Timex and the Complexity of "Made in America"
And should you be able to trademark bad words?
On Timex and Being “Made in America”
I want to like Timex’s new American Documents collection. I really do. Why then do I feel uneasy every time I visit the collection’s landing page, like it’s more sales than substance? The dial of the new collection is stamped “Made in America,” just above “Swiss Mov’t” (Swiss movement — it’s a quartz movement from Swiss manufacturer Ronda). There’s a 3-minute promotional video that doesn’t so much as show the actual watch until the last 7 seconds. Instead, it’s a montage voiced by a young bearded photographer, the type of guy you see purveying provisions in any newly gentrified wannabe Brooklyn in Anytown, USA (this one happens to be from Austin, TX). His voice plays over those quintessential, Rockwellian American shots we all know — think Forrest Gump’s run across America, sea to shining sea and all.
The bearded photographer tells us he loves photographing American because it’s a country where “you're not bound by anything, you can go anywhere and do anything, and this is reflected in the concept of the American dream.”
Okay. Easy enough for a white dude from Austin to say. But research says otherwise: most kids ends up in the same socioeconomic class as their parents, meaning the American dream is harder to achieve than ever. In this way, Timex is reminding us what the American dream actually is: a selling point, nothing more than a sexy sales pitch. And now, apparently the American dream insists upon you buying a $495 watch with a $20 Swiss quartz movement inside and a knock-off Calatrava design.
But this is where the self conflict comes in: I think what Timex has done — manufacturing the case, crystal, strap, and assembling the watch in the U.S — is truly laudable. Any company bringing jobs to America in a new way like this deserves praise. To be clear, this is a level up from Shinola selling its “we’re made in Detroit” myth. And I think it’s a step towards Timex creating even better made in the USA products. But why does it feel so damn dirty?
It’s a sales pitch that actually rings mostly true. But for some reason, like a watch with a cheapish Swiss quartz movement ticking inside, still feels hollow.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on Timex’s new Made in America collection. Comment by responding to this email.
Timex Goes “Made in America” with its American Documents collection. The dials of Timex’s latest release read “Made in America” just above “Swiss Mov’t”. The collection makes Timex the latest to attempt to capitalize on the “made in the USA” sales pitch, and is also Timex’s most expensive watch yet.
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