Still ticking – and always 10 to 2.

I’ve referred a few times here recently to my friend and former Montreal Gazette colleague Earl, who has provided several inspired ideas for posts, not to mention some hilarious comments on them. In one such comment – you owe it to yourself to read it here – he manages to invoke pretty much every icon of 1960s CBC television programming in one fell swoop. (Reminiscing about the funny bits, especially the unintentionally funny ones, in 1960s CBC TV shows was one of the things Earl and I liked to do while putting pages together at The Gazette.)

Anyway, in that comment he also made a glancing reference to an advertising staple of 1960s CBC programming: the commercials for Timex watches, featuring various “torture tests.” Do you remember those? You must. The one that most sticks in my mind is when they dragged the watch – a Timex Marlin, I believe – behind or alongside a power boat going through the reedy, weedy waters of The Pas, Manitoba. (I think it stuck with me because as a kid watching that ad on the Manse’s black-and-white TV, I found that name “The Pas” very interesting and exotic.) At the end of that ad – predictably, because it was the end of every Timex ad – the watch was hauled out from its “torture test” and was, yes, still ticking!

And the most amazing thing about those ads was that the filming was always arranged so that it would be exactly 10 minutes to 2 when they retrieved the watch to show it to us! How did they do that?

Oh, wait a minute…

Anyway, YouTube failed to cough up a video of the torture test in The Pas, but I did find another water-themed one. Wait till you get to the bit where the water-skier lifts up one ski so the Timex can be retrieved! At exactly – wait for it – 10 minutes to 2.

12 thoughts on “Still ticking – and always 10 to 2.

      • Often his first one. Couple of softball lobs, then follow the money. Check out the YouTube segment of Malcolm X (I am not making this up) appearing on FPC shortly before his assassination. Entre-temps, the most amusing thing about the Timex commercial, to me, is that you can buy a better watch in 2013 for $10.99 than you could half a century ago.

  1. The common 10:10 hand position is used to frame the manufacturer’s logo in a positive fashion. Contrary to belief, the 10:10 hand position does not commemorate the time of assassination of US President Kennedy [actual time: 12:30 pm].

    8:18 is another not uncommon variant but is less favoured as the hand position makes the clock/watch appear to be frowning. Again, contrary to popular belief, it was not used to commemorate the time of assasination of US President Lincoln [it was approximately 10:13 instead]..

    You can read more about this at the ultimate arbitration site, Snopes []

    • Gracious, I’d never heard those presidential-assassination theories about the positioning of clock hands in ads! Interesting what people will come up with. But I did know that Timex chose the 10-to-2 positioning so as best to frame the brand logo. (Also, early afternoon being a convenient time for filming torture-test commercials. Kidding!)

      • I remember a Get Smart episode wherein Starker (King Moody) [Siegfried’s (Bernie Kopell) bumbling sidekick] retrieves a Timex watch stuck to a giant electromagnet and declares “Ze vatch took a licking but it kept on ticking!”

      • Since we have an intrinsic bias toward regarding non-traumatic childhood events & memories in a favourable light, of course we would regard some sit-coms from the 60s & 70s as among the best…the power of nostalgia [I’m predicting the same for the current “The Big Bang Theory”. from the perspective of a decade or two in the future] But, objectively, Get Smart was indeed well done. That is why I didn’t hesitate to get all 5 seasons of Get Smart on DVD a few years ago when they became available.

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