Almost every watch enthusiast has owned or at least heard of Timex. They’re an American brand, yet many of their watches are made overseas.
This leaves many wondering where, exactly, Timex watches are made.
Timex makes its watches in America, the Philippines, India, Germany, and Hong Kong.
Timex used to manufacture its watches wholly in America. After financial ups and downs during the 20th century, it entirely shifted the production of its watches to its pre-existing facility in the Philippines.
This has been its main production facility, with other facilities in India, Germany, and Hong Kong, among others. From 2001 – 2019, Timex had not produced any watches in America. In 2019, Timex released the made-in-America “American Documents” collection, which is still available today.
Read on to find out more about where Timex makes its watches and where its production has shifted over the years.
Where are Timex Watches Currently Made?
The main assembly facility is located in the Philippines, while the technology used is engineered in Germany and the United States.
Timex watches were previously made in Middlebury, Connecticut. However, In 2001, Timex ceased all its production activities in the United States and shifted them to its overseas production facilities. These include the Philippines, India, China, and Europe.
Timex corporate headquarters are still located in Middlebury. The North Little Rock facility became Timex’s distribution center and customer service shop where repairs are done.
Timex’s facilities are spread across four continents, with over 7,500 jobs created. These facilities include:
- Middlebury, Connecticut
- Manaus, Brazil
- Besancon, France
- Pforzheim, Germany
- Cebu, the Philippines
- People’s Republic of China
- Jerusalem, Israel
- Delhi, India
This decision to cease production in America and give up the “Made in America” label was made to keep their long-standing tradition of producing affordable watches for the masses. The company claimed that their Philippines facility could do the task more efficiently.
Are Timex Watches Made in the USA?
In 2019, Timex introduced their American Documents collection, which would be wholly manufactured in America, except for the Swiss movement. All other components, such as cases and leather straps, would be sourced from American companies and assembled in the Middlebury plant.
The collection does not fully comply with the FTC Made in America policy because of the Swiss movement, so they added “Swiss mov’t” on the watch face to avoid issues with FTC. The label reads, “Made in America Swiss movt.”
Where were Timex Watches Made in the Past?
Timex watches have been produced in many locations, in and outside the US, for countless decades. Below, we delve deep into the history of the locations of these production facilities and the famous watches produced by some of them.
Through the centuries, Timex watches have been manufactured in these locations:
- Waterbury, Connecticut – Waterbury Clock Company (present-day Timex) was established in 1857.
- Middlebury, Connecticut – new production facility built in 1942.
- Middlebury, Connecticut – headquarters moved here in the early sixties.
- Chicago – Mini production line set up in 1932 to produce Mickey Mouse-themed watches.
- Arkansas – Timex built five production and distribution centers from 1945 onwards.
- Dundee, Scotland – Timex establishes 2 facilities in Scotland.
- The Philippines – Timex established two production facilities in 1975 and 1979 in Metro Manila and Cebu, respectively.
- The Philippines – All watch productions moved from the US to the Philippines in 2001. Headquarters remain in the US.
- Middlebury, Connecticut – Timex introduces a new collection (American Documents) to be manufactured in their US facility.
- Waterbury Clock Company
In 1854, a major brass products manufacturing company, Benedict & Burnham, ventured into the clock-making industry. This company was based in Waterbury, Connecticut. It saw an opportunity to compete with the more expensive European clocks being sold at the time by manufacturing cheap clocks using brass parts. This would lower their prices to about $6 which was considered affordable for most Americans at the time.
With the success of the clocks produced, Benedict & Burnham shareholders opened the Waterbury Clock Company (WCC) in 1857 to mass-produce clocks. This was based in Waterbury, Connecticut at Naugatuck Valley. This was a famous site for watchmaking in the 19th century, and was nicknamed “the Watch Hill”.
- Waterbury Watch Company
In 1878, WCC began testing a pocket watch design and set aside space for its production at their Waterbury plant.
With the success of the pocket watch, a new independent company was set up in 1880 specifically for the production of the pocket watch. This was named Waterbury Watch Company and was based in Waterbury, Connecticut.
Waterbury Watch Company’s goal was to produce pocket watches with cheaper movements. They did manage to lower the watch’s price to retail at $4.
Later in 1895, Waterbury Watch Co., through a partnership with Ingersoll, made a huge breakthrough by releasing the “Jumbo” watch that retailed at $1. This was called the Yankee and is famously known as “the watch that made the dollar famous”. Waterbury managed this low price by using stamped-out parts in their watches.
- New England Watch Company
Due to financial tides caused majorly by poor sales strategies, the Waterbury Watch Company has to close shop.
It was reopened in 1898 as New England Watch Company which only lasted till 1914. This company was also located in Waterbury, Connecticut. It was known for skeleton watches and women’s enamel watches.
With the rising demand for these products, the company added 5 new factories between 1898 and 1906.
In 1914, the New England Watch Co. was facing tough economic times and Ingersoll bought the bankrupt company.
The Chicago Mini Production Line
Post-war effects hit the Ingersoll company so hard to the point of bankruptcy. This necessitated the Waterbury Clock Co. (WCC) to merge with Ingersoll, birthing the Ingersoll Waterbury Company.
It seemed that misfortunes were the order of the day for the company, as it faced the biting effects of the great depression. As the company struggled to remain afloat almost unsuccessfully in 1932, a new hope emerged – they partnered with similarly struggling Disney to make the Mickey Mouse watch.
Ingersoll Waterbury set up a mini-production line at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. Here, people could order a Mickey Mouse watch and observe as it is made before leaving with them. A strategy that even Walt Disney didn’t believe in saved both companies as it surpassed expectations, so much so that they had to reduce the watch’s price from $3.5 to $2.98 because of the tremendous profits the watch brought in.
The patent for Ingersoll Waterbury Company’s Mickey Mouse watch was later awarded to Waterbury Clock Company in 1935.
Timex Moves to Middlebury
In 1941, Thomas Olsen, a Norwegian who had fled from the Nazi invasion, bought a controlling interest in the Waterbury Clock Company.
During World War II, the company moved to Middlebury and built a new facility. The US government then contracted the company to mass produce anti-aircraft fuses among other similar devices for combat.
The plant was later integrated to use precision tooling techniques and automation like those used in making fuse timers. After being heavily mechanized, the plant was able to mass produce cheap watches using simple standardized production techniques.
The company’s name was changed to United States Time Corporation in 1943. At this time, their repair center was in Little Rock, Arkansas.
By 1944, US Time Corp. had begun using the name “Timex” in nurses’ pendant watches. In 1945, the name was copyrighted in advertisements, and in 1950, US Time Corp released a Timex brand watch line. The company fully changed its name to Timex in 1969, which had become a household name at the time.
Timex in Arkansas
In 1945, Timex established a plant in Little Rock, Arkansas. This plant was used to manufacture Ingersoll alarm clocks.
In the subsequent years, Timex continued to expand, adding two more plants and a distribution center, all in Little Rock. A camera plant in South West Little Rock was also established.
By 1975, Timex was employing 5000 workers in Arkansas.
Between 1975 and the 80s, Timex shut down operations in two of its plants in Little Rock and those in Hot Springs. In 1980, it closed another service and repair center in Little Rock.
Timex in Dundee, Scotland
In 1946, US Time Corp expanded into Scotland where they established an overseas production facility in Dundee. This was largely affected by the incentives offered by the local government.
US Time Corp opened two production facilities; one in Milton of Craigie and another in Camperdown.
The Milton facility was predominantly comprised of male workers, skilled in engineering and toolmaking. This plant produced tools and components. The Camperdown facility was 80% female, making US Time Corp the largest employer of women at the time. This plant was where the assembly was done.
When Sinclair Research, who had contracted Timex to manufacture computer components for them ended the deal, Timex fell into tough times and tried to reduce wages and lay off employees. This led to a strike leading to the factory’s closure in August 1993.
Timex Moves its Headquarters
During the early sixties, Timex (US Time Corp till 1969) moved its headquarters, research, and development facilities from Waterbury to Middlebury, both in Connecticut.
The headquarters building in Waterbury was converted to the Timexpo Museum in 2001. The Museum was unable to sustain itself as a result of few audiences. Consequently, it was closed down in 2015.
In the 70s, the market for mechanical watches shrunk and Timex reduced its production and ceased advertisements to focus on digital watches. 1977 was a good year for the watch industry, and Timex decided to again increase production but failed to reinstate advertisements in their budget. This led to huge losses. Its sister corporation, TMX Ltd. in Bermuda, which supplies them watches and parts, also made a $5 million loss.
Venturing into the Philippines
In 1975, Timex expanded into the Philippines where they established an assembly line in Metro Manila.
Four years later, TMX Philippines Incorporated, along with its factory, was established in Cebu, Philippines. The plant was much bigger and more integrated than the Metro Manila plant. At the time of construction, the plant could accommodate 5000 workers.
As earlier stated Timex shifted all production to the Philippines in 2001 and later started producing the American Documents collection watches in Middlebury once again in 2019.
Are Any Timex Watches Made in Switzerland?
No, there aren’t any Timex watches made in Switzerland, but, the American Documents watches use a Swiss quartz movement.
In their endeavor to keep their watches available at affordable prices to the masses, Timex made a hard decision to unplug itself from its origins. It sacrificed the Made in America label and shifted production to its overseas facilities in the Philippines, Germany, India, and France among others.
After quite a long time outside America, the proverbial prodigal son returns home, where it now produces the American Documents collection, while its other watches remain produced overseas.