Masters of the (Quartz) Universe and Rulers of the Affordable Vintage Reissue, Timex has quietly introduced a vintage-inspired quartz world timer that can be had for under $200. Timex has established itself as one of the best and most successful brands at digging into its archives and finding quirky, cool models to bring back to life. Whether it’s a chrono, a simple handwound 3-hander, or even just a crazy dial, Timex continues to kill it when it comes to this niche of watchmaking. With the new Timex World Time 1972 Reissue, though, the brand may have been a bit hasty.
The World Time 1972’s design is taken from a 1972 Timex simple called the Model 41. From what I can tell, the Model 41 was an electric movement that was featured in a number of models, all of which included a date, but not all of which would have had a city bezel. Clearly at least one of them did, and that’s the inspiration here. The chunky barrel case measures 39mm in diameter, and based on its shape and short, stubby lugs, you’re going to get every single millimeter in full. The case has polished sides with a circular brushed top and lugs. The crown is small enough to cause me concern for how easy it is to grip and operate. The watch gets 50 meters of water resistance and is fitted with a black leather strap. (In my experience, Timex straps are far better than the watch prices would lead you to expect).
The main attraction is the oversized rotating city bezel. It has bumps at each city pair that should give it excellent grip. It’s presumably bi-directional and likely has no detents, which would be just fine given its price, function, and vintage inspiration. While most world timers cram in 24 cities at 24 equidistant points around the bezel, Timex has smartly reduced the clutter. The cities—written in their French spellings, as the original watch was made for the European market—sit in pairs, ostensibly allowing you to simply line up your current city with the hour hand to read the time in other cities. (World timers allow you to check the time in other cities on demand but do not continuously track any other times; each time you want to check the time elsewhere, you need to realign the bezel.)
Where I think Timex stumbled, though, is in copying the bezel from the original 1972 model without bothering to update it to make it, you know, functional. The positions of the various cities on the bezel are not in line with current UTC offsets. So, what you have is a reissue that is so true to the original that it renders itself obsolete. If you’ve ever seen an early Seiko World Timer 6117, you may have noticed that London and GMT are offset by one hour. Starting 1968, England embarked on an experiment to maintain a GMT+1 setting year-round, but the House of Commons put an end to it in 1971. Which is to say that maybe 1972 was a weird year for time zones, too. Despite what I consider exhaustive research [Read: 30 minutes of Googling], I couldn’t confirm if or when the time zones may have shifted, but a look at a 1972 Seiko 6117 shows the same time differences this Timex displays.
Beneath a massive domed acrylic crystal sits the funky retro black-and-white dial. The sword hands appear filled with lume — with matching baton plots at each hour—while the product photo shows a bright glow. Those with experience with Timex lume know that the image might be a bit optimistic. Of particular note is the long wedge seconds hand that gives the dial a pop of color and the trapezoid date window. It all comes together for a dial that would appear to be exceptionally legible and well-balanced.
I understand wanting to keep things as accurate as possible, but when doing so means you lose the main stated function of a watch, you need to reconsider. Timex doesn’t seem to have done that with the World Time 1972 Reissue. As a rule, I think it’s not unreasonable to expect any function offered by a watch to do just that—function. Most of the people I’ve spoken with about this watch don’t seem too bothered by the glaring issue of functionality, instead, I believe, choosing to see this as a bit of very affordable vintage fun. More power to them, I suppose. The Timex World Time 1972 Reissue is priced at $179 USD and is available now directly from Timex. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.