Why I think the Timex Marlin is the perfect entry-level manual-winding watch Why I think the Timex Marlin is the perfect entry-level manual-winding watch

Why I think the Timex Marlin is the perfect entry-level manual-winding watch

Charlotte Harris

When in the early stages of watch collecting, it’s easy to fall into the trap of buying what everyone else owns – and without stereotyping too much, that often falls to brands like Rolex or Patek Philippe. These are, of course, great watches and are worthy of many bucket lists. But it’s OK to admit you’re at a stage in your watch collecting journey where affording such a financially weighty timepiece isn’t possible yet.

I’ve always been an advocate for affordable, accessible watchmaking, especially because with a mortgage, house renovations and wedding to pay for, I’m not in a position to be spending thousands on watches either – as much as I’d like to. So that has led me to explore the many avenues of entry-level watches: timepieces that keep their prices low but still offer levels of craftsmanship that satiate a love of mechanical watchmaking.

Timex Marlin Hand Wound TW2V44700

To name just a few, brands like Seiko, Orient, Steinhart and Citizen have made finding entry-level automatic winding watches feel pretty effortless. But, if you’re like me and your collection doesn’t quite feel complete without the tactility of a manual-winding watch, things are a little harder. In fact, there are so few manual winding watches for under $500 that it only leaves you with a handful of choices and in my opinion, the best of the bunch is the Timex Marlin Hand-Wound.

Today’s Timex Marlin collection first made its debut in 2017, bringing back to life the retro personality of the Timex Marlin from the 1960s. The launch was the American watch manufacturer’s first mechanical watch since 1987, and with no model exceeding the $450 mark, it has become a necessary launch pad for those in the market for an affordable mechanical timepiece.

Timex Marlin Hand Wound 1960s Comparison

As far as I’m concerned, Timex has hit the nail on the head with the Marlin. Ignoring the models printed with Snoopy on the dial, the Hand-Wound 34mm references are clear tributes to their 1960’s predecessors, electing Art Deco-inspired numerals and compact, brightly polished cases. In fact, the manual-winding Timex Marlins retain the exact measurements of the original, measuring to 34mm wide and 10mm tall. It was certainly a dicey move from Timex to launch a watch considered small by today’s standards, but the risk paid off, as so many enthusiasts have eaten the compact dimensions right up.

In my opinion, it’s the dial of the Timex Marlin Hand-Wound watch that warrants today’s article title. There are a few different dial options available, but all of them speak to lovers of retro design. One of the best-known crowd pleasers is the Marlin found under reference TW2R47900. It has a handsome silver sunburst display set with black stylised Arabic numerals. It’s the kind of dial I can imagine on Don Draper’s wrist in the midst of 1960s New York City.

Timex Marlin Hand Wound California Dial

With a touch more funk, you also have references like the TW2V44700 with its reflective silver sunburst dial, mid-century inspired Arabic numerals and touches of gold added to the dial’s hardware and crown. Then you have my personal Timex Marlin of choice, nicknamed for obvious reasons as the Marlin Hand-Wound 34mm California.  For added flair, this model elects a simple matte white dial, raised California numerals for the top half of the dial and a distinctive green alligator leather strap.

As mentioned in the introduction, the Timex Marlin 35mm is a manual-winding watch and quite possibly one of the most affordable manual-winding watches on the market. The exact calibre used is still under question, but the “Made in China” engraving on the case back hints it’s most likely produced by Tianjin Seagull. Understandably, this may put some of you off, but hopefully, the price tag, manual-winding capability and overall look of the Marlin will keep you interested.

Timex Marlin Hand Wound TW2R47900 Dial

A manual winding movement fits the aesthetic of the Timex Marlin perfectly. In the end, it was these mechanisms that powered the world’s first wristwatches and so these modern-day iterations connect us to this horological tradition. There’s also a certain tactile satisfaction in winding your watch every morning. Turning the crown, feeling the resistance, and hearing the subtle click of the mainspring tighten gives you a real appreciation for the craftsmanship going on inside. With an automatic watch, no matter how convenient it might be, it’s easy to take the technology for granted. It’s harder to forget that when you have a morning routine involving winding your hand-wound timepiece.

But here’s the kicker: not only is the Timex Marlin a great-looking manual-winding watch, but it’s just A$375 or US$209. Yes, you read that right. In a world where we’re constantly seeing watch prices go up, it’s nice to see brands still thinking of those of us with limited bank balances. Sure, there are better-made manual-winding watches out there, but unless you’ve got thousands of dollars to play with, your options are seriously limited.

Timex Marlin Hand Wound Wrist Shot

To me, the Timex Marlin is the best of both worlds. It offers a perfect balance of great vintage design and affordable pricing. It’s for this reason it gets my vote as the best entry-level manual winding watch. I should probably also mention the Marlin collection has some great automatic models that are just as reasonably priced and well-designed, too. If you prefer the convenience of an automatic movement, I recommend checking out models like the Timex Marlin Jet or the Marlin Automatic 40mm.