Timex Torture Tests for the Brand That Keeps on Ticking

Nothing quite complements and completes your wardrobe like a fine watch. And when your watch combines style, sophistication, value, and aesthetics, you know you have a winner on your hands – quite literally. This is perhaps why the Timex brand has been one of the most enduring and one of the best-loved across the globe for over 165 years. The latest watches from the house of Timex are just as loved as they were a century and a half ago.

The Waterbury Clock Company (WCC) decided to bring home to the USA, superior watchmaking technology which had been the mainstay of Europe and they decided to make strong, sturdy, and inexpensive watches that would become the favourite of millions across the globe. The growing love of television and the nascent TV advertising campaigns gave Timex the perfect opportunity to boost sales – along came the Timex torture test.

Timex Torture Tests for the Brand That Keeps on Ticking

The Timex Torture Test

Between 1952 and 1954, Timex ran a number of print advertisements featuring torture tests such as strapping their watches to turtles and race horses. Many of these advertisements feature sports celebrities such as Barbara Ann Scott, the Olympic figure skater, Babe Didrikson, the golfing legend, Mickey Charles Mantle, the baseball legend, and Rocky Marciano, the heavyweight boxer testing the watch. The ad tagline read “The Action Watch for Active People”. America was fascinated by the endorsement of their favourite celebrities.

By 1956, the television became the perfect medium for brands to establish a Pan-American presence and the Hirshon-Garfield ad agency made use of this to feature the Timex torture tests – a series of iconic television advertisement campaign to prove the durability and superior functionality of Timex watches. John Cameron Swayze, the incredibly handsome NBC newscaster was hired as the anchor of the series. He was a popular face and a renowned sports show host. A number of these advertisements involved putting the Timex watches through various challenges and proving their durability, water-proofing and shock resistance. While each of these advertisements feature John Cameron Swayze and his pressure tests, many of them involved other popular sports persons as well!

“It takes a licking and keeps on ticking”

Swayze would present, with characteristic suavity, some of the most incredible tests devised by the ad agency for Timex. This included Timex watches being put through paint mixers and spun around in vacuum cleaners and dishwashers or being frozen in a chunk of ice. In others, sportspersons would wear them as they participated in some of their feats. An ice skater wore her Timex on her boot, an Acapulco cliff diver held it as he took a nosedive from the steep cliffs into the seas, and an archer pegged it to his arrow which he shot over the Grand Coulee Dam. In others, the Timex would be strapped to the blade of a motorboat or to the pontoon of a seaplane fed to a Texan cow or cast off into the deep sea on a tackle line. Some of these tests were recordings and others done live. The wonder of the sturdy Timex timepiece and Swayze’s wit made it a hit. Each of these advertisements closed with the tagline, “It takes a licking and keeps on ticking.”

These Torture Test advertisements were aired between 1956 and 1960. Hundreds of thousands wrote in suggesting new torture tests; the advertisement and Timex garnered a vast fan base and sales started to soar. By 1963, every second watch sold in the US was a Timex and by 1967, Timex became the best-selling watch brand across the globe.

Brand Timex Endures

While the Torture Test advertisements of the 1950s did manage to impart a major boost to the Timex brand, the sustained popularity of these watches is due entirely to their superlative features. People looking forward to buying wrist watches online are awaiting the launch of three new Timex watches – American Documents, The Marlin Automatic, and Q Timex Reissue.



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