Brilliant Timex billboard ad takes aim at the Apple Watch

Smartwatches have come on leaps and bounds in the last decade, with the Apple Watch now allegedly outselling the entire Swiss watch industry. But with great power comes a great volume of notifications – as this brilliant new Timex ad is keen to point.

The watch brand has just unveiled its new collaboration with US clothing company Adsum, and it's a delightfully minimal timepiece. And it seems Timex and Adsum are keen to emphasise 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 reading 'Know the time without seeing that you have 1,249 unanswered emails'

(Image credit: Timex)

"For Adsum’s first collaboration with Timex®," the clothing brand announced, "we chose the MK1, a watch originally produced for a short period of time for the US Marines; the MK1 has endured beyond its original purpose because of its utilitarian simplicity. If you take a close look, you’ll notice a few tweaks to the uncomplicated watch face that make it our own." And on the back is engraved the text, "I AM PRESENT" – as a nice, er, 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 costs $140, and features quartz movement and luminant hands within a 36mm stainless-steel case. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, it's currently showing as sold out on the Adsum website.

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A billboard ad promoting the watch is currently doing the rounds online, with many loving the anti-smartwatch ethos. "Know the time without seeing you have 1,249 unanswered emails," reads the tagline. "Very, very clever line by Adsum –  in the world of digital watches, this dig is noteworthy," one user tweets, while another adds, "brilliant line on this ad." 

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

But the smartwatch brigade isn't so convinced by the message. "This just reminded me how useful my smartwatch is," one user tweets. Many, meanwhile, simply can't get past the concept of that many unread emails: "Or, just manage your emails better."

While perhaps not as clever as some of the best billboards of all time, this is certainly a pleasing (and, dare we say, smart) design, with its wry tagline bound to make timepiece traditionalists smile. If that doesn't include you, take a look at today's best Apple Watch Series 7 deals below.

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Daniel John
Senior News Editor

Daniel John is Senior News Editor at Creative Bloq. He reports on the worlds of art, design, branding and lifestyle tech (which often translates to tech made by Apple). He joined in 2020 after working in copywriting and digital marketing with brands including ITV, NBC, Channel 4 and more.