February 12, 2020
by Ariel Adams
Get ready for another well-priced watch that Timex will not be able to keep in stock. Riding on the success of the Q Timex watches (aBlogtoWatch review here), the Timex M79 Automatic ref. TW2U29500 takes the popular retro sports watch case and the dial of the retro-redo quartz watch, and makes something new that includes a mechanical movement. Did you catch that irony? A new mechanical watch design, based on a vintage quartz watch. The times we live in…
Price is also a factor that Timex can boast about. While not the cheapest mechanical watch around, for the money there is a huge appeal in this under $300 drive-style watch that imagines itself as the Rolex GMT-Master II Batman of yesterday (not that there was one). The Timex M79 Automatic is a product borne of today’s watch collector culture, for today’s watch collector culture. The combination of features in this timepiece is like an assortment of timepiece enthusiast memes on social media. Vintage dive-style watch? Check. Inexpensive mechanical automatic? Check. Rolex inspired looks? Double-check. Steel case with integrated lugs and tapering bracelet? Check.
While the Q Timex case was 38mm-wide, the M79 Automatic goes up to a slightly more today-appropriate 40mm-wide in steel. The case design still looks great and, to be honest, with the thickness of the movement there is no way anyone would have wanted this watch to be narrower, else it look disproportionate.
Love it or hate it, over the dial is an acrylic crystal — which adds to the vintage aesthetic (even though Timex is very clear the M79 Automatic is an original, modern design). The case has just 50 meters of water resistant, but no one was really confusing this for a serious diver’s watch. For daily wear and durability, 50 meters is just fine.
The dial design is attractive with good use of colors and textures. The Timex “T” that sits in the hour hand reminds you that Rolex hands are meaningfully distinct. The calendar windows even use matching black discs rather than harshly contrasting white ones. This is a really nice touch at this price point. I would, however, have liked to see the M79 automatic reference TW2U29500 pair a blue-colored (even a lighter shade of blue) seconds hand (versus red) given the blue and black colors on the unidirectional rotating bezel (aluminum bezel insert). With the red hand, I can’t help but feel that Timex unnecessarily added a color to the mix. Watches can struggle when they try to make use of more than three colors on the dial. That said, the four-color design on the M79 Automatic does offer a pleasant sportiness to it which I think enough people will enjoy.
Inside the Timex M79 Automatic is a Japanese Miyota day/date automatic movement that operates at 3Hz with about 40 hours of power reserve. The un-decorated, un-regulated movement can be viewed through the rear of the watch, a nice touch (again) at this price point. Timex says that the M79 name means “M” for “mechanical,” and “79” for “1979. That is the inspiration year of the watch according to them, which is the year the re-issue Q Timex originally came out. The logic is a bit wonky because of the mechanical movement used to celebrate a quartz watch collection — but it hardly matters when the resulting product looks this nice and costs so little.
Timepiece collectors and fans seeking a neat-looking retro-styled yet modern sports watch with a very fair price will, again, flock to Timex. The M79 Automatic reference TW2U29500 is likely the first of several such watches and has a retail price of $279 USD. See more at the Timex website here.