#65 - The Pitchman

Posted on Thursday, May 7th, 2020 at 9:31 pm by LaLonde Jewelers

I was recently at home because of the Covid-19 pandemic and watching TV, which I have more time to do and the show was “A Face in The Crowd”, a 1957 film staring Andy Griffith. In the show was a spot that featured a guy named John Cameron Swayze. I thought to myself, I know this guy but who was he?

I realized that he did some watch commercials when I was young.

He was one of the original Pitchmen, long before Billy Mays.

So, I checked him out, and sure enough, he was the face of Timex watches and he coined the famous phrase “It takes a licking and keeps on ticking."

They did all kinds of commercials, like a steamroller pushing a Timex watch into an asphalt road and digging it out and sure enough, it was still ticking. Or dropping it off a tall building, it was still ticking. And Mickey Mantle hitting a couple of baseballs with the watch strapped to his bat, and it was still ticking.

Now this phrase that John coined would turn out to be one of the top iconic phrases of all time.

John was one of the original pitch men in the 60’s and 70’s. He brought Timex into the forefront of quartz movement inexpensive watches and has helped carry this watch company even today.

So, John started his career as a News Commentator and ran some TV Game Shows in the 40’s and 50’s, but was best known as a product spokesman.

I thought about him and realized that in the mid 1970’s I had a chance to see him in person. He was invited as a speaker to the annual Michigan Jewelry show held in the Detroit area. This was at the very beginning of my career in the Gem Business.

John Cameron Swazye

I really don’t remember much about what he talked about except his opening line. He said “There was a watch maker from Wyandotte who broke his wrist, and now he can’t wind-dot-watch”.

Now I know I have told that joke more than a thousand times and I laugh louder every time I tell it.

Some people just stick with you in your life know matter how simple of a meeting.

Written by Dan LaLonde, G.G., G.I.A.
Lalonde Jewelers & Gemologists
The Gem Expert