The Timex Marlin represents the confluence of several trends in the watch industry: a younger generation adopting mechanical timepieces, watch companies finally embracing the idea of crafting smaller-cased watches and the industry continuing the trend of producing vintage-inspired wares. First came the Marlin on a black leather strap, which worked beautifully as an inexpensive dress watch; then came the same watch but with a black dial produced in collaboration with Todd Snyder, which was even better suited to a formal setting. Now, Timex’s next collaboration with the venerable menswear brand has yielded a Marlin on a steel mesh bracelet — a decidedly more “everyday” take on the now-classic vintage reissue.
The Good: An inexpensive, hand-wound, attractive watch with a smaller case and a comfortable metal bracelet? For $209? Really? There’s not a lot to complain about at this price (there are actually a few things to complain about, but I’ll do that later).
Who They’re For: There are a few subsets of potential customers for the Marlin Mesh, the first of which is the budding mechanical watch enthusiast who’s looking for his first watch and doesn’t want to spend a fortune. Another is someone who’s already a watch nerd and just wants something fun and simple to throw on once in a while without having to put much thought into it (the watch seems to mesh well with most outfits, which is a “mesh” joke). Another potential customer is someone who’s looking for a gift for a someone, and that someone, given the aesthetics and dimensions of the Marlin, could certainly be male or female.
Watch Out For: Of course, when you’re talking about a $209 mechanical watch, it should be clear that what you’re likely not getting is a top-grade movement (of course there are exceptions to this rule, but they mostly seem to occur in Japanese watches, such as the Seiko SKX007). Winding and setting the Marlin Mesh (or any Marlin, for that matter) is not a “Rolex-smooth” operation — you can feel the resistance as you wind the crown or set the time, as if there were gunk in the movement.
I noticed that the power reserve on the Marlin is quite short — it stopped running after about half a day — though I have been experiencing this phenomenon with several of my vintage watches even after numerous rounds of servicing. Given that I write about watches for a living and am fairly confident in my ability to properly wind and use mechanical watches, this leads me to believe that either A. the Marlin, for whatever reason, has a very short power reserve or B. I was, at some point in time, cursed by a witch, but it was a very specific curse whose sole effect was to adversely affect the mainspring of any mechanical watch that I wear.
Alternatives: If you’re looking for an inexpensive mechanical dress watch, there’s the Orient Sentinel for similar money, which is available on a steel bracelet (though it features a modern case size and an automatic movement). Then there’s the Citizen NH8350, which features a mechanical movement and also comes on steel. The closest analog to the Marlin Mesh may be the Swatch Sistem Meche — though it features a decidedly larger case size and date function with an automatic movement — as its bracelet is also a steel mesh, rather than a model that utilizes links. The price is also directly comparable to that of the Marlin Mesh ($215).
Review: The Marlin Mesh features essentially the same watch head as the original Timex Marlin reissue released last year, which is a 34mm stainless steel case housing a mechanical movement, silver sunray dial with applied steel markers and steel hands (though the original Marlin featured black indices and hands), drilled lugs, non-screw-down crown and snap-back case. The mesh bracelet is the differentiating factor, and it’s certainly a comfortable and simple accessory: you merely set the clamp-down clasp on the lower half of the bracelet where you so desire, and to close the band, you snap in the upper half into this clasp. This means that you have a double-length of bracelet over part of your wrist, but the band is sufficiently thin that you don’t notice this, and sufficiently comfortable that you barely feel like you’re wearing a bracelet.
Regarding the watch itself: this is a dial that’s hard not to like (as far as I’m concerned). While the mid-century Arabic numeral font isn’t my absolute favorite, it directly echoes (or rather, copies) the original Marlin of the 1960s, and it seems hip/funky enough to have a certain timelessness. A brushed sunray dial is always cool (though the steel indices and hands are admittedly a tad difficult to see against it — the original Marlin reissue’s black hands and indices provided more contrast against the dial) and the case proportions make for a svelte and highly wearable watch (I imagine there are some gripes out there from folks who would’ve preferred a 36 or 38mm case, but I applaud Timex for not giving a shit and just going with a 34mm case with an 18mm lug width). The truth is that having a little space between your watch case and the edge of your wrist just frames the watch better against your body (or so I believe), and it’s a pleasure to finally see the trend of gargantuan modern watch sizes subsiding.
As far as I can tell, the original Marlin models of the 1960s used steel case backs but plated bezels, so it’s nice to have a modern version with classic proportions but in an entirely polished steel case (you wouldn’t expect any differently of a modern watch, but the “upgrade” is nevertheless worth noting). You’re also getting an acrylic crystal for that vintage touch, and though the case is a snap-back rather than a screw-back, you still have 30m of water resistance to protect against the occasional, accidental splash (worth noting is that the dial of the modern Marlin does not feature the word “Waterproof” as on the vintage models due to modern laws that dictate what constitutes a “waterproof” watch).
There has been much speculation about exactly the movements are in the modern Marlins — the best guess given the price and the fact that the movement is inscribed “TIMEX TWENTY JEWELS CHINA” seems to be that they are inexpensive, hacking Seagull movements — but again: for $209, it’s difficult to expect too much in terms of build quality here. The movement, whatever it is, works just fine, the question of the power reserve aside.
Verdict: The Marlin Mesh is a “fun” watch, no doubt about it — it’s not going to win any design contests for originality, and it’s not going to win any horological awards for watchmaking prowess, but it’s something you can buy without thinking too hard about the purchase, and something you can throw on with just about any casual outfit without thinking about it at all. The Mesh is comfortable, simple to operate, and recalls a bygone era of mechanical watchmaking. It makes a nice gift for a budding watch enthusiast and it looks good on men and women.
Are there better values for watches in this price range from Japanese manufacturers? There may be. But aesthetically, if what you want is something directly vintage-inspired and simple on a mesh bracelet (which, it’s worth noting, you could conceivably swap for something else as the occasion calls for it), then the Marlin Mesh is likely the watch for you.
What Others Are Saying:
• “On the wrist, I found the Marlin to be incredibly comfortable. Elegant yet understated, the 34mm steel case looks great on any size wrist and wears well. It has the vintage feel that many of us crave, but without the usually steep price tag.” — Cara Barrett, HODINKEE
• “Overall I think the Timex Marlin reissue will continue to be a popular model for the brand moving forward. It’s a basic, time-only dress watch with real vintage appeal and a design that nails the look of Timex’s golden years” — Michael Penate, A Blog To Watch
• “One final reason I love this watch: it’s fun to wear! At 34 mm in diameter it’s not super-imposing on the wrist, but the straight lugs, visual contrasts, and open look of the dial make it wear bigger than its actual dimensions. And for me, of course, there’s the added benefit of having a true “time machine” on my wrist that whisks me back to the days of my youth every time I take a peek at it.” — Gary G, Quill & Pad
Case Diameter: 34mm
Case Depth: 10mm
CLug Width: 18mm
Water Resistance: 30m
Bracelet: Steel Mesh
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