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HomeAccessoriesThe best Timex watches

The best Timex watches

If you grew up in America, you probably wore a Timex wristwatch at some point or knew someone who did. We all know Timex. It’s that budget brand that sells watches at the Walmart jewelry counter. And indeed, budget is in the blood, as Timex, originally the Waterbury Clock Company, started by making watches cheaper than competing European brands while aiming to improve the quality. But just because its watches are cheap doesn’t mean they’re bad. Timex has kept its prices low to maintain competition, but also has some fine pieces that would look great on your wrist.

To that end, we’ve compiled a list of the best Timex watches that will ensure you arrive on time and in style. Take a look and see which one deserves a place on your wrist.

Giorgio Galli S1

If I were to describe the S1 in as few words as possible, it would be to call it a love letter to watches. After all, this piece is the unrestricted work of Giorgio Galli, senior designer at the labs in Milan. While not the most expensive watch in Timex’s selection (that honor goes to the American Documents collection), it still comes in at a relatively fair price of $450, and it’s well worth it.

Looking at Timex’s website shows an almost matte-looking face, but don’t be deceived, as it’s a sunburst dial that looks out at you. Reaching out are slim hands with lume applied to all, save the second hand. There are no numerals on the face, just simple markers. There’s not much for lettering either, just the brand’s name at the 12 o’clock position and the watch’s title in small font across the bottom edge. But at six o’clock is a curiosity — a synthetic ruby adorns the face. According to A Blog to Watch, this is due to a suggestion made to Galli to remind people of the mechanical nature of the piece, with a ruby bearing as decoration on an otherwise barren face.

A double-dome sapphire crystal protects the face, which is a welcome upgrade to the mineral crystal typical of Timex watches. The brushed stainless steel case sits at 38 millimeters across, and it’s a sight to behold. Using injection molding, the case features hollowed lugs, as well as various cuts and striations across the outer edge of the case back, the sides, and the crown. The result is striking. Really, the only downfall to the appearance is the strap, made of synthetic rubber. It also features a cut down the side and comes color-matched to the face (available in black or blue, or green from third parties). But really, a watch this beautiful deserves something a little nicer than what’s found on an Apple watch. Additionally, if you do like the style of the strap, but not the color, you can get additional options from Timex, but they cost $75, which seems rather high. Luckily, the lugs are 18 millimeters, so finding a replacement shouldn’t be too hard.

A glass case back shows off the movement, a Miyota 9039 with a custom S1 rotor. The 24 jewel mechanism features a 40-hour power reserve, as well as hacking, hand-winding, and Miyota’s Parashock shock resistance. Additionally, the movement has been polished up a bit to make the viewing experience a pleasure. And at a +10~-30 accuracy, it should hold time fairly well.

Unfortunately, some owners have noted some quality control issues upon receipt. These are mostly mechanical issues, regarding bent crown stems and inaccuracies in the movement beyond the rated tolerance. Some owners have also noted dust trapped between the glass and the face. Your watch will likely be perfect and ready for use, but a quick inspection once you get your hands on it would not go amiss.

Imperfections aside, if you’re looking for a beautiful watch and an example of the best of Timex’s offerings, then look no further. You won’t be disappointed.

Product Specs

Movement:

24 jewel automatic

Water resistance:

50 meters (~165 feet)

Size:

38 millimeters

Lug width:

18 millimeters

Why It Made The Cut

The Giorgio Galli S1 combines simple design with an excellent Miyota automatic movement, making it our choice for the best overall Timex watch.

PROS

  • Extremely wearable
  • Built-in shock resistance
  • Extremely scratch-resistant sapphire crystal

CONS

  • Reported quality control issues
  • Cheap-looking silicon strap

Navi Harbour XL

When it comes to wearability, nothing can compete with a diver. Dive watches are for all occasions. Originally for diving operations, they perform well in the field and look great with your dress uniform for the ball the next day (and the day after for a meeting with your commander, regarding what happened after the ball).

The Navi Harbour XL is no exception to this rule. A black face looks out, with slim hands, traditional markers, as well as 24-hour numerals reminiscent of a field watch. Admittedly, the face seems rather cluttered. Besides the aforementioned numerals, the brand’s name is positioned below the 12 o’clock position, and at six o’clock is the model name, Navi Harbour, and the “10 ATM” water resistance marker. Unfortunately, even though there’s already a decent amount of clutter, the day/date is missing. That said, considering the already busy dial, that might be for the best.

Looking away from the face shows the stainless steel case that’s 41 millimeters across, which is about par for most larger dive watches. At the three o’clock position sits a simple crown, unsigned. A black painted bezel with markings every 10 minutes, as well as a 15-minute section, completes the dive watch look. Flipping the watch over reveals a stainless steel case back with engraving describing the features of the watch as well as the Timex logo — not that you’ll be able to see much of it at first, as it’s covered by the included NATO strap, colored in a personally unappealing tan.

Unfortunately, the watch isn’t perfect. It’s not a “true” dive watch. By that, I mean that it lacks certain features that would ensure the watch’s longevity under diving conditions. These features mostly consist of a screw-down case back and crown, which prevents water entry at the two positions most likely to succumb to pressure. After passing ISO pressure testing, a watch is considered worthy to be marked “Diver’s 200” on the face. The Navi Harbour XL lacks these features. Meanwhile, the lume is rather dim and hard to see, and will become even more so over time because the watch’s glass is made of mineral crystal, which is rather notorious for scratching easily.

Now I can see you in the comments typing, “Why aren’t you recommending the Navi XL Automatic or the Waterbury Dive? Automatic movement supremacy reee!” And the reason that I’m recommending a quartz movement over an automatic is pretty simple. Few issues found in Timex quartz movement divers are fixed in their automatic counterparts. Additionally, most Timex automatic movements don’t feature hacking. While they’re not bad watches by any means, various other brands — Heimdallr, Orient, and Island Watch to name a few — have automatic watches at the same prices or lower that do feature screw-down crowns and case backs, sapphire glass, hacking, and better water resistance. Basically, the pieces Timex has to offer just don’t hack it on the current market in my opinion. But on the other end of the spectrum is a nicely designed piece with an accurate analog quartz movement that will serve you quite nicely at a reasonable price.

Product Specs

Movement:

Analog quartz

Water resistance:

100 meters (~330 feet)

Size:

41 millimeters

Lug width:

20 millimeters

Why It Made The Cut

The Navi Harbour XL maintains the style of the classic dive watch, while the quartz movement ensures reliability at a low price, making it the best pick for Timex dive watches.

PROS

  • Extremely wearable
  • Accurate movement
  • Decent water resistance

CONS

  • Not a “true” diver
  • Weak lume
  • Scratchable mineral crystal

Expedition North Field Post 36 Solar

Field watches hit their stride in the 1960s during Vietnam, when the Army released specification MIL-W-3818B, which specified the performance, design, and features of military watches. While this ultimately culminated in the Benrus DTU-2A/P, numerous other watchmakers took up the style, creating the classic design we know and love. The Timex Expedition Field Post 36 Solar is an excellent example of this design. Featuring a solar-powered quartz drive with a four-month power reserve, a little bit of time in the sun is all that’s needed to get the watch ticking — not that you’ll notice since this watch is quieter than its other quartz movement siblings. It’s not a perfect movement though. It seems a common experience with owners is the second hand being misaligned.

The watch sits in a compact case, measuring 36 millimeters across in diameter, 44 millimeters lug-to-lug, and 10 millimeters high. Actually, Timex markets the Field Post 36 Solar as 12 millimeters high, but a caliper measurement proves otherwise. I attribute this discrepancy as due to the NATO strap that the watch comes with. Regardless, the smaller dimensions mean that the watch is less likely to get snagged during day-to-day use. And if it does happen to get snagged, durability isn’t a concern. The case is made of brushed stainless steel and features a screw-down crown and case back. These features, combined with the sapphire crystal, give a hardy watch design that will perform nicely wherever your adventures take it.

Looking through the sapphire crystal (a nice upgrade to the mineral crystal used in many other Timex offerings) reveals a black face with large numerals and 24-hour markings. The markings on the edge of the dial and the hands are luminescent, but there’s no Indiglo here. Also across the face is the Timex logo, as well as the words “Solar Powered.” Really, the only thing missing is a day/date function, which seems a bit of a shame. Combined with the second hand alignment issue, the watch, though of decent make, seems lacking at the advertised price of $170. However, on the whole, the watch seems like a good deal. But if you’re not set on Timex but are set on a field watch, you might check our list of the best field watches.

Product Specs

Movement:

Analog quartz

Water resistance:

100 meters (~330 feet)

Size:

36 millimeters

Lug width:

18 millimeters

Why It Made The Cut

The Expedition North Field Post 36 Solar features the classic military aesthetic of a field watch with a durable solar movement, making it the top-ranking selection for Timex field watches.

PROS

  • Vintage military-inspired aesthetic
  • Solar drive with four-month power reserve
  • Extremely scratch-resistant sapphire crystal

CONS

  • Quartz may be seen as cheap
  • Second hand alignment issues
  • No day/date function

Marlin Hand-Wound 34mm

The Marlin was originally introduced in the 1960s, and subject to a great amount of marketing. Named for the fast-swimming fish and its waterproofness, the original Marlin was subject to televised stress tests with John Cameron Swayze, who was working as a Timex spokesman. Eventually, the line was discontinued, but not permanently. Thirty-five years after Timex quit making mechanical watches, the Marlin was reissued. It’s an exquisite-looking throwback piece and was considered to be a long-awaited return of a classic Timex watch.

The crystal of the watch is acrylic glass. This is likely in deference to the original which also used acrylic. It’s functional, but scratches easily. Peering through reveals a small 34-millimeter face, a dull silver starburst. The watch indices alternate between markers and numbers, both in black, and the numbers in the same font as the original. The only wording on the face is the brand name just below the 12. Simple black hands (there’s no lume here) and a black leather strap complete the vintage look.

The case is 10 millimeters high and made of polished stainless steel. Combined with the 34-millimeter face, this is a fairly small watch, but not to the point that it’s too small as it’s still very wearable. Flipping the watch over reveals a stainless steel case back with the name of the brand and style, as well as other various bits of technical data. It’s not a showpiece like the see-through case backs found on Timex’s automatic watches, which show off the mechanical bits that make the watch function.

Speaking of mechanics, let’s discuss those found on the Marlin. The Marlin is a mechanical watch, and uses gears and springs to function rather than a battery, and must be wound to function. The movement, which is allegedly a modified Seagull ST6, features 17 jewels and a power reserve of about 34 hours. So realistically, you will need to wind this daily to ensure it doesn’t die on you. It’s not a great movement, either. Several owners have mentioned quality control issues where the watch would be terribly inaccurate. While some deviation is to be expected, users were mentioning inaccuracies up to five to 10 minutes lost per day. While these inaccuracies seem to be rare, they should be watched out for if purchasing this watch.

Product Specs

Movement:

17 jewel mechanical

Water resistance:

30 meters (~100 feet)

Size:

34 millimeters

Lug width:

18 millimeters

Why It Made The Cut

The Timex Marlin is an example of a beautiful throwback design, and the simple classy look makes it the best Timex dress watch.

PROS

  • Polished case and domed crystal
  • 1960’s vintage aesthetic
  • Very wearable

CONS

  • Potentially inaccurate movement
  • Manual wind
  • Easily scratched acrylic crystal

Expedition Field Chronograph

For those who need to set timers and stick to them, a chronograph makes for an excellent option, especially if you can’t always have a phone or proper stopwatch handy. And of Timex’s options, the Expedition Field Chronograph is a great choice.

A brass case holds the watch’s battery-powered mechanism. One of the more notable comments regarding the case is that the black finish wears and scratches easily. If you’re into looking rugged, this may work in your favor. But this case isn’t the only scratchable surface, as the crystal is made of mineral glass. But scratchable isn’t the only word on my mind. The next is chunky. At 43 millimeters across and 12.5 millimeters high, it’s not a small watch. Maybe not quite Invicta size, but it’s not small by any means. Luckily, Timex has helped by rounding off the bezel, which makes it a little visually smaller.

But the size hasn’t stopped the face from feeling cluttered. Minute markers are placed at the indices, with the exception of the two, four, and 10 o’clock positions to make room for the day function and the chronograph dials. All the markers are made out in a light tan color, which contrasts nicely with the black background. The hands of the watch look quite nice, too. The hour and minute hands are black with white lume applied, as are the hands on the upper chronograph dials. The hands that track the seconds for both the watch and chronograph conversely are orange, which doesn’t stand out too much but looks quite nice. A tachymeter runs along the inside of the dial just inside the bezel, while the words Timex, Expedition, Indiglo, and WR100M are written across the dial, completing the cluttered look.

Presently, this watch is available on Amazon for just over $50, and it’s well worth your money. The tachymeter gives this watch a pilot aesthetic. You can change the hour without having to adjust the minute hand, which is handy if you travel often across time zones. The quartz movement means that accuracy should never be a problem. And, of course, with Indiglo able to light up the dial at the push of the crown, this watch is always able to perform under any lighting conditions. At the current price point, it’s a steal.

Product Specs

Movement:

Analog quartz

Water resistance:

100 meters (~330 feet)

Size:

43 millimeters

Lug width:

Why It Made The Cut

The best chronograph is the Timex Expedition Field Chronograph. It has a 30-minute timer that will operate under any condition, due to its 100-meter water resistance and Indiglo illumination.

PROS

  • Strong Indiglo illumination
  • Pilot watch aesthetic
  • Hourly time-hacking

CONS

  • Quartz may be seen as cheap
  • Cluttered dial
  • Easily scratched surfaces

Ironman Full-Size Endure 30 Shock

Purpose-built for triathlons, the Ironman Endure 30 Shock is a workhorse of a digital watch. It’s not a particularly handsome-looking watch (but personally, I don’t find draft horses graceful either, so I guess it fits). At over 14.5 millimeters tall and 42 millimeters across, it’s quite large. But it’s still wearable, as it sits close to the wrist, and the rounded bezel makes it appear smaller. Plus, you’ll be glad for the large face, as the digital numbers are easy to read, especially when running sprints and swimming laps.

The size isn’t for nothing either. Much of it is rubber padding that allows this watch to reach the shock resistance specifications placed by the International Standards for Standardization, meaning that it’s just as shock-proof as a G-Shock, and at a fraction of the price. The watch is also marked for 200 meters of water resistance, so you can be safe in the knowledge that this watch is near indestructible. The cost of this indestructibility is the look of the watch, which sadly, is rather lacking. It’s made of resin, and simple, ugly, and from experience, is rather uncomfortable. You won’t catch any comments for wearing this.

It doesn’t lack features, though. The Ironman has a 100-hour chronometer, a 30-lap timer, customizable alarms, and 24-hour timers. Basically every function you could need of a serious athlete’s watch, with the main button, the start/stop, dead center. And with the push of a button, you’ll be able to activate the Indiglo backlight, enabling you to see the results of your midnight training montages.

Product Specs

Movement:

Digital quartz

Water resistance:

200 meters (~660 feet)

Size:

42 millimeter

Why It Made The Cut

The Ironman Original 30 Shock is a bombproof sports watch that provides a cheap alternative to the G-Shock, making it our pick for the best digital Timex.

PROS

  • Excellent water and shock resistance
  • Strong Indiglo illumination
  • Wears nicely on most wrists
  • CONS
  • Mineral glass crystal
  • Uncomfortable strap
  • Rather ugly-looking

Things to consider before buying a Timex watch

The crystal

Watch crystals (the glass that covers the face) are divided into three different types.

There’s acrylic crystal, which is better known by its eponym Plexiglass, and is quite flexible, making it quite shatterproof. It is, however, the softest of the crystals, and as such is easily scratched. On the bright side, these scratches may be buffed out.

The next step up is mineral crystal, which is made of silica and is similar in properties to window glass. While more scratch-resistant than acrylics, these scratches cannot be buffed out.

Lastly is sapphire crystal. Made of corundum (the same material as sapphires, hence the name), these synthetic crystals are known for their extreme clarity and scratch resistance. However, they are not shatter-proof, and will not withstand extreme and sudden force.

Style vs environment

You should be asking yourself, “What am I going to be doing while wearing this watch?” If you’re spending the next few weeks in the field, maybe a field or sports watch would be the better choice. Or maybe if you’re working an office job, a dress watch or a diver might be a better pick. Basically, does the watch fit your personal style and environment? If not, maybe reconsider your selection. Of course, sometimes a slight modification might be all you need to make a watch fit the occasion.

Price

With the exception of digital watches, most pieces are going to be pushing past the $100 mark for a simple quartz-analogue movement. This is typical across the industry. And naturally, the better the product specs and with the addition of features and complications, you’ll see the price increase. That said, with the exception of the American Documents and GG S1 collections, most Timex watches will top out at about $300. At the top end, you’ll need to consider whether the price you’re paying might not be better spent with a different company with better features. Timex is a budget brand, and in my opinion, it excels at the mid-range, while its top end (with some exception) is found wanting.

FAQs about Timex watches

Q: Is Timex a good quality watch?

A: It depends. Timex is a budget brand at heart, and you get what you pay for, with some quality control issues being noted by owners. While Timex does work to fix these issues and improve user experience, in some instances it would make sense to save your money for a more pricey brand.

Q: Where are Timex watches made?

A: Timex watches are designed in Milan, Italy. Manufacturing is mostly done in Asia, with the exception of the American Documents collection. The American Documents collection is assembled in Waterbury, Connecticut using American-sourced parts, minus the Swiss-quartz movement.

Q: What brands does Timex own?

A: Timex’s parent company, Timex Group B.V., makes watches for several other companies including Versace, Salvatore Ferrogamo, Nautica, and several others.

Q: How long do Timex watches last?

A: Timex watches, with proper care, tend to last five to 10 years. However, maintenance such as battery swaps for the quartz movement watches and tune-ups for the mechanicals will increase the lifespan of these timepieces.

Final thoughts

Timex produces some excellent pieces that are great for the price. If you’re looking for a watch that looks sharp on your wrist, and don’t mind a quartz movement, then watches like the Navi Harbour XL and both Expedition options will serve you well. If you’re strictly utilitarian (and maybe have a habit of destroying watches in the field), then consider the Ironman for your next timepiece. And if you care about looking sharp, then look no further than the S1 and the Marlin. They’re as classy as it gets.

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