As a brand, Timex primarily produces accessibly priced watches that are intended for regular people who simply need a practical and good-looking timepiece. However, sometimes Timex releases models that seem to be specifically intended for an enthusiast-driven demographic, and these watches often make their appearances right at the peak of a specific industry trend. Announced earlier this year in 2022, the new Timex Expedition North Titanium Automatic is exactly that type of watch. In much the same way that the Timex Q reissue made its debut at the height of Pepsi bezel mania, this new adventure-ready addition to the Expedition lineup arrives as titanium is having a serious moment within the industry, and it comes packing a list of specs that will satisfy just about any watch enthusiast who gets caught up on details, such as the material or crystals, and whether or not a watch has a screw-down crown. On paper, the new Timex Expedition North Titanium Automatic promises to be one of the most well-rounded and capable go-anywhere, do-anything field watches currently available, but the real question is whether or not it is as good in the metal as it appears to be based on its spec sheet.
Before we dive into all of the details, it’s worth running down a quick shortlist of what exactly the new Timex Expedition North Titanium Automatic brings to the table, because it is almost as if a severe watch nerd listed specs for the ideal field watch, and then Timex went ahead and produced almost that exact model. What you get is an automatic movement inside a shock-resistant titanium case that features a sapphire crystal, a screw-down crown, 200 meters of water resistance, and a threaded display caseback. Aside from a few minor concessions to enhance mass-market appeal, such as a case diameter of more than 40mm and the inclusion of a date display, the new Timex Expedition North Titanium Automatic feels very much in line with what a card-carrying enthusiast would want from a rugged everyday field watch. That said, no timepiece is perfect, and when you see these many desirable specs at a price point of only a few hundred dollars, you can almost guarantee that there will need to be a few concessions made, although this doesn’t necessarily mean that the watch will be any less capable because of them.
The case of the Timex Expedition North Titanium Automatic is crafted entirely out of bead-blasted titanium, and while its on-paper specs list it as 41mm in diameter with a height of 12.5mm, you are realistically looking at closer to 13.5mm in total thickness once you factor in the two flat sapphire crystals fitted to both the top and bottom sides of the case. The curved lugs are set 20mm apart and they extend to give the case an overall lug-to-lug profile of approximately 50mm, although the somewhat thick sloped bezel gives the watch a slightly smaller overall appearance compared to something like a traditional dress watch with similar on-paper dimensions. Part of how Timex is able to offer a titanium watch at this price point is that the case itself uses a simplified structure, where the bezel and middle case are constructed from a single piece of metal. Fewer components mean lower production costs, although it does result in a slightly less refined appearance, and it also does not allow the bezel and case to be refinished independent of each other. That said, refinement is secondary to functionality when it comes to field watches, and I also can’t imagine that anyone is refinishing their Timex field watch either, so this simplified design ultimately just means a lower purchase price for the customer.
The right-hand side of the case extends to form crown guards that protect a fairly large screw-down winding crown. The tip of the crown is set with a black and green plastic emblem that depicts the Expedition North collection’s stylized mountain-shaped logo. Given that this emblem does not glow in the dark and is the only bright green element on an otherwise entirely black, white, and gray watch, I would have personally preferred to just see a regular signed crown fitted here instead, although this is hardly an aesthetic deal-breaker, at least as far as I’m concerned. The screw-down design of the crown works together with the watch’s screw-down caseback to help create its rather generous 200-meter depth rating, and surrounding the caseback’s display window are all of the expected engravings, followed by a small circular groove and fluting pattern, which helps promote airflow and decrease the total amount of case material that comes into contact with the wrist.
Printed on the underside surface of the caseback’s display window is a large “Timex Expedition North” logo in black letters with the obligatory mountain insignia. Given that this really only detracts from the one single purpose of the display window, I personally think that this detail could have been omitted, although it’s worth noting that this is the only place where the words, “Expedition North” appear on the watch at all, while the words, “Shock Resistant” are on both the dial and caseback. Other than alluding to the fact that it has to do with the watch’s case design, Timex really doesn’t offer too much information about what has been done to make the Expedition North Titanium Automatic more resilient to shocks compared to other Timex models that are powered by a movement with the same type of built-in shock absorbers. That said, a quick look through the display caseback of the watch reveals what is very likely the brand’s solution to providing the movement with additional impact resistance.
The mechanical movement appears to be mounted into the case using two different plastic components — a white-colored one that is mounted inside a black one that sits between the white piece of plastic and the interior surface of the titanium case. Plastic movement spacers are ubiquitous in affordable watches, but the use of two separate components in this type of orientation implies that this was likely an intentional design decision, as this could easily be engineered to create somewhat of a suspension system inside the case to protect the movement from external impacts. If this were a watch produced by a major Swiss luxury brand, we would likely have an entire page of the press release dedicated to explaining its shock protection system; however, since this is Timex producing an affordable watch for the general public, technical details are kept to the bare essentials. That said, given the significant emphasis that this model places on its shock-resistant capabilities, there is a fairly good chance that this movement mounting system is what provides the Timex Expedition North Titanium Automatic with its additional impact resistance.
While this approach may offer added protection against shocks, it also creates a rather large open space inside the case, and this ultimately detracts from the overall perceived quality of the watch. Despite its chunky design, the Timex Expedition North Titanium Automatic is quite lightweight for an automatic timepiece, and even with the included strap attached to it, the entire watch weighs just 63 grams. Additionally, the open space within the case almost acts as a resonator, meaning that the motion of the rotor is far louder than many other watches that use this exact same movement. A lightweight watch with a noisy rotor doesn’t exactly provide the impression of a high-quality object, yet it ultimately is a very functional one, and these perceived shortcomings in quality are largely only because our lizard brains associate heavy and solid objects with inherent quality.
As for the dial, its overall layout follows a rather straightforward field watch design, with a textured black surface, bold Arabic numeral hour markers, and a rectangular date window at 3 o’clock. The dial features an embossed design, so the hour markers, logos, and the five-minute lines within the minute track all appear slightly raised from the granular surface of the dial. The Expedition North logo takes the place of the 12 o’clock marker, while the words “Shock Resistant” appear directly below the 6 o’clock location. The trio of centrally mounted hands features black-finished centers to give them a floating effect, with the hour and minute hands appearing as tapered batons, while the accompanying seconds hand is a simple, thin stick shape. The center sections of the hour and minute hands, along with each one of the hour markers and the five-minute lines within the minute track, all receive an application of green-glowing luminous material, and while the hands glow more brightly than the dial, both offer far better lume then what I typically associate with Timex’s watches.
Although Timex does not specify which movement is actually inside the Expedition North Titanium Automatic, (other than simply listing it as a “21-jewel automatic movement”), I’m relatively certain that it’s the ubiquitous Miyota Caliber 8215. A quick look at its design will confirm that it is undeniably from Miyota’s popular Cal. 8xxx series, and considering the layout of its hands, the presence of a date display, and the lack of the more elaborate finishing that is characteristic of the similar Cal. 8315, that pretty much leaves just the Miyota Cal. 8215 as the movement powering the Timex Expedition North Titanium Automatic. Consequently, just like all Miyota 8215 movements, the one fitted to the Expedition North runs at a frequency of 21,600vph (3 Hz), while offering users a power reserve of approximately 42 hours. In addition to offering reliable and proven performance, the replacement cost of this movement is low enough that swapping it for a new one is a viable alternative whenever it needs repairs or maintenance, versus actually having a watchmaker take it apart and service it.
The strap fitted to the Timex Expedition North Titanium Automatic is a two-piece leather strap with quick-release spring bars at the lugs and a signed titanium pin buckle used to attach the two ends together. The strap itself tapers from 20mm at the lugs to 18mm at the buckle, and it is made from Timex’s Ecco DriTan leather, which is produced using a water-saving, environmentally friendly process. The strap itself is soft and flexible right out of the box, and it’s also certainly nice to see that it is fitted with a proper matching titanium pin buckle. However, the choice to pair a leather strap with an outdoor watch that has 200 meters of water resistance seems like a slight misstep given that leather is one of the materials that is arguably least suited to regular aquatic use. Given the countless nylon/fabric straps being made from recycled ocean plastic, something along those lines might have been a more appropriate choice here for an eco-friendly strap option, although with standard 20mm lugs, there is a near-endless number of compatible third-party alternatives.
For the spec-obsessed watch nerd, the Timex Expedition North Titanium Automatic is easily one of the brand’s most appealing offerings, and when you look at what it actually brings to the table, the draw is immediately apparent. With an official retail price of $349 USD, this premium rendition of Timex’s classic field watch is a bit more expensive than the brand’s popular entry-level options, yet it still remains firmly within the affordable end of the price spectrum. Titanium field watches with automatic movements that are produced by Swiss companies like Hamilton or Formex will offer a noticeably higher level of quality and refinement, although they will also set you back closer to $1k, and they really aren’t direct competitors for this budget-friendly model. That said, comparable offerings from both RZE and Boldr can be found at an even slightly lower price, although like most watches from Timex, you will likely be able to take advantage of a coupon code or seasonal sale at some point during the year and pick one up at some type of discount. Although Timex is the number one best-selling watch brand in the United States and typically produces timepieces that are destined for malls and department stores all around the globe, watches like the Expedition North Titanium Automatic are proof that the brand still very much has its finger on the pulse of the industry and knows exactly how to cater to an enthusiast crowd. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.