Brilliant Timex billboard ad takes aim at Apple Watch

Smartwatches have made leaps and bounds over the past decade, with the Apple Watch now outselling the entire Swiss watch industry. But with great power comes great notification volume — as this brilliant new Timex ad is keen to point out.

The watch brand has just unveiled its new collaboration with American clothing company Adsum, and it’s a delightfully minimal watch. And it looks like Timex and Adsum are keen to emphasize its role as a not-so-smart watch. (Delaying that digital detox? Check out the best Apple Watch Series 7 deals.)

Timex billboard with text

(Image credit: Timex)

“For Adsum’s first collaboration with Timex®,” the clothing brand announced. (opens in a new tab), “we chose the MK1, a watch originally produced for a short time for the US Marines; the MK1 has endured beyond its original purpose due to its utilitarian simplicity. If you look closer, you’ll notice a few tweaks to the simple watch face that makes it our own.” And on the back is engraved the text “I AM PRESENT” – like a pretty, uh, invisible reminder to live in the moment.

The back of the Adsum + Timex MK1 with the text 'I AM PRESENT' engraved

(Image credit: Timex)

The Adsum + Timex MK1 (opens in a new tab) costs $140 and features a quartz movement and luminous hands in a 36mm stainless steel case. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, it is currently showing as sold out on the Adsum website.

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A billboard promoting the watch is currently making the rounds online, and many like the anti-smartwatch ethos. “Knowing the time without seeing you have 1,249 unanswered emails,” reads the tagline. “Very, very smart line from Adsum – in the world of digital watches this dig is outstanding,” one user tweets, while another adds, “brilliant line on this ad.”

And it’s surely no coincidence that the minimal white design could easily come from Apple’s marketing department itself. We wouldn’t be surprised if, at first glance, passers-by think they’re looking at a smartwatch ad.

But the smartwatch brigade isn’t so convinced by the message. “Just reminded me how useful my smartwatch is,” one user tweeted. Many, meanwhile, simply can’t get over the concept of so many unread emails: “Or, just manage your emails better.”

While it might not be as smart as some of the best billboards of all time, it’s certainly a nice (and, dare we say, clever) design, with its tongue-in-cheek slogan destined to put a smile on the face of watchmaking traditionalists. If that doesn’t include you, take a look at today’s best Apple Watch Series 7 deals below.

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