April 9, 2023
As the number-one selling watch brand in the United States, Timex produces an incredibly wide assortment of new designs each year. While some of the brand’s watches are intended to have mass-market appeal and will be sold at mall kiosks and department stores around the world, others are aimed squarely at an enthusiast demographic. One of the most promising enthusiast-focused releases from the brand for 2023 has been the Timex Marlin Automatic Sub-Dial watch. While the classic Marlin that originally debuted in 2017 is a 1960s-inspired dress watch, this year’s new subdial model takes the collection in an entirely new and more casual direction by combining a larger cushion-shaped case with a four-handed automatic movement and subtle colorful 1960s British Mod-inspired design details.
Now, when I say that the new Timex Marlin Automatic Sub-Dial watch embraces “British Mod-inspired” design elements, I mean the UK-based subculture movement from the 1960s, rather than the British Ministry of Defense (that would be the British MOD). This means we’re talking about tailor-made suits, jazz music, and flamboyant motor scooters, rather than combat fatigues, heavy artillery, and standard-issue, mil-spec designs. In that same spirit, the Timex Marlin Automatic Sub-Dial (ref. TW2V62000ZV) offers an inherently more casual appearance compared to the various dress models within the Marlin series, yet its refined design and subtle pops of blue and red help make it significantly more elevated than something like a no-frills, military-inspired field watch. Aside from the various “Peanuts” comic character-themed models, the Timex Marlin Automatic Sub-Dial is the most casual execution of the Marlin series thus far, yet at the same time, it is also definitely not a sport or tool watch, but rather a good-looking and relaxed timepiece intended for casual everyday wear.
When this new model was originally announced earlier this year, details were rather minimal. After getting the Timex Marlin Automatic Sub-Dial in hand for review, there are a couple important differences from what was stated in the initial press release for the watch. The cushion-shaped case is crafted from stainless steel with contrasting brushed and polished surfaces and it has a horizontal diameter of 39mm-wide, with 20mm lugs and an overall lug-to-lug profile that measures approximately 45.3mm. The case finishing is better than what you typically associate with Timex, which is one of the inherent benefits of working in stainless steel, rather than plated brass like most budget-friendly models that the brand produces. The top and sides of the case are vertically brushed, while each side receives a large high-polished bevel that runs all the way from the tip of one lug to the other. A signed push-pull style winding crown sits at 3 o’clock and offers access to the movement. Water resistance for the Marlin Automatic Sub-Dial series comes in at 50 meters, which Timex states is suitable for washing hands, light swimming, snorkeling, and poolside diving. While I would personally reach for a different watch when it comes to any regular aquatic use, it’s still nice to know that Timex feels thoroughly confident in its ability to properly seal a watch against moisture intrusion.
Now, here’s where things start to slightly differ from what was stated in the original pre-production press release. The heavily domed crystal is made from acrylic rather than mineral glass, and this detail also now also appears correct on Timex’s official website. Given the vintage vibes of the Marlin Automatic Sub-Dial and the domed shape of the crystal itself, I personally prefer that the crystal is made from acrylic rather than mineral glass, not only due to its warmer appearance but also because any light scuffs can easily be polished and removed (although sapphire would still be my first pick). However, while Timex lists the official case thickness for the Marlin Automatic Sub-Dial watch as 9mm, the brand must only be talking about the middle case itself, and not including either the heavily domed crystal or the screw-on display caseback. Measured with a set of digital calipers, the total thickness of the Timex Marlin Automatic Sub-Dial (from the center of the crystal to the center of the caseback) comes in at approximately 14.2mm, and this is much more in line with the relatively chunky presence that the watch offers when strapped to the wrist.
The reverse side of the Timex Marlin Automatic Sub-Dial is completed by a stainless steel caseback, which is secured by four small screws and features an engraving of a marlin fish, along with a small circular display window. Located partially above the balance, the small aperture does showcase some of the more visually interesting components of the movement. However, it also features a red vertical stripe on its underside surface, which further obscures what is already a rather limited field of view. I imagine that the red line was intended to be something like a racing stripe or a nod to the red lines of the Union Jack (or whatever), but it ultimately reminds me far more of the clear protective stickers that are frequently found on the crystals and casebacks of watches, which also feature a single thin red stripe running through them. In my opinion, caseback display windows are generally best when unadorned, and in this particular instance, I would have also been equally content with a simple, solid caseback without any display window at all.
At the time of writing, Timex offers the Marlin Automatic Sub-Dial in three different colorways, although the reference TW2V62000ZV is the version featured here, which offers a silver dial, a brown leather strap, and subtle red and blue highlights on its hands. The dial itself is a metallic silver color with vertical brushing, black Arabic numeral hour markers, and a railroad-style minute track. At the 9 o’clock location is a snailed silver sub-dial with a bright red hand that displays the time in a 24-hour format, while sitting opposite it next to the 3 o’clock marker is a square aperture that functions as a date window. The time itself is displayed by a trio of centrally mounted hands that have a bright blue metallic finish and thin luminous inlays on the hour and minute hands. Tiny luminous dots are also placed next to the hour markers within the minute track to help with low light legibility, although the small size of the markings and the resulting minimal amount of luminous material used for them ultimately offers very little when it comes to either a brightly-glowing or long-lasting display in the dark.
Powering the Timex Marlin Automatic Sub-Dial series is the Miyota Caliber 8217 automatic movement. Based upon the core architecture of the proven and ubiquitous Cal. 8xxx series, the 21-jewel Miyota 8217 runs at the familiar specs of an operating frequency of 21600vph (3 Hz) with a power reserve of approximately 42 hours. Offering the standard conveniences of hacking, hand-winding, and quickset functionality for the date display, the self-winding Miyota Cal. 8217 also offers a 24-hour sub-dial. Due to the fact that the 24-hour hand is permanently synchronized to the three centrally-mounted hands, though, the sub-dial is essentially just a prominent AM/PM indicator that displays the time in a 24-hour format, rather than being something that can be used to track a second time zone. Although few people actually find AM/PM indicators useful on watches that only display one time zone, they do come in handy whenever you have to set the time and date on a watch after not wearing it for an extended period of time, given that you don’t need to advance the hands past midnight in order to verify whether the watch is currently displaying AM or PM hours.
Fitted to the 20mm lugs of the Timex Marlin Automatic Sub-Dial ref. TW2V62000ZV is a brown two-piece leather strap that has white contrast stitching and a signed stainless steel pin buckle. The strap connects to the case with integrated quick-release spring bars, and it offers a subtle taper from 20mm at the lugs down to 18mm where the two ends meet at the high-polished buckle. While the construction of the strap is carried out in China (as indicated by the hang tags and stickers that accompany the watch), the leather itself comes from S.B. Foot Tanning Co. located in Red Wing, Minnesota (indicated by the stamp on the inside of the strap), and it is quite soft and comfortable right out of the box with very little break-in time required. All things considered, the included strap for the Marlin Automatic Sub-Dial is quite a bit better than what normally can be found attached to watches at this price point. That said, with 20mm lugs and a fairly versatile overall appearance, I have a feeling that most owners will eventually be tempted to switch up the strap at some point, even if it’s just for the sake of variety.
Timex is one of the perennial fan-favorite brands when it comes to the ultra-affordable side of the industry, and Timex watches are equally likely to be spotted on the wrists of both hardcore enthusiasts and everyday people who have absolutely zero recreational interest in watches. With that in mind, when Timex decides to make a watch largely aimed at an enthusiast demographic, the results can often be quite compelling, especially given the firmly accessible positioning of the brand. The Timex Marlin Automatic Sub-Dial is accompanied by an official retail price of $279 USD. Admittedly, this is a bit more expensive than Timex’s entry-level watches; however, you are ultimately getting quite a lot more for your money, while still paying roughly the same price as bottom-dollar mechanical offerings from other fan-favorite affordable brands like Seiko, Citizen, and Orient. For more information on the Timex Marlin Automatic Sub-Dial watch, please visit the brand’s website.