I've been wanting to get another Timex watch to replace the old Timex Expedition I retired ages ago. It may have taken a few years, but I finally got a proper replacement from the Waterbury collection.
To say that I am very pleased with the watch is an understatement. The long wait was definitely well worth it. But then I'm getting ahead of myself. Before we jump into the nitty-gritty of this acquisition, let's take a few moments to go over the events that led to this point.
A Recap of Events
After finally retiring my Timex Expedition, I was on the lookout for something different, but in the same line. Instead of getting another Timex, I ended up purchasing a Casio G-Shock.
It wasn't a proper replacement, I know. I always felt that my storied Timex deserved to be replaced with another Timex, especially since it accompanied me over several mountains, caves, rivers, and lakes. It was even with me as I climbed a leech-infested mountain at the height of a drenching typhoon.
However, by the time I retired it, the watch market began to undergo a major change. Bigger-faced watches where all the rage and light plastic ones were being advertised as tough alternatives to heavy metal ones.
It also didn't help that my wife wasn't a fan of Timex anymore because their designs hardly changed over the years. Well, when she put it that way, I had to admit that their watches were a bit staid. Had I replaced my Expedition, I would have ended up with the same or a similar model.
So with a heavy heart, I looked elsewhere. If Timex wanted me back, it needed to add newer designs, such as those with big faces, to their repertoire.
Despite my adopting a different brand, I admit to still having yearned for a Timex mainly because it was with me during some of the most interesting times of my life. Each location I visited was different, giving rise to a multitude of distinct and vivid memories. All that history made it difficult to totally discard the brand.
The Road Back to Timex
It may have felt like an eternity, but sometime in the past, Timex updated their watches. Instead of boring designs that looked like something from the early twentieth century, they now offered a multitude of new models in various shapes, sizes, and colors.
With so much to choose from, I found myself dropping by various Timex branches. At times, it would be between errands; on other occasions, I would window shop just to kill time.
Finally, Timex had big-faced watches. They also had a larger variety of modern casual, sleek dress, and massive activity watches. Yup, this time around there was more to choose from.
[So even if some of them looked like the same watch in different shades, the new color combinations were put together less haphazardly this time around.]
Even with a much wider range to choose from, it was the Waterbury series that stood out for me. And there was one specific model that caught my eye, pulling me back week after week as it called my name.
Prior to this to this moment, I must admit to trying extremely hard to convince my wife to give Timex another gander. Perhaps it was my relentless requests or maybe it was because of the spark in my eyes that finally convinced her to allow me to drag back into a Timex branch.
Before we go any further, I would just like to note that we aren't talking about a Breguet or a Patek Philippe here. What we are discussing is Timex, which is something in whole different price range.
[Heck! If I had money, then we'd be talking about a Breguet watch right now because those watch arms are pure art.]
So please temper your expectations as we aren’t talking about a timepiece that costs more than a condominium unit or two. Nope, we’re just discussing a watch the average Joe can buy. So if I begin to sound impassioned enough to enflame your desire to drop everything you're doing and rush to your nearest watch shop, please step back from your screen and take a deep breath.
Speaking of setting expectations, I would like to make it clear that I am absolutely not a watch aficionado. A watch for me is just there to tell the time. And since I can get the same information from my mobile phone, which does a heck of a lot more than just tell time, I’m not interested in paying big bucks for something that just does one thing.
For some strange reason, the local watch market appears to have chosen a range of PhP 3,000 to PhP 10,000 to market the bulk of their affordable watches. By comparison, these same models are a third to about half the price abroad.
This is the segment I usually stick to when selecting a watch. Sure, I can get the same thing cheaper online, but I'm more comfortable having the actual model in my hands before paying for it. Also, I don't want to have to deal with the hassle of returning it if I find imperfections in the one sent to me.
It may be interesting to note that original watches can be purchased for as little as PhP 750 in some malls. In fact, my workhorse cost me PhP 2,500. However, at that price, the designs tend to be less than stellar. My workhorse is so plain that I purchased it specifically for public transportation because I doubt it could be fenced if stolen.
It is also in the range where the lens is made of glass. Lower priced watches may have plastic lenses which tend to scratch easily. Over time, the color of a plastic lens tends to change to a translucent brown that eventually makes it difficult to see the face underneath.
Sure, I can buy a smart watch to get the best of both worlds, but that is where I draw the line. If I am going to strap something to my wrist, it will only be a proper watch and not some smaller cell phone pretending to be a timepiece.
[I grew up in the age of the calculator watch and never wanted one to grace my wrist.]
Nope, I’m a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to dials. It’s kind of like my preference for analog instrumentation in a car instead of today’s digital work.
[There are just some things you don’t mess with on this earth.]
Having said that, the price of this particular model sits at the higher end of the Timex price scale, which is a little over PhP 8,000,
[It was more than what I was willing to pay.]
But then the call of the Waterbury was strong and I just couldn't resist. When I finally strapped it on to my wrist, I knew at that precise moment that I’d be taking that baby home with me. Especially since there was the only one in stock at the time.
Just to be clear, I didn’t tell the saleslady to wrap it up immediately. I took my time to carefully consider if I’d be willing to pay for such a thing. I had to be clear whether this was a want or a need, given the price. And since I was clear that it was a want, I had to make sure I wouldn’t regret buying it.
Seeing the twinkle in my eye, my wife now took the position of trying to convince me to get it. She said that I had been bugging her for years. And now that I finally succeeded in dragging her back to Timex, it would be insane not to get it.
Seeing that the balance had shifted to me-no and wife-yes, the saleslady focused all her efforts on my wife instead.
[Crafty lady, she was.]
But both my wife and the saleslady didn’t have to try hard. All I was doing was postponing the inevitable because I knew what was going to happen.
So even if it was out of my budget, I was fortunate enough to purchase it through zero percent interest, spread over three months, with an additional three-month' deferred payment. So apart from spreading it across three months, my credit card will bill me after three months.
[Not bad at all!]
Waterbury Clock Company
Way back in 1854, the Waterbury Clock Company was established in Waterbury, Connecticut in the United States by the owners of the Benedict & Burnham, a company engaged in the manufacture of brass-related materials. Starting out as a maker of clocks, the company would go on to become one of the largest makers of inexpensive pocket watches by 1888.
In spite of its great success, poor marketing practices would push the company into bankruptcy years later. The impact was so bad that even a shift to more expensive and complicated pocket watches was unable to keep the company afloat. Production finally halted and the company went into receivership by 1912.
The Waterbury Clock Company would be resurrected with the arrival of the First World War. During this period, the company modified its pocket watches, which was sold under another brand name, by adding a strap which effectively turned it in to a wristwatch. In addition to the watch wrapped around a soldier's wrist instead sitting his pocket, the numbers were coated in a luminescent substance to allow it to glow in the dark. This gave individual soldiers the ability to know the time without necessarily having to go near light sources which could reveal their positions.
The company would undergo a major change in 1941 when controlling interest was sold to Thomas Olsen and Joakim Lehmkuhl, both who were Norwegian immigrants fleeing the beginnings of a second world war in Europe.
After the United States was pulled in to the Second World War, production ramped up to keep pace with the demands of the military. And after being awarded a certificate of excellence, the company was officially renamed to the United States Time Corporation.
The close of the Korean War in the 1950s meant that military demand for watches dropped substantially. In order to survive, the company once more looked towards creating inexpensive watches through improved designs and better manufacturing techniques.
After producing trial units five years prior, the improved watch was officially launched to the public in 1950 under the brand Timex. Apart from a simpler mechanism, the expensive jewels used as bearing in traditional watches were replaced with Armalloy, a harder and more durable metal developed by the military. To drive the point home, all the new watches were launched with the tag line "Takes a Licking and keeps on Ticking."
The combination of low prices and the tapping of new channels, like department stores and even drug stores, served to push sales of Timex watches to the number one position in 1952. Apart from the United States, the company began to expand to countries in Europe and Asia.
Due to the success of the Timex brand, the company was underwent another name change. And this time, it took the name of the brand that made it a success by becoming the Timex Corporation in 1969.
The arrival of the digital quartz watch would be a game changer for the entire industry. Apart from the accuracy, the use of number instead of hands to tell time, would drive just about every mechanical watch maker into bankruptcy. Japanese companies would rise from the ashes of European and American watchmakers with watches that sported a Liquid Crystal Display, or LCD, instead of watch arms. I was still a kid in Grade School when classmates would come in sporting the latest digital watches from Casio, Seiko, and Citizen.
Many European watchmakers responded to the digital onslaught by coming together under the Swatch brand to survive. The Timex Corporation responded by expanding its products, including its entry into the technology market. Brutal competition saw the company abandoning non-watch related products by the 1980s. It would then refocus itself on its core competency - timepieces.
With quartz movement gaining a reputation of being more accurate than the mechanical one, the Timex Corporation focused resources on creating the quartz analog, in addition to the digital watches. For the latter, the company combined its reputation for toughness with digital technology to create the Ironman Triathlon line in 1986. It became the top choice for sports watches soon after its introduction.
One of the things that would be introduced as a later innovation for digital watches was a tiny screen light bulb. Instead of having to reach for a flashlight or hunt for another light source, all one needed to do was press a tiny button and a portion of the LCD screen would be illuminated. The problem with this was that only a portion, sometimes around a fourth or a third of the screen would be illuminated, making it difficult to see the digits clearly. And since the bulbs were tiny, the bigger the screens was, the less effective it would be.
Perhaps the one thing all Timex watches are known for would come in the year 1992. This was when the Indiglo technology was introduced to the market.
It was unique in the sense that the entire screen, not just a small portion, was bathed in a blue light. It works like a neon light, but instead of a round glass tube to hold the gas, it is a thin transparent plastic spread over the entire screen. Pressing the crown converts the 1.5 volts of the watch battery into 100 volts sent through the plastic to excite the gas and light it up. I understand that majority, if not all, Timex watches since then come with Indiglo.
In 2008, the company would undergo the latest change of ownership as it is now owned by Timex Group B.V., a holding company based in the Netherlands. Apart from Timex, the brands it owns or is contracted to manufacture include watches under Vincent Bérard, Marc Ecko, Guess, Opex, Nutica, Salvatore Ferragamo, Valentino, Versace, and Versus.
The Waterbury Red
To commemorate the 150th year of the Waterbury Clock Company, Timex started the Waterbury collection.
As far as I'm concerned, three things set it apart from their other lines. First of all, I fell in love with the face as it used an interesting shade ash-gray that works well with the pale yellow of the numerals.
Second, it sports the raised glass that Timex was known for in the past. Current watches, especially those in this price range, tend to come with glass that is level with or below the bezel. And since the model I chose comes in a 42-millimeter polished stainless steel case, the raised glass makes quite a statement.
[I've actually become quite paranoid about the face since the glass sticks out.]
Third, the strap was just something I could not refuse. It is about as thick as a belt and has one of the nicest shades of reddish-tan I have ever seen. It was actually the strap that sealed the deal for me.
[The strap is truly thick; not like the fake padding used by other straps to add girth.]
I learned later on that this particular strap was exclusive to the Japanese market. Timex made it available outside that Asian country only recently, drawing accolades for it.
[I am now in a quandary as how to get a replacement strap for it.]
I remember the Tissot I purchased decades ago had a face considered to be fairly large back then. However, with the advent of bigger faces, that old watch looks like something a lady would have on her wrist today.
I have actually been resisting getting a big watch for the longest time because my wrist isn't exactly thick and I felt that a large watch would emphasize its diminutive size.
However, after dipping my toes in the water with the big face of the Casio G-Shock, I was now ready to take the plunge by migrating to bigger watches.
At 42 millimeters, the Timex Waterbury certainly isn't a dinky little watch. However, it isn't massive like the 46 millimeter ones offered by other brands. For me, I'd say that it's just right; not too small to look like a ladies' watch and not too big to resemble a wall clock.
Not only is it bigger, the polished stainless steel case is also thicker and heavier than all my old watches. So whenever I strap it on, I know it's there.
Finally, I like the sizes of the chronograph buttons and the crown. They are much bigger than similar designs from Timex, complimenting the rest of the watch. The combination is so good that even my wife considers it to be a very masculine looking watch.
With the new battleground switching from mobile phones to watches, my first serious foray into this war is the Timex Waterbury. The face, including the ash-gray color, sets it apart from other watches. The size of the polished stainless steel case and buttons give it just the right level of masculinity. The numbers on the face are equally big and easy to read, with the notches between numbers magnified by the glass.
And speaking about the buttons, they aren't just for show as they actually stop and start the beautifully shaped chronograph arm. Then the reddish-tan color and thickness of the strap just feels great on the wrist.
It has all the bells and whistles like a modern, high tech car. The hour and minute arms have glow-in-the-dark paint on them. There is a date indicator at the four o'clock mark. And if I want to see the rest of the face, all I need to do is press the crown to have the Indiglo light everything up.
[I kinda miss the glow-in-the-dark arms and Indiglo every now and then when wearing other watches.]
If there is anything that prevents this particular model from attaining perfection, some consider the tiny second arm at the six o'clock position to be the limiting factor. I must admit that took some getting used to. Fortunately, the color is consistent with the rest of the watch so it isn’t that bad. It is also good at adding activity to the face since the big timer arm remains stationary at the 12 o'clock position when the chronograph is not used.
[If it bothers you, the model of my best friend's Timex Waterbury doesn't have this tiny second arm.]
The only one thing that concerns me about this watch is the inability to get the original strap! I already placed an order for it at the Timex Shop in SM Megamall in anticipation changing it in the future. Unfortunately, it's been several months and they still don't have it in stock.
[While Timex and Philip Stein appear to be the only ones that sell original straps in the country, the Waterbury straps aren't offered.]
Being in the sweet spot of watches, you will actually find a lot of models that look alike, with only the logo differentiating them. The nice thing about the Timex Waterbury is that it stands apart from all these clones. And this is the main reason why it continues to be the favorite in my tiny collection.
[I’ll even go as far as to say that everyone should have at least one Timex in their collection.]
Sure, some may criticize it for being a Timex that happens to be more expensive in the Philippines than abroad. However, the extra cash goes to acquiring some peace of mind through a local warranty. In addition to this, the customer service of every Timex salesperson I consulted, whether at a standalone store or within a mall, has been the best of all the watch stores I visited.
Given that watches are the new battleground, does that mean I'll be upping my ante by jumping to a higher price bracket? Well I'll tell you, I am extremely tempted to buy more timepieces as of this writing.
My problem is that the six-month, zero interest payment plans make it so easy to pull the trigger on a new watch in this segment. Fortunately credit card companies haven't extended their zero interest payment schemes to 24 months.
[If they did, that would be a really big problem as I have several higher models on my shopping list.]
It took all the energy I could muster get myself under control. And after a few months, I finally stopped going to watch shops and managed to avoid visiting websites devoted to them.
[At least for the time being.]
Well, it's time for me to head out again. Be sure to come and check with us soon as I will be featuring another watch in this this segment for you to consider. This time, we'll go back to an earlier gift of a Skagen. It came with a unique black strap that can easily be paired with office attire.