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Timex Watches - Timex watches were the timepieces of the 1950s and 1960s. Respected newscaster, John Cameron Swayze was the host of the now classic "Torture Test" commercials to prove the reliability of the Timex wristwatches that debuted in 1950.

Timex Watches

His first "live" test placed a Timex wristwatch in a paint mixer. After being brutalized for a few seconds, the Timex emerged unscathed. Swayze then delivered his now classic line: "It takes a licking, but it keeps on ticking."

Once, one of the watches being tested in a tank of water got lost and Swayze was caught on "live" TV trying to fish it out of the tank. Other torture tests had watches being:

  • Frozen in an ice cube tray
  • Wrapped around a turtle in a fish tank
  • Taped to a lobster claw
  • Spun in a vacuum cleaner
  • Put on the leg of a race horse
  • Flopped on by a swimming dolphin
  • Tossed over the Grand Coulee Dam
  • Held fist first by a diver jumping off an Acapulco cliff
  • Attached to the blade of an outboard motor.
  • Swallowed by a farmer's cow (news story - Time 3/15/1963)
  • Strapped to Mickey Mantle's baseball bat

Mickey Mantle Timex Torture Test

Since the 1950s, Timex has built upon its torture test, waterproof watches and introduced a steady stream of technological advancements including: the first full-featured sport watch (Ironman Triathlon); an illuminated night light watch (Indiglo); the first watch to interface with a personal computer (Data link); and the first watch to use global positioning technology (Ironman speed + distance system). Timex has also introduced a variety of watches in cool colors and shapes to attract young, hip customers.

TRIVIA NOTE: Ad historians know that Bulova created the "watch torture test" (including one featuring a fall over Niagara Falls-"Bulova Clipper Conquers Niagara Falls").

When Bulova dropped the idea, Timex recycled it for its own ad campaigns. Timex, founded in 1854, began as the Waterbury Clock Co of Waterbury, Connecticut. In 1917, the US Army asked Waterbury to redesign their popular "Yankee" pocket watch into a wrist watch for their troops.

As the soldiers returned home after the war, the new watch design became a favorite with the civilian population.

Newscaster John Cameron Swayze died on August 15th, 1995.

Timex 'Alligator Swallows Explorer' ad
Timex ad "Alligator Swallows Explorer" with the tagline "Ridiculously Easy to Use". Campaign created by the Fallon Agency. Alligator created by Animal Makers, Inc.

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