In The Press: A Hodinkee Writer Revisits His First Watch

This nostalgic editorial looks back at an event that many of us probably remember as well — a kid’s first watch. In the case of James Stacey, a senior writer for Hodinkee, it was our Timex Ironman (a model from the beginning of the INDIGLO® era) that first sparked his love for the world of watches and led him to a career in the industry.

Read an excerpt below or get the full story here, and view a fun TV advertisement from the era detailing the launch of INDIGLO® technology.

“If you can, think back to 1994. Given the path that my life has taken, it was an important year in the life of a young boy obsessed with a great many things, including the underwater world, cameras, Playmobile, LEGO, and just about anything that glowed in the dark. 1994 was also the year I asked for my first watch.

Early in the year, I was confronted with a dilemma of great magnitude – how to spend the birthday money I received from my grandmother. For a soon-to-be eight-year-old, there is no power more nectarine in its sweetness than one’s birthday cash. Mine came in two parts. I wanted to see the 1994, large-dog comedy sequel Beethoven’s 2nd, and I wanted a Timex Ironman with the then still-new-to-the-market tech called Indiglo.

So, sometime in March of 1994, my parents and I stopped by The Bay (a Canadian department store) en route to the movie theater. Armed with a king’s ransom of gift money from my Grandma (no more than $50, which made me a one-percenter in the world of Canadian 8-year-olds), I bought my first watch. It was, and remains, a black-on-grey example of a very early Indiglo-equipped Timex Ironman Triathlon, fitted to a black resin strap. While Timex undoubtedly designed it for athletes in training, I could not so much as hope to conceal how happy I was with this little watch, and its cutting-edge electroluminescent backlight. I recall watching a VHS copy of Beethoven’s 2nd sometime later, and being surprised by just how much of the film I had missed as I endlessly engaged that smooth blue-green backlight in the dark theatre.”

 

ALL IMAGES AND QUOTED TEXT FROM HODINKEE

The Timex Guide to Military Watches

We can thank the US Military for helping to develop a lot of things we use today — the GPS system, aviator sunglasses, duct tape, cargo pants, even microwaves.

And… the wristwatch?

US troops did, in fact, help popularize the wristwatch in the early part of the 20th century. It really got rolling during WWI, when trench warfare tactics and modern weaponry changed the face of battle. Soldiers needed to constantly be aware of the time for missions and maneuvers, but couldn’t put everything on pause and divert their attention to pulling out a pocket watch, flipping up the cover, then stowing it again during a seige. If you’re fighting in the trenches and trying to stay alive, you’re probably also trying to rid yourself of fiddly things as much as possible.

Some of these soldiers in Europe looked for help from a metalsmith to attach strap lugs to their pocket watches. Others modified the old watches themselves, so that they could be strapped to a wrist.

This obviously kept the watch far more accessible than if it had been stowed in a pocket or bag, and allowed a solider to quickly glance down to check elapsed time or running time during crucial moments (or maybe just count down the hours until he could expect a hot meal and a good night’s sleep). When these soldiers came home, they found that they preferred the wrist watch to a pocket watch, and set a trend others followed.

Many well-known watch companies have produced, and still produce, military-grade watches: Omega, Panerai, Rolex, CWC, Tudor, IWC, Casio and even Seiko. Other brands have occasionally just gone in for the aesthetic, like Audemars Piguet with their Royal Oak 14790ST (love it or hate it, at least it’s interesting to look at!). Some are simple field watches, but dive watches, chronographs and oversized pilot’s watches all have their roots in the timepieces that were developed to meet the needs of various militaries.

Pictured (and listed) below are some of our own military-inspired watches that we think you’ll like. Shop the whole category here; otherwise, scroll down to see our picks.

PILOT’S WATCHES
Pilots have always needed to keep close track of the time, and before digital controls and autopilot, you’d be relying on your watch for navigation and maneuvering as you flew above the battle zone. Pilot’s watches are usually on the large side by today’s standards — 42 to 48mm — with dials that can be read easily at a glance, even when the cockpit is vibrating or shaking. Some pilots also still wear wristwatch chronographs as failsafes, in case the cockpit instruments are damaged during flight. Also of note: pilot’s watches were originally designed with oversized crowns so their mechanical movements could be wound while wearing gloves. Since this is rarely a concern nowadays, the big-crown feature is much less common, but brands like IWC, Laco and Zenith still make modern big-crown pilot’s watches powered by mechanical movements.

MK1 40mm Chronograph

Waterbury Traditional 42mm 

Waterbury Traditional 42mm Chronograph

FIELD WATCHES
Among the simpler military-inspired designs, the humble field watch is a general-purpose timepiece for all conditions. These are typically 40mm or smaller, relatively lightweight, and are free of extra features or complications like a chronograph or day/date window to keep things as stripped-down as possible. However, some feature rotating bezels to help with navigation like our Navi Land watch.

Historical fact: Timex produced a watch for a contract bid with the US Marine Corps in the early 1980s. Though the contract was never fully put into action — the military ultimately went with a different watch supplier — that project developed into the 36mm resin MK1 we have today, which is almost exactly the same as that original prototype.

MK1 36mm Resin Field Watch

Scout 40 Field Watch

Navi Land 38mm

DIVE WATCHES
For special-operations troops and certain divisions of various naval armies, a watch that’s robust and highly water-resistant has always been a must. While a true dive watch meets very exacting international standards for water resistance, dial legibility and other factors, most needs can be met with a 100m/10atm water resistance rating, a unidirectional rotating bezel and a high-contrast dial with glowing hour markers.

Allied Coastline 43mm

Navi XL Automatic 41mm

Navi XL 41mm

LA-Based Brain Dead Collaborates with Timex

With custom Brain Dead graphics front-and-center on the dial and etched into the case back, plus a bright yellow second-hand and an eye-catching blurred-number motif on the watch face, the Timex x Brain Dead watch is a distinctive way to state your style and track your time. If the hours are slipping by lately and everything’s a blur, this watch could be the thing that helps you get a grip.

From its own About page: Brain Dead is a creative collective of artists and designers from around the world.
With its disruptive, graphic-led approach, the brand takes its cues from post punk, underground comics, skateboarding, and the spirit of subculture as a whole.

We joined forces with Brain Dead to produce a watch that’s fashion-forward in design and sturdy in construction. Based around our classic Acadia case design and shaped from matte black resin, the watch ships with two different straps in deep olive green and bold yellow to suit your tastes.

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Timex’s New Watch Is Designed to Be the Most ‘Timex’ Ever

 

The most “Timex” TimexWhat does that even mean? Well, to Galli, it means the new watch that just released this week. The project is so close to him that it even bears his name: the Giorgio Galli S1 Automatic. It’s an elevated timepiece, especially for Timex, with a skeletonized stainless steel case housing a Miyota 9039 automatic movement, and a price tag of $450. The strap is made from an ultra-durable synthetic rubber, and finished with a riveted strap-keeper instead of a loop. Under a domed K1 mineral crystal, the silver-tone, brushed-metal face features a synthetic ruby set just above the six o’clock position.”

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THE TIMEX S1 WATCH IS AN UPSCALE AUTOMATIC STUNNER

“To mark the brand’s 165th anniversary Timex announced today that its Milan-based Design Director Giorgio Galli has created “the most ‘Timex’ Timex ever made.”

In a release the company said the S1 Automatic is the product of Galli’s artistic sensibilities and his originality—with it, he seeks in part to tell the story of his long partnership with Timex.”

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EXCLUSIVE: INTRODUCING THE TIMEX SNOOPY SPACE TRAVELER MARLIN AUTOMATIC

It really shouldn’t be a surprise that Timex has a way of tapping into our collective nostalgia receptors in a way that few other brands can. They’ve shown over and over again in their recent releases that they have an innate understanding of how to reach into the past and make something old feel new again. The Q, their huge hit watch from earlier this year, made you long for the 1980s even if you didn’t personally experience them. The Marlin, which in many ways reignited Timex as something more than an afterthought among contemporary watch heads, was an extremely successful take on their classic 1950s dress watch, dripping with Mad Men style and charm. And their series of watches celebrating the 50th anniversary of the moon landing released earlier this year, with a certain iconic beagle on the dial, is another example of Timex showing up in an almost Forrest Gump-like way to make us think lovingly of the past. Their new Marlin, featuring that same beagle, feels like another well-executed play on our continued desire to commune with an earlier time.

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This Affordable, Automatic Timex Watch May Be the Brand’s Best Yet

“According to the brand, the new S1 Giorgio Galli Automatic watch is “the most ‘Timex’ Timex ever,” and we don’t disagree — given its specs and finishing, the value-to-price ratio is impressive, and that indeed is very “Timex.” The brand’s design director Giorgio Galli, who has given his name to the watch, apparently had carte blanche to make exactly what he wanted to, and it shows in a range of thoughtful details that only an experienced, watch-obsessed designer could have emphasized.”

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Timex Re-Released Their T80 Watch With a Pac-Man Twist

“What makes the T80 timepiece so successful is its versatility and spot-on timing for both trend and demand. Retro-style sneakers and activewear have made a major comeback, so it’s no surprise that ‘80s style (like broadened shoulders and relaxed tailoring) would make its way back into fashion, too. Seriously, if fanny packs can be trendy, the opportunities are endless, amirite?”

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