While the world of watches has been riding the trend for several years now, the broader fashion community at large is beginning to experience a ‘70s revival. Looser silhouettes, earthy tones, and classic-rock looks have all begun to creep into the sartorial consciousness, and as the trend expands it feeds further energy into the disco-era stylistic movement in the watch industry, trickling these elements down from enthusiast-focused brands to the broadest mass-market offerings. There are few brands as proudly mass-market and democratic as Timex, and the evolution of its The Waterbury Traditional Automatic line is a showcase of this ‘70s zeitgeist in miniature. Combining a clean, everyday look with just enough sporty vintage flair to attract attention, the new Timex The Waterbury Traditional Automatic punches well above its weight for both finishing and style.

Where previous versions of the Timex The Waterbury Traditional Automatic used a narrow-bezel 42mm pilot watch inspired case, the new model downsizes to a more manageable 40mm diameter with a weightier, more athletic form. The overall shape is still simple, with traditional tapering sports watch lugs and a wide chamfered bezel, but Timex uses the simplicity of this design to its advantage. This isn’t trying to be anything it’s not here- there are no ornate character lines on the case, no optical-illusion undercuts to compact the case on the wrist, and no complex angles or flowing curves. What Timex has put together here is honest, clean, and impressively well finished, with smooth even brushing over most of the case. The simplicity of The Waterbury Traditional Automatic is precisely what makes it so versatile and easy to wear, and it makes the flourishes Timex does make – like a polished chamfer around the bezel and a crown signed with the intricate antique logo of the brand’s forebear the Waterbury Watch Company – that much more impactful. The one weak link here is that the simple form and the height of the case can make it feel a bit slab-sided on the wrist, but that’s something of a nitpick in this market segment. Timex also gives The Waterbury Traditional Automatic a mineral glass display back. This is a rarity at this price point, and while the Miyota movement within is no beauty queen it’s still a chance to look into the beating heart of a mechanical watch. Given the general-market appeal of the line, this could be an early inspiration for young or nascent enthusiasts just starting out. In keeping with the sporty, everyday vibe of the watch, Timex rates this case for a solid 100 meters of water resistance.

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In terms of overall design trends, the ‘70s were a fascinating era of maximalism, and in trying to capture the spirit of the decade the new Timex The Waterbury Traditional Automatic offers an impressive amount of visual detail without feeling cluttered or overdesigned. Nearly every surface here is designed to catch light in a different way, from the ridged azurage of the outer minutes track to the light vertical brushing of the main dial surface. A brightly polished accent ring separates the two and adds a highlight that draws the eyes toward the indices and minutes track for easy reading. Speaking of the indices, these simple polished elements are double fluted. This gives them a hint of unique, funky character, but it also ensures that the indices play with the light from almost any angle. The handset, by contrast, is kept simple, with a set of wide lumed pointed batons complemented by a stick seconds hand with the Waterbury Watch Company’s ornate “W” motif. While the use of the Waterbury marque is more than a little anachronistic here, with the Timex nameplate long in use by the time the ‘70s rolled around, this is a nice piece of intricate detail in a mostly clean and elemental design. The cool malachite green hue of the seconds hand is a welcome accent as well, playing well with the navy blue of the dial and offering a glossy counterpoint to the satin surface below. This use of color is undermined, however, by the day/date complication at 3 o’clock. With a matching blue set of day and date wheels, this would be a welcome and functional addition to the dial, but the standard set of black wheels here disrupts the visual flow and feels almost like a hole in the dial. This impression isn’t helped by the lack of a border between the day and date displays. The gap between the two wheels is clearly visible, and as a result this looks more like an unfinished spot in an otherwise impressively executed dial than a deliberate stylistic choice.

Timex does not confirm the exact identity of the 21 jewel Miyota automatic movement inside the Timex The Waterbury Traditional Automatic, but the powerplant is most likely the Miyota 8205. The finishing here is clean and basic, with brushed and bead blasted surfaces topped by a signed rotor. Performance is solid and reliable, with a 42 hour power reserve and a 21,600 bph beat rate.

Like the rest of the watch’s design, the Timex The Waterbury Traditional Automatic’s strap looks better than competitors charging significantly more. The broken-in texture of this saddle brown leather strap gives it a wealth of character, and the color itself contrasts smoothly with the cool blues and greens of the dial. Timex also adds quick release spring bars to the design here, making strap changes a breeze and encouraging experimentation with different strap types.

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By tapping into the colorful and charismatic spirit of the current ‘70s watch revival, the Timex The Waterbury Traditional Automatic creates a fun and versatile daily wear summer piece with finishing that belies its humble origins. The Timex The Waterbury Traditional Automatic will be available through authorized retailers and through the brand’s e-commerce platform in June 2021, carrying an MSRP of $259. For more details, please visit the brand’s website.

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