This is the first white-dialed watch of its kind produced by military supplier and wristwatch maker Marathon. I visited Marathon’s headquarters in Toronto, Canada recently and found that the company’s leader was proudly wearing a prototype of this watch. “You know, this is the first white dial we have made like this,” says third-generation Marathon owner Mitchel Wein. The Medium Diver’s Quartz (also often known as the TSAR, or “tritium search and rescue watch”) is an interesting and very practical “tool watch” produced by Marathon, which continues to supply timepieces to U.S., UK, Canadian, and other military forces. More recently, Marathon has made the important decision to add spice to its timepiece collections, while making sure that Marathon watches remain as durable and useful as they have always been.
Depending on who you ask, you might get a different name for this watch family beyond the standard “Medium Diver’s Quartz with White Dial.” Some refer to it as a TSAR, but that term generally applies to the 40mm-wide quartz model. Marathon’s own nickname for this White Dial watch is the “Arctic MSAR,” or Arctic Medium Search & Rescue watch. “Arctic” because of the white dial, and because Marathon had previously made a yet-to-be-released prototype watch with a white dial meant for extreme cold weather use. I have a different name for this timepiece. My personal nickname for this suit-sized (it looks best with long sleeves on most adult wrists) diver’s watch is the Marathon Ghostbuster. Why? Well, the black, and white main color palette with the splash of red reminds me of the famous Ghostbusters logo. Given that Marathon Ghostbuster sounds a bit more fun and elegant than “Marathon Medium Quartz Diver White Dial reference WW194027BRACE-NM-WD,” I think I will go with that when referring to it.
In addition to the new white-colored dial, there are a few other small changes to this watch. First is the placement of the Marathon graphic logo on the dial. This has also never been done before, with the strict “Marathon” text logo being on the dial of their watches. Note that the placement of the logo on the dial of this Medium Quartz Diver Ghostbuster does not mean all Marathon watches moving forward will have the logo on there. There may be some Marathon watches with this logo graphic on the dial, and plenty of others without it.
Another small change made to the watch in order to make sure legibility remains typically high (as is the case with all Marathon watches) is the coloring of the hands, which are now black as opposed to white. For many generations, if you wanted a Marathon military/sport/diver watch, the only color was black — this is simply what the military wanted and approved. If your client has exacting needs and only wants black dials, then that is what you are going to make. Marathon, today, will certainly keep making watches for its military customers, but its consumer-facing focus is maturing and developing nicely. That means more “fashionable” extensions of tool watch collections we have known and loved for quite a while. That said, recall that even though Marathon has been making military watches for 80 years, it has been selling wristwatches to the general public for only about 10 years.
In fact, not only is the Marathon Medium Diver’s Quartz Ghostbuster itself a design experiment, but the way Marathon is launching it is also new for the brand. For a period of time, Marathon has given the online men’s store Huckberry the ability to exclusively sell the Marathon TSAR Ghostbuster. After that, other Marathon retailers will have access to the watches. That is very interesting to me and I look forward to seeing how it goes. This is because launching and selling a new watch online is anything but a straightforward task for brands. Getting people to know about brand new models and directing them to a comfortable place to purchase them is a challenge even the most developed wristwatch companies currently struggle with.
Let’s proceed to talk about the watch itself. This is an entry-level model for Marathon, which means it comes with a comparatively affordable price. Marathon produces its most popular models (which includes the Medium Diver) with both Swiss quartz and Swiss mechanical movement options. It is a testament to the company’s fair pricing practices that the difference in cost between the quartz and automatic mechanical model of the Medium Diver is less than $300. The 36mm-wide MSAR comes with both movement options, and here we see it with the Swiss ETA caliber F06 “high torque” movement. Why high torque? Because the hands need to be strong enough to move around those heavy hands that are weighted down with self-illuminating tritium gas tubes. Tritium gas tubes are an incredible feature which that ensures that Marathon watch dials are legible in all lighting conditions — especially total darkness. The mostly green tubes are used in the hands, as well as at each of the hour markers. (The tube at 12 o’clock is orange in order to better visually orient the dial in the dark.)
The dial still has a full track of Arabic hour numerals for both the 12 and 24-hour display, as well as a date window located between 4 and 5 o’clock. The all-red seconds hand is a fun dash of color, whereas, on the traditional black-dialed Medium Quartz Diver, only the tip of the seconds hand is red. Around the dial is Marathon’s iconic “deep” uni-directional rotating diver’s-style timing bezel in black. I would have personally liked to see this feature in white, but the black and white look of the Medium Diver’s Ghostbuster is a handsome look unto itself.
As a true diver’s watch, the Medium Diver’s Quartz TSAR case is water resistant to 300 meters and has a flat, AR-coated sapphire crystal over the dial. The 36mm-wide steel case is certainly smallish by dive watch standards but does represent a size that is both traditional and that many people like. As someone who typically wears short sleeves, I prefer Marathon’s 40mm-wide GSAR, but for long sleeves or more formal attire, the 36mm Medium Diver is actually a pretty solid choice. The case also doesn’t feel super small given its 12mm thickness and the wider lug structures.
Also helping the watch to look its best is pairing with the matching 316L stainless steel bracelet (you can also purchase it on a black rubber strap). While you can put any number of 18mm-wide straps on the Marathon Medium Diver’s Quartz Ghostbuster, I think it looks the most handsome with the three-link brushed steel bracelet. Not only does the bracelet attractively taper (an important visual touch), but it also uses chunky screws to secure the links. Note, however, that sizing the bracelet requires you to use a screwdriver on both sides of the screw — which means some special tools might be required. The bracelet has a fold-over deployant clasp, which is a bit “last generation,” but gets the job done. It also has a fold-out diver’s extension if you needed to wear the watch over a big jacket or wetsuit.
Practical, a bit less serious-looking than the version with the black dial, as well as very much a real tool watch, the Marathon Medium Diver’s Quartz White Dial WW194027BRACE-NM-WD “Ghostbuster” or “Arctic MSAR” has a retail price of $650 on the rubber strap and $800 USD on the steel bracelet. For the time being, it can be found exclusively at Huckberry. To learn more about Marathon, visit the website here.