Amid widespread price increases across the industry and historically high inflation, it can feel at times as though the era of the truly affordable watch is coming to an end. Since the initial launch of the Q Timex line in 2019, Timex has established itself as a bastion of affordable fun in enthusiast circles, and in the following years the brand has keenly expanded the line into a wide range of colorways, case options, and complications. While the Q Timex family has already offered its funky, ‘70s-inflected take on everything from diver-styled watches to GMTs and daily-wear three-handers, the series has historically lacked one of the most popular complications of all — a chronograph. The vintage-inspired racing chronograph space is arguably hotter than ever in late 2022, and as this stylistic trend charges on Timex blends the Q Timex line’s distinctive silhouette with cues that could be lifted straight from the golden era of racing chronographs. The new Timex Q Timex Chronograph delivers an impressively fun and stylish wearing experience at the (barely) sub-$200 price point, offering a variety of refinements and an overall look that stands well above other affordably priced competitors.
At 40mm-wide, the stainless steel case of the Timex Q Timex Chronograph comes in appreciably larger than its 38mm-wide three-hand counterpart but still feels suitably vintage and compact on the wrist. The overall form is largely shared with the rest of the Q Timex family, with a sharply angular case profile, flatly beveled and brushed hooded lugs, and a narrow case side chamfer running from lug to lug. Timex gives this form a more nuanced shape on the wrist thanks to a shallow angled undercut taking up the lower third of the case sides, but by and large, the shape here is simple, bold, and properly late-‘70s angular. With that said, the case finishing is also decidedly simple. Outside of some solid horizontal brushing on the ends of the hooded lugs, the case is fully polished, with a soft and at times slightly wavy surface. Obviously, there are finishing constraints when working at this entry-level price point, and the predominantly polished look makes for an eye-catchingly bright watch on the wrist, but detail-minded enthusiasts may want to keep this in mind.
The Timex Q Timex Chronograph’s case sets itself apart from its predecessors in two ways — the first, obviously, are the two classic piston-style chronograph pushers at 2 o’clock and 4 o’clock. The second is the handsome, classically styled polished black aluminum tachymeter bezel. With a full scale that successfully captures the look of the great racing chronographs of the ‘60s and ‘70s without directly aping any one reference, this bezel design goes a long way towards providing the Q Timex Chronograph with a classic, refined, race-ready new character on the wrist. Timex sticks with the line’s familiar, tall domed (and highly distorting) crystal design, but does swap over from the acrylic used on previous models to more durable mineral crystal. Around back, the Timex Q Timex Chronograph maintains the series’ solid caseback and battery-changing aperture, as well as the line’s 50 meters of water resistance.
The Timex Q Timex Chronograph’s dial is its greatest visual departure from the rest of the series, not just through the new complication, but with a sharply different approach to overall styling. The standard Q Timex is heavily influenced by diver designs, with printed dive indices and Mercedes-style hands. On the other hand, the Q Timex Chronograph instead takes its cues from the great sports chronographs of the ‘60s and ‘70s. There are hints of Rolex Daytona, Heuer Carrera, and more through its split baton indices, polished baton hands, and the classic panda dial three register layout. Timex continues the line’s khaki fauxtina lume application here, but the scant lume plots surrounding the indices and on the handset make this much more of a subtle accent than it is on the standard three-hand models. There’s also surprising subtlety in the Q Timex Chronograph’s dial finishing, as Timex accentuates the simple matte black of the dial surface not with stark white subdials, but with a pale, slightly warm silver hue that suggests aging without any overt “tropical” surfacing. The brand does not opt for the customary azurage finish on these subdials, likely for manufacturing cost reasons, but does add a hint of surface variety to the subdials with a fine metallic paint texture. Taken as a whole, it’s a clean and handsomely balanced chronograph layout, but a handful of factors may prove divisive. Date windows at 4:30 are a common point of contention among chronograph fans, but Timex adds another layer of potential enthusiast controversy with the date wheel’s typeface. Throughout the rest of the Q Timex Chronograph’s design, the brand opts for modern, crisp sans serif fonts, but the date display contrasts this with a busier serif typeface design. It’s admittedly a small detail, but one that enthusiasts may quibble over. The larger point of potential controversy lies at 12 o’clock. Rather than a more traditional applied index, Timex uses an oversized applied “Q” emblem as the 12 o’clock marker. While this does efficiently tie this model back to the rest of the series visually, its unorthodox look is a love-it-or-hate-it inclusion, particularly at a time when the letter Q carries some onerous connotations in American society.
Inside the Timex Q Timex Chronograph beats the Epson YM12a quartz chronograph movement. This is a common option inside Timex’s chronograph offerings, and it offers solid performance while remaining impressively affordable. A chronograph complication at a sub-$200 price point is an impressive feat on its own, but the YM12a provides a few notable benefits that elevate it further. The first of these is the central chronograph seconds hand. Rather than the one-second jump commonly associated with quartz movements, this seconds hand moves with a smoother, mechanical-style 1/5-second interval that helps to visually connect this design to the chronographs of the past while imparting a sense of quality. The battery life is also commendable, offering a full five years of operation before needing a change. Naturally, however, a chronograph movement at this price does come with some compromises, and the YM12a is no exception. Although the central chronograph seconds hand moves smoothly, the 9 o’clock running seconds subdial is a different story, with a more familiar quartz sweep that immediately singles this out as a quartz movement. Likewise, the 3 o’clock 24-hour subdial is a quartz chronograph staple, and while it does work to help overall dial symmetry it offers little real-world functionality as it is tied to the main hours hand without an independent setting. Lastly, the pushers offer a mushy, light feel that stands at odds with the sharp, snappy actuation of a mechanical or a meca-quartz chronograph movement.
Timex fits the Q Timex Chronograph with either a leather strap or a multi-link bracelet in stainless steel. Our review sample arrived on a black leather strap, and this strap quickly established itself as one of the watch’s most impressive features. Co-signed by an American tannery in Red Wing, Minnesota, this is a soft, thick, and supple wearing experience right out of the box, with a matte surface that showcases a wealth of nuanced details. It’s a strap that competes favorably against watches several times its price in both comfort and aesthetics, with a clear attention to detail including notched ends to allow the strap to flow more smoothly into the lines of the case body.
Although it may be tougher than ever to find truly great watches at rock-bottom prices, there are still gems at the entry level price point, and the Timex Q Timex Chronograph is a prime example of this. The Timex Q Timex Chronograph is available now through authorized dealers at a starting MSRP of $199 USD. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.
>Model: Q Timex Chronograph
>Price: $199 USD
>When reviewer would personally wear it: As a sporty, vintage-inspired “beater watch.”
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Budding enthusiasts looking to dip their toes into the world of vintage-style chronographs; budget-minded collectors looking for a truly solid, affordable chronograph option.
>Best characteristic of watch: Classic racy styling, handsome proportions, high-quality strap, compelling value.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Mismatched date wheel is a snag in an otherwise clean design; underwhelming case finishing; 12 o’clock “Q” emblem is a divisive stylistic choice.