Timex has never pretended to be a luxury watchmaker. Since its inception as a brand in the 1950s (Timex can trace its roots back to 1854 as the Waterbury Clock Company), the aim and drive of the institution has been to produce stylish, affordable timepieces that don’t break. They managed this through important innovations in the manufacturing process. This brought early commercial success in the 50s and 60s, when the brand became synonymous with its televised “torture tests” and one of the most widely recognizable slogans in advertising, “Takes a Licking and Keeps on Ticking.”
Few of its mechanical models can claim to have been more successful than the Marlin. The dress watch, first launched in the 60s, is most likely the platonic ideal a baby boomer imagines when you mention the word “watch,” even today. This latest iteration of the famed reference–the Marlin Automatic Sub-Dial–is both an interesting evolution and a notable departure, in many ways.
Perhaps we should begin with its name: the sub-dial. Other than a date function, no other Marlin has ever offered much in the way of complications. For the first time–albeit a simple one–this watch does just that. The 24-hour register is not the same thing as a GMT, and to some respect, it is a largely extraneous function. But it looks good. And I say that without any sense of irony. The addition of the sub-dial, in a purely aesthetic sense, really does alter your perception of the watch–changing it from strictly dressy to slightly sporty. Of course, the full Arabic numeral index contributes to this, as well, but the sub-dial itself is the true point of interest.
Beyond the dial–which is available in silver (as featured here), or black–the case is also a deviation from past references. Moving away from the traditionally circular construction, the Marlin Automatic Sub-Dial comes in a 39mm tonneau-shaped case, fashioned from 316L stainless steel. The design is clean and aerodynamic with polished bevels along the outer edge which add depth and appeal to the predominantly brushed surfaces. The overall impression is one of modish 60s charm–one that is reinforced stylistically in the numeral font. The watch is rated to 50m of water resistance.
The choice of an acrylic dome is perfect here. There is warmth to it–as well as a practicality–that would not be the same in mineral glass. It manages to catch light in just the right way and plays out nicely on the subtly brushed silver dial.
The case back is attached by four screws and sports the engraving of…you guessed it, a marlin. The image has been offset to allow for the inclusion of a display window, where you can see a portion of the balance wheel through the glass. The Marlin Automatic employs the a Miyota 8217. It’s a solid workhorse movement, operating at 21 600bph. It also offers a 40-hour power reserve.
There are three leather strap options for the Marlin. Each is equipped with stainless steel hardware and a signed buckle. They also employ quick-release spring bars for easy strap changes.
|Case||316L Stainless Steel or Titanium|
20mm Lug Width
Screwed Case Back
50m Water Resistance
|Dial & Crystal||Domed Acrylic Crystal|
Printed Arabic Numerals
Date @ 3
Sud-Dial @ 9
40-Hour Power Reserve
/w Stainless Steel Hardware
Timex Marlin Automatic Sub-Dial
As mentioned earlier, the Timex Marlin line was born in the early 1960s, and, during its initial run was a huge hit for the brand. Timex could not keep up with demand initially, and the watch sold out. After the arrival of quartz technology, however, the brand found it difficult to compete. By 1982, the company would cease production of mechanical watches entirely, focusing on more affordable, digital models like the Ironman. The decision to reissue the model in 2017 marked the first production of a Timex mechanical watch in more than 35 years. And true to its heritage, the watch sold out in the United States.
At this price point, it is difficult to find fault with the Marlin. The leather band is stiff, and will take some breaking in; however, with a 20mm lug width, aftermarket options abound. There are no deal breakers here.
The Timex Marlin Automatic shares a lot of DNA with the Farer Lethbridge. These are not identical watches by any means. But as streamlined, cushioned-cased timepieces with silver dials and a single sub-register that skirt the line between dress and sports watches, the comparison is fair. However, despite these similarities, there is a gulf between them when it comes to pricing. Yes, the Farer is Swiss made with a Swiss movement. Yes, its indices are applied, blah, blah. As I said, they are not the identical. But not everyone cares enough about these differences to pay for them. This brings us back to the beginning. A lot of brands make affordable watches. The thing is, not all of them are good. Timex has carved out that rare space where the enthusiast sphere meets the regular watch-buying public, and manages to appeal equally to both. The Marlin Automatic Sub-dial is a sharp-looking, retro-styled timepiece from a heritage brand that will not break the bank. To borrow from John Cameron Swayze, “Isn’t it time for a Timex in your life?”
The Marlin Automatic Sub-Dial is priced at an attractive $269USD. Please visit the brand website for more details.
About the author
Brent Robillard is a writer, educator, craftsman, and watch enthusiast. He is the author of four novels. You can follow him on Instagram.
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5 thoughts on “Off the Cuff: Timex Marlin Automatic Sub-Dial”
That’s a great brand story….even has a heritage vibe in the telling. Well done.
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Another killer release from Timex. Extra classy with this Marlin!
Itching to pick one up ever since I saw it but the Q Chrono still has a strong hold on my heart!
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Yep, a clean looking Timex will always win. I like this way better than some of the other models with subdials, they look a little weird sometimes the way they’re laid out. Wonderful article man
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