Watch and Clock Exhibit Comes to the Smithsonian

America’s fascination with time, watches, and clocks is the subject of a new permanent exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. Sponsored by Timex, “On Time” will open in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History on Nov. 18. The exhibit, which features some 200 U.S.-made watches and clocks from the past two centuries, explores the role of the watch industry throughout American history and the changing ways Americans have measured, used, and thought about time.

Timex and its corporate predecessors played a leading role in developing the American watch and clock industry. Many of their timepieces are featured in the exhibit. Among them are several clocks manufactured by the Waterbury Clock Co., one of several companies in Connecticut that dominated the mass-produced clock market in the late 1800s. Also included are watches by another of Timex’s corporate ancestors, Robt. H. Ingersoll & Co., which helped popularize the wristwatch in America early in this century.

Of the many watch and clock manufacturers of the late 1800s, Timex is not only the sole survivor but also now the largest-selling watch brand in America, according to the company. The brand is sold in some 80,000 retail outlets. “Our greatest accomplishment was inventing an inexpensive watch that really worked, at a time when no such thing existed,” says Suzy Watson, Timex’s director of advertising and public relations. A computer-compatible Timex Data Link watch brings the exhibit up to the present.

Timex has just published a coffee-table book detailing its history, Timex: A Company and its Community, 1854-1998. For information, visit the Timex Web site,

CFH Closes Its Doors

The CFH Institute in Switzerland, which specialized in watch and jewelry salesmanship and management, has closed after 35 years. The school offered courses in French and English to jewelers and watchmakers from around the world. In recent years, as more watch firms offered similar training, demand for its services dropped while costs rose. In September 1998, it moved from Lausanne to Neuchatel to share the facilities of the Watchmakers of Switzerland Training and Education Program. That cut costs, but not enough to remain viable.

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