure, the Expedition series range from time-only, field-ready models to elaborate digital units with multiple timers, to chronographs and more.
The Ironman series is where we find high-tech training watches with all the functionality one has come to expect from a digital gym-mate. There are step-counters, heart rate monitors, multiple timers and much more. Some models now include GPS for distance athletes to track their routes, and all come in, of course, at highly affordable prices. Like Timex’s other lines, there’s a wide range of styles, sizes, and functionality within the Ironman lineup.
These watches look to the stars and reflect them back to the wearer with unabashed opulence. A little bling, a bunch of class, and a lot of value, the two models available are ready for a special occasion. Opt for the automatic version for the look of true luxury, or choose a quartz model with your celestial sign on the dial and light it up with Indiglo for a nighttime dazzle.
Diameter: 37mm (quartz); 38mm (mechanical)
Movement: Quartz or automatic
A Timex Peanuts watch is as American as baseball and apple pie. This collaboration has been in place for decades, and there aren’t many people over 40 who can’t remember seeing these watches everywhere during their childhoods. Fun, iconic, and affordable, these are the perfect gift for the Charlie Brown in your heart. There are even some Marlin models with a precocious Snoopy figure hanging out on the dial.
More than a few American watch collectors will tell you that they fell in love with horology over their childhood Timex — yours truly included. Timex has had the kid’s market cornered for close to a century now, and no company seems able to make watches so capable of igniting young imaginations as the trusted American brand. From girly unicorn-themed pink do-dads to semi-serious Ironman models to nerdy digital units, there’s something for every kiddo in this diverse and fun collection.
Diameter: Little and littler
Before cell phones, Timex watches helped kids make it home before dinner. Now Mom and Dad can call their adventurous young one right on their little wrist, Star Trek-style. These small and capable watches have everything a kid would want (video games included), and exactly what a parent wants: namely, a secure and reliable connection to their kiddo at all times. The Family Connect works exclusively with T-Mobile networks.
Diameter: Universal kid’s size (not listed)
Movement: Digital CPU