Compared to some of the existing MK1 Steel Chronograph 42mm watches, this new for 2018 reference TW2R96500 offers a slightly redesigned dial, new strap, and now fully black-colored case. The matte PVD-coated black steel case now includes black pushers and a black crown, which on some past models were non-coated steel. The attention to detail when it comes to surface finishes and colors on this watch is the exact same I’d come to expect from much more expensive luxury sport watches. The dial includes satin-finished gray hands which contrast with the face wonderfully, and the mixture of cream-colored Arabic hour markers and slightly green outer block hour markers is both visually attractive and helps push the visual military/aviation theme of the watch. Hands and proportions are all more or less the right size, while reading the dial through the crystal offers a mostly glare-free experience. I really wish I had this many good things to say about more dials on watches costing many, many times this price.
For this watch Timex opts for a traditional acrylic crystal. Fans of the Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch will know how this offers a warm, pleasant look to a watch dial. Unlike mineral or sapphire crystal, acrylic doesn’t suffer from much glare. An acrylic crystal on an unpretentious military-style watch like this Timex MK1 Chronograph feels much more appropriate and in my opinion is a superior way to enjoy the look of an acrylic crystal without having to spend big bucks. The downside of acrylic crystals is that they scratch easily. This can be resolved using a sort of chemical scrub on the surface of the crystal, or an inexpensive crystal replacement.
On the wrist the MK1 Chronograph is 42mm wide, 12.5mm thick, and has a 49mm lug-to-lug distance. With a 20mm wide strap (that tapers down to 16mm wide) the watch wears modestly for the size. It is also very comfortable. Water resistance is 30m, but at this price I don’t really mind. Note that the three-hand version of the Timex MK1 is smaller at 40mm wide and in addition to this steel-cased version of the MK1 Chronograph, Timex has some other versions which are even less expensive in aluminum cases. While aluminum is a bit lighter, I would recommend getting this watch in the steel case.
In the interest of fashionability and to appeal to enthusiasts, Timex includes an attractive leather strap which has quick-release spring bars. A generation ago you’d never see this on a Timex (from what I know), but today’s Timex is much more interested in appealing to people who identify as “watch lovers” (in addition to their large mass market audiences, of course). That means being able to swap out straps is something they not only want to make easy, but anticipate that their customers will want to do. The leather strap itself feels more expensive than it is, being both supple and not boring visually. For example it has “vintage strap style” stitching near the strap end, and if you look closely, you can see “MK1” embossed on the strap as well as numbers at each of the strap holes (which in my opinion is a stylish element designed to enhance the “measuring device” theme of the product). The strap is however on the longer side. Timex says that they make multiple strap lengths and that watches for the American market typically have longer straps while those for other places such as Europe and Asia tend to have shorter straps.
Given Timex’s real history making these watches as well as their clear intent on producing a product that satisfies the tastes of enthusiasts, it is hard not to recommend a product like this if you can see a place for it in your collection. The irony of course is that while this under-$150 product is among the least expensive items we discuss on aBlogtoWatch, it currently represents one of the higher price-point items at the Timex brand, whose average price point is well under $100 USD. Check one out as I don’t think you’ll be disappointed and I look forward to hearing from readers about their own experiences with good quality, albeit unpretentious timepieces like this reference TW2R96500 Timex MK1 Steel Chronograph 42mm watch. Retail price is $139 USD. timex.com
>Model: MK1 Steel Chronograph 42mm (reference TW2R96500 as tested)
>Price: $139 USD
>Size: 42mm wide, 12.5mm thick, 49mm lug-to-lug distance
>When reviewer would personally wear it: Out and about when I want my watch to not take away from my style (ideally adding to it) while wanting to not worry about beating up my watch or worrying that it will be illegible or uncomfortable.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Anyone wanting to test out a traditional military-style chronograph with the look of an acrylic crystal. Also those seeking a good look for a good price.
>Best characteristic of watch: Timex’s attention to detail is clearly visible as well as their attention to value and wearability. This is a contemporary tool watch if there was ever one. Dial is very attractive and overall the watch feels and looks great at this price point.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Doesn’t push new ground design-wise – but then again this style of watch isn’t trying to do so. I just mention that because seeing this watch doesn’t immediately make most people think “Timex.” Crystal will show signs of age sooner than later – but can be efficiently remedied with a low cost repair or product replacement.