FEATURE

Vintage Eye for the Modern Guy: The Timex M79 Automatic


It was about this time last year that budget-friendly Timex first unveiled its now-cult-classic Q Timex. That watch was an instant hit, with its “spirit of ‘79” style, vintage-inspired heritage, and — most importantly for many consumers— ultra-affordable price tag of only $179. Last week, Timex unveiled the latest addition to the Q Timex series, called the M79 Automatic. The new watch uses much of the design elements seen in the original vintage-inspired Q, but in a slightly different direction — using an automatic movement as opposed to a quartz one, an exhibition caseback, a slightly larger case to accommodate the larger mechanism, and a new color scheme.

The Timex M79 features a 40-mm stainless steel case with squared-off, beveled edges and contrasting brushed and polished finishing. On its side is a simple push/pull crown, while surrounding the dial is the unidirectional black-and-blue-sectioned “Batman” 60-minute bezel, made of aluminum with a black plastic ring underneath, raising the bezel and giving a bit more life to the steel case.

As with the first Q Timex, the aluminum bezel is a good aesthetic touch, and somewhat more useful than the one used for its predecessor, whose 12-hour GMT scale received criticism for not having an additional, dedicated GMT hand to accompany it. This 60-minute bezel, like the one on the original Q, uses a sliding rather than a clicking mechanism, which makes it much more prone to accidental movement and thus less reliable if you’re trying to keep track of time in another time zone. If this is not a concern of yours, and you like the watch purely for its stylish charm — as is likely the case with most buyers — then this becomes much less an issue.

On the black dial of the watch you’ll find a simple outer minute ring, with printed white circle indices and variously shaped hour markers. At the 3 o’clock position is a day/date indicator which is set by the crown, and fortunately the new movement in this model will allow for a quick setting of the date; the quartz mechanism of the Q Timex did not allow this, and was a cause for significant criticism of that watch.

Sweeping over the dial are lume-filled circle and sword hands for the hour and minutes, respectively, while a simple red pointer is used to count the seconds. At the top of the dial is a simple Timex corporate logo, while the lower sector of the watch features the script “Automatic” calling out its use of the mechanical movement (from which the watch draws the “M” in its “M79” name. This automatic movement inside is a very basic Miyota 8205, capable of approximately 40 hours of power reserve and displayed via an exhibition caseback.

The M79 Timex is currently out of stock via Timex’s online store, but is sure to become available and into select retailers worldwide very soon, priced at a very competitive $279 — just $100 more than the quartz-powered Q Timex.

As far as its vintage-influenced features, the new M79 continues the historical design influences seen in the original Q, but also like the Q finds modern updates in its colors, movement, material quality, and manufacturing. Among the similarities, we see a similar case design and overall dial configuration, as well as interesting nods to the past in the red seconds hands, and to more recent watch history with the “Batman” bezel. Among the differences we find, as in the Q, a majorly updated woven bracelet that avoids the uncomfortable hassles that can accompany vintage bracelets. Additionally, the color scheme of this version of the watch was never seen on a vintage edition, and this new model is quite larger, at 40 mm, than the smaller size seen in the late ‘70s and ‘80s. This size, as mentioned, is a product of the larger mechanical movement powering the watch, which itself is differentiated from the quartz mechanisms seen on the vintage editions of the Q (which, of course, certainly did not feature exhibition casebacks).

At its core, the new M79 Automatic represents a new shift in the neo-vintage trend, at least as far as Timex is concerned. The Q Timex already signaled, as the Timex Marlin did before it, the proliferation of vintage-inspired watch design to the mass market. The M79 Automatic indicates an additional expansion of this, with the brand now adding a more modern color scheme that more directly riffs off the designs presented in the contemporary Rolex GMT-Master II series, and further adding a viewable mechanical movement which adds an extra degree of charm for many enthusiasts. The M79 Automatic may actually be the first watch we have covered in the “Vintage Eye” series that opts to use an automatic movement in place of a vintage quartz mechanism, demonstrating the growing appeal of mechanical calibers in entry-level-priced watches.

Timex has always been a value-driven brand, and with its price point and economies of scale has long been able to produce a diverse variety of designs in a very short period of time. The latest M79 Automatic not only represents a growing shift in the vintage-look trend, but further is representative of Timex’s ability to capitalize upon its success. At its core, the new watch, like the Q Timex, continues to offer consumers a highly affordable model with distinct vintage inspirations, albeit now with more direct inspirations from modern models like the Rolex GMT-Master II “Batman.” Whether or not this model will receive as much attention as the initial quartz one remains to be seen, but with its initial release selling out within days it seems to be on a similar path.

For the most recent article in the “Vintage Eye” series, in which we discuss the Longines Heritage Classic Chronograph 1946 and the historical watch that inspired it, click here.

Caleb Anderson is a freelance writer with a primary focus on vintage watches. Since first discovering horology, he has garnered extensive knowledge in the field and spends much of his time sharing his opinions among other writers, collectors, and dealers. Currently located near New York City, he is a persistent student in all things historical, a writer on many topics, and a casual runner.

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