I don’t like ketchup, but I could not resist the charm of a magically levitating bottle of Heinz Ketchup on this ‘three-hander’ proudly signed Timex.

I don’t know why exactly, as there was no intentional process behind it, but this year I happened to wear the Angelus Chronodato to most of my important business meetings and pitches. This is my routine: when traveling for business, I usually pack four serious watches, always one modern Omega Speedmaster coupled with three other vintage pieces. When I was packing for a business trip to the other end of Slovakia last week, I threw in the Timex Heinz Ketchup just for fun.

Timex Heinz Ketchup

Timex Heinz stage time

I was about to pitch a big corporate client in what was the final round of an important three-year contract. That morning I woke up at the hotel and looked at my watch roll. Two of the watches were out of their pouch slots, sitting next to each other on the soft light brown leather. Unexpectedly, I didn’t reach for the legendary Rolex GMT Master ref. 1675 that I put on a leather strap (to match with my belt). Without giving it much thought, I opted for the funky Timex with the Heinz logo on it. I wound it, put it on, and stepped in front of the management team without shame. We won the contract. This Timex Heinz Ketchup is my new lucky charmer.

Timex originality

We can all agree that a non-jeweled pin lever Heinz Ketchup constructed by Timex is nothing to brag about. But for me, this watch embodies the true Timex spirit and their historical contribution. Timex isn’t a brand that dramatically influenced the way watches are constructed, but it did a lot for getting them closer to the masses. By the early 1960s, one in three watches sold in the USA was a Timex. Timex never pretended to be what it was not. Not only the Indiglo backlit feature is a testament to the bright moments of Timex. This Timex Heinz Ketchup shows that even a simple mechanical watch as this three-hander can be turned into an original watch.

From an artsy perspective, I really like the simplification of the bottle, with the bit of glare on the bottleneck giving it more depth.

Mysterious Timex Heinz dial

I like breaking stereotypes in everyday life. To give you an idea, I always change my routes to the office, and I set my alarm for a different time each day. Just to feel I did the most to make each day new and special. This is what I like about the Timex Heinz Ketchup. It is a simple 33mm diameter watch with slightly curly Arabic numerals, thin black hands, and a pearl brushed effect visible on the dial. The only tweak is the missing standard second hand. Instead of it, there is a big transparent plastic disc attached to the center, nearly as big as the dial itself. The size allows for a whole Heinz ketchup bottle to be printed on it with the top of it, indicating the seconds.

If you don’t like the ‘Promotional watch’ framing for this Timex Heinz Ketchup, think of it as a character watch standing proudly in line next to Mickey Mouse, Snoopy or Popeye.

Printing quality

I studied the Heinz bottle under a loupe and was positively surprised by the printing quality. The thin lines outlining the bottle are consistently thick, keeping the red (or ketchup) quite perfectly within the bottle. From an artsy perspective, I really like the simplification of the bottle, with the bit of glare on the bottleneck giving it more depth. It could be much worse, I guess. If someone pitched this watch concept to me, essentially a cheap watch for promotional purposes, my mental image definitely would have been a more butchered design execution. It’s not a rule, but generally speaking, fifty-year-old mechanical items manufactured in the ‘old good times’ just come with high-quality details and execution.

The thin lines outlining the bottle are consistently thick, keeping the red (or ketchup) quite perfectly within the bottle.

Color stability

As an example, take the Heinz name written on the bottle’s second-hand label. From afar, it looks like a scribble, but the sharp-eyed among you will recognize the brand name perfectly written on it. They did a great job with color stability. If we consider that this Timex Heinz Ketchup might be a forty-year-old watch, the red has still maintained proper tones and perfectly matches the bigger Heinz logo above the six. This one is in similar printing quality, perfectly balancing the TIMEX logo below twelve. I like that the watch was not stripped of its production TIMEX origin. It only confirms that TIMEX was not ashamed of producing this piece, with the same being said for Heinz, who proudly put their logo next to that of an American watch icon.

Timex Heinz Ketchup origins

Well, here I am, falling down the rabbit hole. Most reference listings that I found on Timex Heinz Ketchup refer to the sixties or seventies, with me leaning more towards the 1970s or even early 1980s. I’m still not sure whether the watch was part of a game for consumers or just a promotional gift. But I am sure that some of our readers might remember the story behind the watch and will share it with us so that we can update the background story.

Character watches category

If you don’t like the Ketchup ‘Promotion’ on this Timex, I have a better story for you to tell. Think of it as a character watch, with the Timex Heinz standing proudly in line next to Mickey Mouse, Snoopy, or Popeye. I dare say that Heinz Ketchup is not just a brand, whether we like it or not, but rather a symbol that triggers as many associations and memories as Winnie the Pooh or Superman. The meticulous design execution of the Timex Heinz supports the notion that this watch deserves some recognition. At least in terms of originality in refreshing a basic mechanical watch.

Ketchup under the cuff

Under a particular angle and light conditions, the transparent second disc is nearly invisible. This makes the ketchup bottle look like it’s floating around in a cool magic effect. Typically, the second hand is much closer to the dial. This little change, doubled with the fact that the thin element is replaced by a thick bottle makes for a real charmer I could not say no to. Timex Heinz Ketchup watches resurface from time to time, with price tags varying based on the mood and expectations of the listing party. I got mine for thirty dollars, but I’ve seen them landing in the arms of new owners for five times that price.

Cut straps sign

One observation that I’ve collected from hunting vintage timepieces is that if you see a watch listed with an old and ‘tired’ strap that has been cut two centimeters above the lugs, you’ve most probably bumped into an honest piece. All the watches I bought this way came untouched, from private listers and for unbelievably cheap money. Dealers usually put the ugly things down. Somebody who is cleaning their cellar stock doesn’t give it a damn thought. Watches are mostly not in NOS condition, but they are honest, come unpolished with a beautiful dial under the scratched crystal and knife-sharp lugs under heavy grease and gunk. Try it.

Strapping it on

When the Timex Heinz Ketchup watch arrived, I started cleaning it, and after about five minutes, it looked as good as new. I didn’t have a black strap at the time, so I kept the Timex Heinz Ketchup sitting in the safe for a while. Later, I fitted it with a new strap, revealing its original glory. But what made the real difference was a recent big strap swap in my collection. Accidently, I was left with the last thick light brown strap I loved to look at but didn’t like to wear. It has previously been on my Omegas or the Angelus Chronodato. Yet it always felt too stiff and sturdy.

Just for the fun of it, I decided to test it on the Timex Heinz Ketchup and what a fit. I feel like I’ll never take it off now! The light brown tones with stitching that matches the dial make the Timex Heinz Ketchup even more vivid. My previous problem with sturdiness was eliminated, probably thanks to the smaller head that changed wrist comfort dramatically.

Under a particular angle and light conditions, the transparent second disc is nearly invisible.

Last thoughts

Not much to be said about the movement with zero jewels, that I didn’t even bother to service. The Timex Heinz Ketchup winds perfectly, runs immediately, and has a surprisingly strong power reserve. The time precision makes me smile even if I put strict benchmarks on it. So, look at it again and try to forget all the tank-like-built GMT Masters for a minute. You have to admit that such a tiny and subtle watch on 19mm lugs is refreshing and deserves to be taken seriously. At least for a few days of the year.