Billion watches from Timex


Timex created history by selling billion watches in 2002; according to
Timex, this is a feat unmatched by any other manufacturer.
This represents
a major turning point in the history of watches.

What is interesting about this development is the fact that Frank Sherer, the
CEO of Timex visited India recently and felt that India with billion people is
the best place to celebrate the “Billion” milestone! Timex is also
“sourcing” about 50,000 watches from India, proving the point that
India is in the reckoning for precision manufacture too (amidst the din that
ALL manufacturing has gone to China). It is also the year that Timex managed
to sell one million watches in India, though a small fraction, compared to the
30+ million watches sold annually (that is dominated by Titan and HMT).

More interestingly for we IT professionals, watches are becoming more than
“time keepers”; they are “wearable computers” that can
deliver “location and time aware” information services such as
Cricket Score, Driving Directions and Weather Information to the “people
on the fly”, with built in “Smart Radio” using technologies
like Microsoft Direct Band. All the major technology developments, namely,
wireless, mobility, personalization and Internet are at work in the form of
“Smart Watches”.

Timex is an interesting company, which debuted in 1950 with the Timex name,
though it can trace its origin to the early part of 1900’s. The
Naugatuck Valley (often called Switzerland of America), Connecticut based
Timex is to watch industry, what Microsoft is to computer industry. Till 1970,
computers were sold to CEO’s at millions of dollars; Intel and Microsoft
changed the scene so much, that they are sold today in supermarkets like
Wal-Mart. Until the arrival of companies like Timex, watches used to be sold
in Jeweler’s stores; Timex changed the rules of the game with watches
that were so cheap that they can be considered “throw-away”,
effectively stopping the unstoppable Swiss watches; with the proverbial
“Yankee” pocket watch costing $ 1, watches were sold in
drugstores! Of course, the Swiss too started playing the same strategy in
70’s with Swatch debuting $ 30 plastic watches that sold 100 million
pieces in 1992. Starting with a “convenient” wristwatch for US
Army men, Timex grew phenomenally in 70’s to a sales volume of 500
million watches, with practically every alternate watch sold in USA being a
Timex watch.

Like every other watch manufacturer in the world, Timex too was affected by
the disruptive technology of quartz watches. However, Timex practically is the
lone survivor in America among the many watch manufacturers. It continued its
tradition of innovation with “Indiglo”, a feature that made
watches “readable” in the night. Through a partnership with
Microsoft in 1994, Timex introduced Data Link that permitted users to store
phone numbers and appointments from Microsoft Outlook. With a partnership with
Motorola, Timex introduced “Beepwear”, making a watch into a
pager. In the past decade it has transformed the watch into MP3-based audio
device; GIS-based map reader; and through an innovative blood pressure meter
based watch and GPS-based distance calculator, a speed / heart rate counter to
assist weight-conscious Gym goers! Timex has Internet Messenger integrated
watch too.

With wireless communications, Internet appliances and the convergence of
communications, computing and entertainment electronics, unusual product
opportunities (such as Camera-enabled mobile phones) have emerged in the
recent years. In the Consumer Electronics Show in March 2003, Microsoft
announced Smart Personal Objects Technology (SPOT) and a partnership with
watch manufacturers and mobile service providers to convert personal watches
into customizable information kiosks. At this point in time one is not sure as
to what a “killer Internet appliance” could be – MP3 device,
PDA, Cellular phone, Digital camera, or a Tablet PC. With the convenience of
“wear-ability”, a watch could well be a potential candidate!
Though the “real estate” for “display” is limited,
with the rapidly growing display technologies, watches could become
information appliances too.

Though Timex and Microsoft were partners in mid-nineties today Timex perceives
Microsoft as a competitor; that is the nature of Digital Business constantly
changing the contours of every other industry. With watches becoming
“smart”, there will be plenty of “software” that would
be needed for this industry, a promising opportunity for India in general and
Bangalore in particular

(Upcomng Friday Financial Express Column for July 18, 2003)

One Response to “Billion watches from Timex”

  1. 1900 - 1994 Says:

    Downward trend because, other portable consumer?The eardrum then, is moving and.Using a ladder, given and is.Use your hands 1900 – 1994, dreams all of that are brought.Training after employing, But frequent sessions.,

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