Perhaps more than any other brand, Timex has successfully tapped into its archives to revisit vintage designs for a modern audience. Whether its through its collaborations with Todd Snyder or on its own, Timex has redefined itself over the past few years as a brand for enthusiasts. Just a few weeks ago, Timex debuted two new Marlin Automatic models inspired by the vintage Timex Viscount. Those models clocked in at 40mm and had automatic movements, with striking dials in blue or green. But Timex wasn’t done–before the month was out, they had released a smaller version. The Timex Marlin Hand-wound 34mm features the same mid-century design as its automatic counterparts, but is truer to the original in both color and size, presenting an appealing option for vintage purists.
The original Timex Viscount was its own model family, comprised of Timex’s models with automatic movements. With the first models produced in 1961 and printed with “self-wind” on the dial, later models featured “automatic” on the dial, and the line was eventually discontinued in the late 1970s. As Viscount was an umbrella under which all automatics were housed, one could find everything from dressy pieces with white dials and Breguet numerals to sporty tonneau cases with dive bezels. For the model at hand, Timex decided to pick from the middle of the Viscount timeline in 1969. The 1969 Viscount was automatic, but otherwise was almost identical to the new model. It had the boxed cardinal hour markers, lumed sword hands, and was offered in a polished gold-tone or chrome-plated case (references 4014, 4017, and 4047, if you’re wondering). Timex seems to have opted to blend the two cases with the two-tone modern offering and has made some other very minor changes.
The silver sunburst dial of the Timex Marlin Hand-Wound 34mm is a bright and cheerful thing, and the gold hands and applied markers offer excellent contrast and ensure ideal legibility. The polished handset features lume, but as you might expect, it’s rather underwhelming. The original 1969 model featured lume on both the hands and on the round plots at the hours along the minute track. For some reason, Timex opted not to lume those pips for the reissue, and given how clean and almost formal this watch is, I wonder why the brand didn’t finish the job and omit the lume on the hands. The applied markers, though, are the real draw here. Both the batons and the boxed numerals feature black with gold borders, which catch light beautifully, with the boxed numerals printed in a funky mid-century font that gives the watch a bit of extra flair. Another small change the brand made was to print the numerals in gold, whereas the original had them printed in white; it’s a smart decision that creates more cohesion on the dial.
The case of the Timex Marlin is perhaps most remarkable for its size. The 34mm diameter is diminutive except for the smallest of (male) wrists. Even with the industry’s recent swing towards more modest proportions, 34mm is objectively small; my initial inclination was to have my wife model it for the wrist shots. But as I spent more time with it on my wrist, I found myself warming to the idea of a smaller watch on my wrist. There’s a charm to it, and it’s so easy to wear, you almost forget about it. The case design is rather straightforward: fully polished with a very subtle curve afforded by the blocky lugs (which are drilled, something I found impressive for such slight lugs). The domed acrylic crystal offers a classic vintage look that is in line with the rest of the watch and adds some not unwelcome height to the 10mm case.
The nested gold-tone crown, while proportionate, was unquestionably dainty in my fingers. I found it difficult to pull out and grip for winding; it was workable, but not ideal. At the same time, I’d likely criticize the crown if it were any larger, and the inconvenience of poor-gripped winding for 30 seconds or so isn’t a dealbreaker. The Marlin comes on an 18mm black leather strap with a polished steel pin buckle, well matched to the case and the black on the dial. With affordable watches like Timex offers, I’m often underwhelmed with the quality of the included leather straps, but this one felt quite nice, with thick, leather that required no break-in. The 18mm lugs, though, present another shortcoming for me (and I assume most people who don’t have small or vintage watches): I don’t have many other 18mm straps. As someone who likes to swap straps with almost every wear, this means some additional investment on my end.
The movement for the Timex Marlin Hand-Wound 34mm is an uncertainty, much like with its sibling (with the same model name). That said, it is almost definitely the same movement as that other model. We know that the other Marlin mechanical has a Chinese movement with 20 jewels (some have suggested it’s a Seagull ST-6 with the automatic winding mechanism removed). Images I’ve seen show a roughly finished mechanism with faux blued screws, harsh edges, and laughable attempts at filagree. Unlike vintage Timex movements, it is serviceable, so that’s something. If it is an ST-6, you can expect 21,600 vph for a decent sweep, and in our hands-on with the original hand-wound Marlin, we got -/+10 seconds per day. It doesn’t offer hacking, though, so precise setting is a challenge. There’s a trick if you want to try it: On these and other cheap movements, you can sometimes get the seconds hand to stop by ever so slightly rolling the crown back; do so at 12 o’clock and you can, theoretically, set it to the exact time. It is always worth remembering, though, that at $199, you must temper your movement expectations and perhaps give more weight to the design and build of the watch.
If you want the real thing but don’t want to deal with the hassle of a vintage watch, this is about as close as you can get to the Timex Viscount. Timex has done a superb job in recreating this mid-century design with very subtle updates. Like any well-done reissue, the Timex Marlin Hand-Wound 34mm is vintage without the worry, and it looks good, to boot. Pricing for the Timex Marlin Hand-Wound 34mm is set at $199 USD, making it more of a “Why not?” than a “Why?” For more information, please visit the brand’s website.
>Model: Marlin Hand-Wound 34mm TW2V44700ZV
>Size: 34mm-wide, 10mm-thick, 41mm lug-to-lug distance, 18mm lugs
>When reviewer would personally wear it: With a sweater on a cool fall day, or any time when I’m feeling a little old fashioned
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Anyone with a smaller wrist looking for a clean dress watch with a twist; anyone looking for a vintage-inspired watch with vintage-inspired dimensions
>Best characteristic of watch: Boxed cardinal hour markers; combination of black, gold, and silver
>Worst characteristic of watch: Crown is very small; lume is mediocre; size and acrylic crystal will be dealbreakers for some