December 16, 2017
by Ariel Adams
If you haven’t noticed, Timex is starting to come back in a big way. Just a few years ago, Timex was the face of “legacy timekeeping” prior to the post-wristwatch age. More recently, Timex took a long hard look at what they are good at, what they offer the wristwatch consumer market, and most importantly, how they want to be relevant as well as novel for today’s newest generation of watch lovers.
Nearby where I live in Los Angeles, I came across an interesting piece of visual merchandising from Timex that was a sort of record player turntable turned into a watch case and strap customizer. Turns out that I was lucky enough to see one of the still rare items designed as part of the Timex Archive collection, which is a major part of the brand’s efforts these days. Timex Archive represents what you might consider to be the brand’s “vintage-themed” watch collection. However, not all of the watches are directly inspired by existing vintage pieces.
Given prices mostly under $150, I see the Timex Archive collection as either an easy to enjoy daily beater watch for someone who cares about watch design (and doesn’t want to spend too much), or as an accessible entry point for novice watch lovers looking to get into quality watch designs. Whereas something like a Swatch or Casio might have been a gateway watch in the past, Timex – with a more fashion-forward outlook for what today’s young people are actually buying – now offers among the best value in entry-point watches imbued with an authentic sense of nostalgia (Timex’s own nostalgia).
Even though Timex is an American brand, the design-side of the company is set up in Milan. An Italian focus on materials, textures, colors, and aesthetics has really helped revitalize the brand, and I think for a lot of people, the Timex Archive collection has at least one compelling watch. The customizer sure helps with adding variety. We can also see from the straps video how Timex used a combination of their design team as well as their manufacturing prowess to offer a range of products and straps at a price and quality most other brands at this price simply can’t offer. Below, we ask Timex a few questions about the Timex Archive collection, in order to put it into some context, as we will continue to explore specific Timex Archive models in the months to come.
aBlogtoWatch: What does “pulled from the Archives” mean in terms of historical context for Timex?
Timex: When we started the project, we did not necessarily want to refer to the past, but “look” at the past and then revise it in a contemporary and current way. This concept is the key to the whole project.
We think that too many brands are making only replicas of their classics, with Archive we have chosen a different path: reviewing our history, but interpreting it with the technologies, design, and modernity of the times in which we live, oriented towards a “modern” vision and innovative product.aBlogtoWatch: What was the genesis behind the Archive line in general, and around the three main collections (Metropolis, Pioneers, and Offspring), as well as the Mix Line?
Timex: The Offspring collection represents some of Timex’s most interesting historical periods with a design lens inspired by the book The Preppy Handbook, in which Timex is mentioned among the “preppy” accessories. Timex watches were widely worn by students and professors as part of the preppy movement.
We have chosen some of the typical elements of our most classic watches from the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s, such as dials with Roman numerals and 36mm cases. Also, we worked with classic finishing, gold, and steel. Important work has been done on the development of striped straps, starting from the ties in reps inspired by the Ivy League and Cricket players. Through the design and weaving process, we have created unique pieces in terms of colors, materials, and treatments (like the reversible or the dirty washed ones). All the strap fabrics are designed and produced in Italy.
Pioneers collection refers to the outdoor world and in particular, to a historical design period around the ‘70s called “Heavy Duty” by some Japanese enthusiasts.
It is a world that is inspired by “rugged” watches to match iconic garments of the outdoor world, all American excellence, and watches designed for outdoor life – often based on military styles.
Most of the straps of this collection are subject to exclusive stone washing treatments, replicating the aesthetics of vintage American field garments. Others are more technical, with high tenacity features such as the ballistic nylon. Metropolis is the most innovative collection, a transposition of the Pioneer world with urban and contemporary inspiration.
Cases and dials are combined in strong contrast: antiqued metal cases together with smoked and colored lenses, finding inspiration both in vintage, military sunglasses and in cockpit instrumentation of today’s supersonic jets. The contemporary “urban utility” look is further enhanced by reversible watchbands with reflective and fluorescent details for a “high visibility” concept. All is inspired by the traveler of the modern cities, a person in search of lightness, high visibility in the most adverse conditions. High-strength straps are also useful for getting noticed in the dark while biking in the city.
It’s important to stress the design of the new chronographs, equipped with a countdown – useful for calculating time related to pressing activities, which is very often part of modern day life.
aBlogtoWatch: What are these designs based off of? If historical products, which ones? Are there specific dates?
Timex: As mentioned, there are a few styles taken from our archives, such as the MK1 model, which we have reproduced in the original resin case also adopted for the military version “assigned” in the ‘80s, or our NSN-1K ana-digi classic model still equipped with a NATO Stock Number and seen on the wrists of NASA astronauts.
But the design comes more often through re-elaboration and reinterpretation of styles of various kinds, coming from our archive with traditional elements in the design of watchmaking. Certain dials, for example, have no specificity, because they are based on military specifications and we have reviewed them in different ways, changing fonts, proportions, and colors.
aBlogtoWatch: Can you give us more information on how the turntable wheel concept and the particular watch heads and straps began?
Timex: The idea of our “turntable” comes essentially from the desire to offer a new opportunity to our customer, a watch enthusiast who often loves to build his/her own product.
This has been the true genesis of the creative concept behind the turntable. We have “engineered” a turntable, giving the chance to customize a watch selecting from cases from 36mm to 43mm and straps from 18mm to 20mm, guaranteeing full compatibility for each chosen combination.
And, we have successfully registered the turntable at the US patent office!
As said before, most of the ribbons of the straps are manufactured in Italy on old mechanical looms. The stone washing treatment on leather straps is made in Italy as well. The cases and the dials proposed in the wheel are taken from the different collections and are therefore interchangeable. timex.com