I think at some point, just about everyone has owned a Timex. And there’s good reason for it – they’re simple watches, and just quietly go about their job. Most of the time, though, those have been quartz, and may not stir the emotions quite as much. I’d say their designs have really been churning along as of late, and there’s an argument to be made that the Timex Marlin Automatic California is a great “first automatic” watch.

Timex Marlin Automatic California

Applied Numerals

Of course, that’s a pretty bold claim. In the past, our default recommendation for someone looking to get an everyday automatic has been the Seiko Orange Monster. But what if dive watches aren’t your thing, and you want something a bit subtler, a bit more vintage looking? That’s where the Timex Marlin Automatic California comes into the picture. For starters, you do have that nouveau vintage look, with the champagne-toned dial and raised, applied numerals. Then they mix things up.

Timex Marlin Automatic California

I mean, it’s right in the name – Timex Marlin Automatic California. That means you’ve got the California dial, with the Roman numerals up top, and Arabic numerals along the bottom. This is a dial style more commonly associated with Panerai and Rolex, but it works well here, giving a bit of interest to an otherwise simple dial. Then again, the shadows cast by the applied indices are pretty swell as well.

Timex Marlin Automatic California


Spinning over all of that you’ve got simple dagger hands that are, unfortunately, not lumed. The white paint filling the hands does make it easy to read the time in the daylight, but only if there had been some blue or green hue coming out of it when the lights went down…. Driving those hands around you’ve got a 21-jewel automatic movement with a 40-hour power reserve. Nothing to get the movement geeks excited about, but it gets the job done and – again – makes for something a first-time automatic watch buyer would look for.

Timex Marlin Automatic California


On top the of the Timex Marlin Automatic California, you’ve got a domed acrylic crystal. The dome gives that vintage feel, and really, the acrylic feels correct as well. Sure, we might pine for a sapphire crystal here, but there are pricepoints to consider. Everything is paired to a rather nice leather strap with quick-release spring bars, another nod to first-time watch buyers. That said, I rather like the quick change bars, as it makes things a breeze.

Timex Marlin Automatic California


At the end of the day, for all it’s simplicity, there’s really a lot to like about the Timex Marlin Automatic California. I really do think it deserves consideration for someone who’s getting their first nicer (perhaps non-digital) watch that’s marking a turning point in their lives, without wanting to break the bank. Frankly, if this was the watch my boss had bought me when I graduated high school, I would have been quite pleased. As such, I think many folks would enjoy it, especially if they’re starting to dig into what makes a mechanical different than a quartz watch.

Timex Marlin Automatic California


You can pick up your own Timex Marlin Automatic California for a quite-economical $249 direct from Timex. And if this dial isn’t for you, I’d suggest you look across the rest of the Marlin lineup, as there are quite a number of nice options (some even with the iconic Snoopy) out there. timex.com

Timex Marlin Automatic California

Review Summary

  • Brand & Model: Timex Marlin Automatic California
  • Price: $249
  • Who we think it might be for: This is the watch that you get for someone who’s marked a big – but early – milestone (say, graduating high school or college) looking for a more “grown up” watch
  • Would I buy one for myself based on what I’ve seen?: I’m past those early milestones now, but this is a solid everyday sort of a watch
  • If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: Put luminous paint on those hands!
  • What spoke to me the most about this watch: It’s about the small details in an overall look – in this case, those applied indices.

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Tech Specs from Timex

  • Case Width: 40 mm
  • Case Material: Stainless Steel
  • Band Color: Brown
  • Buckle/Clasp: Buckle
  • Case Color: Stainless Steel
  • Case Finish: Polished
  • Case Shape: Round
  • Case Size: Full Size
  • Crystal/Lens: Acrylic
  • Dial Color: Natural
  • Dial Markings: Other
  • Water Resistance: 50 meters
  • Case Height: 13 mm
  • Strap and Lug Width: 20 mm
  • Attachment Hardware Color: Stainless Steel

ByPatrick Kansa

A big data developer and leader with a penchant for gadgets, books, watches and beverages. You can find my work on WristWatchReview, Knapsack.News, and Slushpile. If you're on Twitter and/or Instagram, you'll find me there as @PatrickWatches.

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