April 22, 2022
by Ariel Adams
Being a watch enthusiast can be a frustrating hobby for many people given how expensive most of these products are. Only a small percentage of the people who enjoy timepieces can liberally spend disposable income on the incredible $50,000+ or even $100,000+ horological items that tantalize most of us at least a few times per year. The “grail watch” is a motivating dream for many people, but at the same time, there need to be satisfying products that are more easily accessible. Thankfully, there are, and Timex is among those contemporary watchmakers who have enthusiasts in mind for a good chunk of its current products. That’s important to say amidst a sea of inexpensive watches out there that we hobbyists wouldn’t want to give any wrist time to. In this article, I just want to look at one men’s and one women’s Timex that are similar in theme, affordably priced, and the kinds of watches that will still get nods from those who take the extra time to notice what people are wearing on their wrists.
The two watches pictured in this article are men’s Timex M79 Automatic 40mm reference TW2U29500ZV, and the women’s Timex Q Malibu 36mm reference TW2V38500VQ. Both of these watches come in a few different styles in other colors or with slight variations. Since blue is still very popular right now, I thought it would be nice to choose pieces that featured this color (that I personally like to wear a lot). What is also interesting is that both of these modern watches are inspired by designs that Timex originally created in the late 1970s. These are “retro-modern” watches since they are meant to look like products that could have originally been sold a few decades ago. And they do that quite well. While these are both thoroughly contemporary watches in construction, they very much have a look and feel that could have been born the 1970s.
While these are from different collections within Timex, you can see that the Timex M79 and Timex Q Malibu have more or less the same dials. This is Timex’s take on the Rolex Submariner-style dial which has been part of the watch industry since the 1950s. It is probably the most popular analog watch dial ever produced, and it is a practical classic. Both of the watches have the time along with a day/date complication at the 3 o’clock hour marker. They do however feature entirely different movements with the M79 Automatic having a Japanese Miyota automatic mechanical movement, while the Q Malibu has a quartz battery-powered movement.
Through the rear of the M79 automatic, you can view the movement, a feature rarely found on watches of this type at this affordable price point. The Q Malibu has an easy-release plate over the battery compartment for easy changes that don’t require a trip to a service provider or special tools. Both of the watches have steel cases that are water-resistant to 50 meters — not quite suitable for swimming or water play as the dive-watch design might insinuate, but more than enough for washing hands and rainy days.
The watches also make use of retro-style acrylic crystals over the dials. These plastic crystals are effective and cheap, but they also are prone to scratching over time. They can actually be replaced quite cheaply, and the more scratch-resistant materials, such as sapphire crystal, tend to be too expensive to offer at these lower price points. These crystals also enhance the vintage theme of the watches allowing them to look like older watches from the 1970s era when acrylic crystals were much more common.
Both of the watches also feature rotating bezels produced with colorful anodized aluminum inserts. The M79 Automatic has a more traditional diver’s style timing bezel, while the Timex Q Malibu has a 12-hour bezel that can be turned in order to give the wearer a second time zone. The dials also have luminous painted hands and elegantly simple designs which are more than retro, but truly timeless by enthusiast standards. What should be stated is that even though these are less-expensive watches, they are designed with the same effort and rigor as most more expensive watches by Timex’s design team in Milan, Italy. The cost differences here come in the form of the less expensive movements and case materials. But the overall designs are just as nuanced as any $5,000 timepiece.
The Timex Q Malibu is among my favorite current women’s watch collections given the combination of the practical case and the fun bracelet. First, the bracelet has a super-fun two-tone design with alternative gold-tone and blue lacquered links. Timex has a number of Q Malibu models with various interesting color combinations that really look great when worn on the wrist. What’s also interesting about these bracelets is that they are “expand-o-flex” style, which means they are spring-loaded and expand over your wrist and spring back to a secure fit. These are rare today but were once very popular. They are actually very comfortable and practical. What’s even better is that Timex made sizing them very easy. Most legacy bracelets of this type were a nightmare to size properly. These watch bracelets are engineered with a handy tool-less link removal system so that anyone can size these bracelets in five minutes or less — it’s so awesome to have at this sub-$200 price point.
The Timex M79 Automatic also has a bracelet worth talking about. New for 2022, Timex has upgraded the M79 Automatic bracelets in a way I really appreciate with a useful fold-over deployant clasp. The original M79 Automatic watches used a too-retro non-deployant bracelet that I really wanted to be something that stayed in the past. This new bracelet combines the safety and comfort of a locking deployant claps with the thin style of a retro metal bracelet. So, kudos to Timex for recognizing this area of improvement and quickly engineering a viable solution.
As a set of his and hers watches, or enjoyed separately, I like to recommend these Timex watches to people who are getting into watches but not ready (or able) to make a leap into a high-end product. These are fun, practical, versatile, and affordable “real watches” that few people would dare to scoff at. Price for the Timex Q Malibu 36mm watches is $189 USD, and price for the Timex M79 Automatic is $289 USD. Learn more at the Timex website here.