Wristwatch design progressed leaps and bounds over the course of the 20th century. Starting as little more than glorified pocket watches, modified with welded strap lugs or wire caging, wrist watches owe a lot of their development to military needs during the first World War and the quieter years that followed. It’s thought that the inspiration for this new watch, our Marlin California Automatic, can be traced directly back to some of the first wristwatches designed and produced for the Italian navy.
First appearing on a smattering of Swiss watches in the early 1930s, what we now refer to as the “California dial” is a layout you’ll find on watches both vintage and modern. There are a few predominant theories about exactly where the design came from, however, as well as how it got the name.
- Watches with this dial design sold really well in California, for reasons unknown.
- Watch dealers in California became known around the globe for hunting down these distinctive watches, and more were bought and sold there than anywhere else.
- A watch shop in Melrose, CA has specialized in refinishing these kinds of dials since the 1970s; with no manufacturer-provided moniker for this kind of dial layout, customers started using the “California” nickname… and it stuck.
While we lean toward the third possibility as most likely, the mystery is part of the fun — most watch enthusiasts will agree with that. And no matter what the origin might be for this striking design, it looks mighty fine on our Marlin Automatic.
The dial is fresh and exciting, but our new Marlin California Automatic packs the same features our fans already love and expect from us — a 40mm case in stainless steel, a natural leather strap, a domed vintage-inspired crystal and a 21-jewel automatic movement that keeps time as long as you keep wearing it. With a 40-hour power reserve and a solid presence on the wrist, this new iteration of our modern classic delivers throwback style in a package you can rely on — one that holds up to the Timex reputation.