Can a simple, sub-$200 quartz watch truly be elegant and refined? Though perhaps the budget "beater" realm for many collectors, they'll have to admit that the Timex Q 1978 Reissue Day-Date is downright beautiful — and packs the detail and interest to satisfy even their snobby horological tastes.
But you don't need to be a "timepiece aficionado" to appreciate this charming little Timex. For anyone wanting a step above the most basic dressy everyday watches, a classic look that can enjoyed on multiple levels, look no further.
At a Glance: the Timex Q 1978 Reissue Day-Date
Case Diameter: 37mm
Case Depth: 12mm
Water Resistance: 50m
What's Good About the Timex Q 1978 Reissue Day-Date?
It owns its quartz nature
The modern Timex Q series is a phenomenon in 20th century watches. "Q" being for quartz, this battery-powered technology threatened to replace traditional mechanical (spring-powered) clockwork beginning in the 1960s. With quartz being more accurate, reliable, robust, thin, light and far cheaper to mass produce, the watch industry repackaged mechanical watches as luxury items representing craftsmanship and tradition. That made quartz look like the opposite, and for a time quartz watches were disdained and dismissed by many watch enthusiasts.
That's changed in recent years. More watch brands have been making quartz watches specifically with enthusiasts in mind, and those enthusiasts have indeed appreciated them. Timex played a big part in that. When it released the Q series, it was considered a little brazen but fun to prominently advertise a watch's quartz nature with the series name and "QUARTZ" proudly emblazoned on the dial — whereas watches in previous years often seemed to bashfully gloss over the use of quartz. Timex's approach is refreshing.
Of course, using a quartz movement today doesn't itself make the watch special, but it was a different story when it was originally released...
It's a beautifully executed vintage design
As the name indicates, the Q 1978 Reissue Day-Date is based on a vintage watch from said year. Quartz watches at that time were seen as the future, they were still often relatively expensive and, thus, they were produced with care and pride. That's why you not only see quartz being emphasized in watches like the historical Q but a thoughtful and, dare I say, classy design in this remake.
A cushion case shape and raised "box-style" crystal feel rather '70s, but this is a dressy watch for modern tastes — a fully polished case, smallish 37mm diameter and simple, monochromatic dial make it so.
The dial, though, is where much of the charm comes from: it's deceptively simple, but polished elements like hands and applied indices contrast with the dial's vertically brushed finish. It feels like a level of taste and restraint that's usually reserved for watches at higher price points — the salient differences between this and Hamilton's excellent but $845 Intra-Matic might be a matter of movement and materials like sapphire crystal.
What's Not Ideal About the Timex Q 1978 Reissue Day-Date?
An easily-scratched crystal
Though I've managed to avoid scratches so far on the Q 1978 Reissue Day-Date, I have experience with Timex's acrylic crystals — and they're scratch magnets. Acrylic is a kind of plastic often used on vintage watches before the 1980s and on affordable watches today. Some collectors enjoy it, but I've even managed to scratch a Timex crystal seemingly just with the coarse fabric of a backpack's pocket. The attractive raised shape of the crystal only means that it's what'll take the hit every time your wrist bumps, bangs or brushes against something.
A scratched crystal can impede legibility, make a watch feel old and worn — and simply distract and dismay the wearer with every glance. The good news is vintage watch lovers have a dozen or so methods for restoring crystals with scuffs and dings. So, while a harder, higher-end material might be welcome, it can't really be expected at this price and the inevitable scratch isn't necessarily a deal-breaker. (Something similar could be said of other elements from from its leather strap to its 50mm water resistance: there are always higher-end options, but what Timex offers feels sufficient and appropriate for this price.)
Legibility could be better
You don't expect sport-watch legibility on a dressy watch like this, and although lume would be appreciated its absence is par for the course. But general legibility is important in any watch, and silver hands against a sliver dial can lack in contrast. The strips of black (where lume might be expected) do improve readability at a glance, but it can be a struggle in some lights. The crystal's distortion further complicates matters. Legibility on the Timex Q 1978 Reissue Day-Date is passable but it's worth noting that it's not especially strong.
The Verdict: the Timex Q 1978 Reissue Day-Date
The Timex Q 1978 Reissue Day-Date is a simple watch. In terms of construction quality and features, it doesn't feel much different from Timex watches closer to the $100 range. Its $179 price seems reflective of the time and consideration put into its design, development and execution — and those things certainly have value, as this attractive watch illustrates.
Who should get one? Though perhaps a fun, budget buy for watch collectors, Timex also serves a broader consumer base: e.g., those that just want decent watch and who might consider $200 or even $100 a lot to spend on something like a watch that's not even strictly necessary. They can easily get something for under a Benjamin, too, but those looking for a slightly more elevated experience (and who like this particular design) will be well served by this charming vintage reissue.
Another potential audience for the Timex Q Reissue 1978 Day-Date: the lover of sport watches who suddenly or occasionally "needs" a dress watch. In other words, if the looks and price of this watch are to your liking, there are more reasons to pull the trigger than to hesitate.