TIMEX first entered the French market in 1955 by collaborating with a local watch manufacturer from Besancon under the brand name KELTON. These were cheap but reliable watches obtainable through a for this period new distribution network (department stores, tobacconists and petrol stations).

In 1961 TIMEX took over this watch manufacturer and it's watch factory in Besancon and henceforth brought the TIMEX portfolio under the brand name KELTON. This lasted until the late 70's early 80's when the quartz revolution eventually stopped the production of KELTON (TIMEX) watches in France. Nowadays KELTON is a French brand once again (no connection to TIMEX).

The KELTON portfolio

Almost the total portfolio of TIMEX watches were issued under the brandname KELTON. So you can find the models Marlin, Sprite, Viscount, Mercury, Cavatina etc. The only series of watches that were not issued under the KELTON brand are the Electric / Electronic series and the Quartz watches. These were available in France but only TIMEX branded.

Same models and references, different marketing

The model names we know from the TIMEX catalogs aren't used by KELTON in communicating to the trade partners and the consumers. They chose to emphasize the gender (male/female), age (adult/juvenial) and technical use of the watches. Perhaps this was the European way, because we see TIMEX communicating this way in other countries in Europe as well. 

"When changing clothes, change your KELTON"

A great slogan that KELTON used throughout the seventies that implied that having one KELTON obviously wasn't enough. When dressing to the occasion, you simply needed a matching watch. So people were pursuaded to buy a collection of  KELTON watches. 

When looking at the models in the advertisements above, you can see that the more sporty KELTON models were both targeted at men and women, With case sizes of these models varying from 31mm until 36mm, size really didn't matter which explains this multi-gender approach by TIMEX (and KELTON). 

KELTON Sprite 1980's: white, black or with chrome accents?

In the 1980's KELTON used some magnificent cases to box their watches. They came in several colors like red, orange, green and yellow. Starting from 1981 TIMEX started using the wave symbol on their dials to indicate that watches were water resistant. Although it is thought TIMEX stopped manufacturing mechanical watches in 1983, they kept on selling them long after. 

From left to right you see the ref. 23142 (all black) from 1982, ref. 22951 (all white) from 1985 and ref. 22934 (chrome case and steel bezel) also from 1985. When comparing dials, the 1982 and 1985 black dials are exactly the same, black with silver outer ring. This confirms TIMEX was using existing parts to build new watches. The Model M101 was powering these watches.