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Most people recognize Timex for its broad range of affordable, attractive quartz watches. But the American company has been in the horology game since 1854, when quartz was little more than a pretty rock and master craftsmen built precise, intricate mechanical watch movements by hand.
After a long hiatus, Timex re-entered the mechanical watch game in 2017 with the 34mm Marlin, a faithful throwback to its popular 1960s dress watch, but with a hand-wound Chinese movement. It sold like hotcakes, but the size wasn’t for everyone.
This fall, Timex introduced the $249 Marlin Automatic, a larger piece with a more modern aesthetic and powered by a Japanese self-winding movement. At 40mm, the new Marlin’s case falls smack-dab in the sweet spot for dress watches. The entire case is polished stainless steel, with short, thin lugs measuring 20mm wide, which curve down to allow the watch to sit well on any wrist. Anchored to those lugs is a soft leather band made by the S.B. Foot Tanning Company, the main supplier of hides for Red Wing shoes, among others.
Sitting atop the case is a well-integrated domed acrylic crystal that gives the watch a bubbled, retro profile. Acrylic is nice because it’s easy to remove scratches (and it will scratch.) In all, the Marlin automatic is a just-right 13mm tall. With a 30-meter water-resistance rating, you’re safe washing your hands while wearing the Marlin, but don’t take it swimming.
The back of the Marlin is see-through, which allows you to marvel at the Timex-branded movement. In reality, it’s a 21-jewel Miyota 8215, well-known and well-proven within the watch world as a basic, no-frills, durable timekeeper. Something to note is that the rotor—the bit that self-winds and keeps things ticking—can be noisy as it spins away in there. Some people like hearing it though, as it reminds you that the movement of your wrist is powering the watch strapped to it.
With the stainless steel case, three dial colors are offered: black, silver, burgundy, and all feature silver indices and thin “pencil” hands with just the slightest bit of lume to them. A gold-tone case is also available, with a black dial and gold hands and indices. The dials show the simple TIMEX branding below the 12-o’clock marker and “Automatic” above the 6 marker. There is no “no-date” option, so all dials feature a date window that displays a white date wheel. A date complication is handy, but on a dress watch, I’d prefer a clean dial. And if a date is standard, I like mine to have a date wheel that matches the color of the dial. That’s not an option with the 8215, however, and it’s a minor gripe, but the tiny block of white interferes with an otherwise clean look. I’d also prefer a longer hand set. The proportions of the hour, minute, and seconds hand to the placement of the indices and overall size of the dial are slightly off. We’re talking a couple millimeters here, but that may matter to discerning eyes.
Minor protests aside, the Marlin automatic is a welcome addition to the Timex lineup. The company’s mainstay of outdoor- and athletic-themed watches are terrific, but this return to handsome, affordable mechanical watches serves as a shot across the bow of other entry-level dress watches from the likes of Orient and Seiko that Timex back in the game, and it’s got the horological chops to compete.