TIMEX and Ingersoll:
Two American Brands Strike Distribution Agreement and What It Could Mean For The Future

By: Kaz Mirza

TIMEX Group announced earlier this month on July 20th, 2018 that they would be taking over product distribution for watch brand Ingersoll. The agreement covers distribution within the USA, Canada, and Mexico while allowing Ingersoll’s corporate owner to retain creative control over the timepieces.

If you’re like me, you had absolutely no idea who Ingersoll was before hearing about this. But after doing research and investigating what the agreement represents and could possibly open the doors for, the news is actually pretty interesting. Ingersoll used to be an American-operated brand that was founded by two brothers in 1882. Ten years after their founding they began to sell watches wholesale to distributors and then eventually directly to the public. Over the next 30 years the brand continued to grow by specializing their product lines and growing their relationship with their time mechanism provider, the Waterbury Clock Company.

Then the 1921 recession hit and Ingersoll ate it hard and went bankrupt, only to be purchased by longtime associate Waterbury Clock Company. Afterwards for a few decades the Waterbury Clock Company continued to create Ingersoll watches and distributed them in the US, which led to many noteworthy achievements and notes of merit for both Ingersoll and Waterbury Clock Company.

But what’s important to note here is that over the years the Waterbury Clock Company eventually changed its name to the United States Time Corporation. But then about 20 years after that, it changed its name again to what we all know them as: TIMEX.


 
 

From the press statements both brands acknowledge that this distribution agreement is now another chapter in their long running history together. On the surface at the moment it seems like Ingersoll stands to benefit the most from the agreement since TIMEX will be doing the heavy lifting so-to-speak in supporting the presence of Ingersoll here in the USA as well as Canada and Mexico.

But I find it hard to believe that this agreement will exist in a vacuum. I think this is the first of many interactions that could potentially lead to some interesting developments not just for the brands but USA Watchmaking. After doing some research, one can find out that Ingersoll is currently owned by Zeon Watches, a British company that’s a subsidiary of Herald Holdings Limited based out of China. If you go to the Ingersoll website and start clicking around you may be surprised to see that a lot of their timepieces are actually mechanical.

Being a movement geek, I immediately needed to know if these were in-house or maybe modified ETAs or what. I just needed to know. At first I thought maybe they were American calibers that I just never knew about and I got really excited. Ingersoll isn’t shy about making consumers believe the products are American. But for clarity, the brand has a history in America, but I wouldn’t classify these as American timepieces. After doing all the research it looks like Ingersoll movements are Chinese based (some if not all specifically supplied by Hangzhou Watch Company). It seems like the movements are just branded on the rotor for Ingersoll – doesn’t seem like Ingersoll is modifying them at all (if someone knows for sure please let me know). But even though these Chinese movements don’t necessarily seem modified, it looks like Ingersoll is still branding them with their own caliber numbers.

At first I was disappointed and a bit annoyed. But then I remembered the Timex Marlin and how eventually everyone found out that it was being powered by a Chinese Seagull movement without TIMEX really disclosing it to consumers. It’s entirely possible that this initial distribution agreement could open the doors down the road for Ingersoll providing their branded mechanical calibers for TIMEX pieces. Whether or not that’s a bad thing remains to be seen. I’ve speculated enough and you guys can let me know if I’m reading into this too much, but for now let’s just see what happens with TIMEX pushing Ingersoll distribution in the US.


 

TIMEX Press Release
Ingersoll Website

Post Edit: I’ve been informed that Ingersoll also privately brands some Miyota movements to look like Ingersoll calibers.

 


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