Timex Ironman

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Ironman Triathlon 30-lap FLIX T5E901 watch

The Timex Ironman (Ironman-Triathlon) is a digital wristwatch first produced by Timex in 1986 that continues to be made in various styles today.

History and development[edit]

Ironman 20th anniversary model
Datalink USB dress edition with default time display and Ironman Triathlon Datalink with leather strap

In 1984 Timex worked together with the officials of the Ironman Triathlon sporting event to develop a new digital watch to help sagging sales within the company. The result was the Timex Triathlon. After a $20 million advertising campaign featuring toughness tests performed on the watch, the Ironman became a success. In 1986, Timex acquired the rights to the Ironman name, and developed the Ironman Triathlon watch based on the 1984 watch. The basic functions and design were the same as its Triathlon cousin, except that the Ironman was water resistant to 100 meters instead of 50, given an updated look with a black, orange and grey color scheme on the watch face and the 19mm ribbed wrist strap was adorned with the Ironman name and 3 stylized "M" logos. Sales for the new watch grew rapidly; although both models continued in production for many years, Ironman sales much exceeded those of the earlier Triathlon watch. The Ironman Watch includes time, stopwatch (chrono), timer, occasion alarm, and three alarms. The first generation Ironman watches were commonly used by military and law enforcement personnel. A mid-sized, ladies/youth version of the watch was released the same year as the original. The original 1984 Triathlon and 1986 Ironman (full-size/midsize) watches remained in production until 1991, when the first of many cosmetic and design refreshes came along. This era of Timex Ironman is now known amongst watch collectors as the "Pre Indiglo" Ironman. An all-metal version of the Ironman was produced for a while in the 1990s and early 2000s. It featured a chrome plated brass case with a stainless steel screw down caseback.[1]

Indiglo technology[edit]

Timex Ironman Triathlon Datalink model 78401 worn by astronaut Daniel T. Barry on the STS-72 Space Shuttle Endeavour and cosmonaut Sergei K. Krikalev, Expedition One, on the ISS

In 1992, the Ironman got its first major technology update since its introduction six years earlier with a new Indiglo electroluminescence technology to replace the mini white corner backlight. Initial models of the Indiglo Ironmans were based on the same 1986 design, except they were painted black and silver, given a different wrist strap and were available exclusively at K-Mart before expanding into the market in early 1993. The original 1986 color scheme Ironman would get the Indiglo backlight at this time as did the Silver/Stainless steel full-size version. The ladies/midsize Ironman would not get the Indiglo technology until 1994. In 1996, Indiglo/TIMEX developed a reflective blue-green or "all-day Indiglo" for its Ironman and other digital watches. This reflective technology has since been adopted by other watch makers and has seemingly been abandoned by Timex as evident in newer (post 2005) releases of its Ironman and other digital watches as they no longer have the reflective screens.

The Timex Ironman continues to be Timex's best selling brand. It has been updated over the years, with examples including the Timex Datalink Ironman.

A Presidential watch[edit]

Bill Clinton wearing the Ironman

U.S. President Bill Clinton owned and wore several early models (including the original) of the watch during his time as Governor of Arkansas and in the early years of his Presidency. In one of his early Presidential photographs and at his 1993 Inaugural Ball, he is seen wearing a blue and black Ironman Triathlon. Clinton's forgoing of a more presidential watch such as a Rolex earned him some criticism; Gene Weingarten of the Washington Post described Clinton's timepiece derisively as “a plastic digital watch, thick as a brick and handsome as a hernia”, while Omega SA ran ads in 1992 suggesting that Clinton should give up the Timex in favor of something more expensive. Clinton stopped wearing his Ironman publicly in 1994, starting with the 50th anniversary of D-Day.[2][3] Clinton has since donated one of his early Ironman models to the Smithsonian.[4]


  1. ^ "Ironman Triathlon Watch - A History of the Timex Company". Weebly. Retrieved 2019-09-12.
  2. ^ Wolff, Natasha (11 July 2016). "All the Presidents' Watches". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  3. ^ "First Watch: U.S. Presidents and Their Timepieces". WatchTime - USA's No.1 Watch Magazine. 19 February 2018. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  4. ^ Mark A. Tabb (1 January 2006). Living With Less: The Upside of Downsizing Your Life. B&H Publishing Group. p. 87. ISBN 978-0-8054-3296-1. Retrieved 18 November 2012. When Bill Clinton first came to office, he was criticized for wearing a Timex Ironman Decathlon watch rather than a Rolex or some other more “presidential” watch. Clinton's Timex now sits in the Smithsonian Museum. Most people don't care ...

External links[edit]