The watch: The Timex M79 with a red-and-black “Coke” bezel.
The single best thing about this watch: The price tag—at only $279, this is one of most affordable automatic movement watches you’ll find.
The backstory: Timex’s raison d’être is making affordable starter watches, and the brand plays that role better than anyone else on the market. The original Q model, the predecessor to this M79, was a standard-bearer for affordable, quartz-powered watches when it was introduced in the ‘70s. And while quartz watches are generally looked down upon by modern collectors, who prize more-prestigious timepieces with mechanical movements, they were once so hot that Timex felt compelled to stamp a big “Q” on the dial. While quartz has fallen out of fashion, the Q watch absolutely has not. When Timex reissued the piece with a two-tone red-and-blue “Pepsi” bezel in 2019, it sold out immediately and became a cult favorite piece.
The M79 is the Q’s slightly more grown up brother, replacing the quartz movement with a mechanical one. (That’s what the “M” in the name stands for; “79” is a reference to the year the Q debuted.) The two watches flip the typical process of design inspiration. Usually, you’d see a quartz movement popped into a super-popular mechanical watch to shave some dollars off the price. Timex execs, meanwhile, took a look at the massively popular Q and figured they were leaving a couple of bucks on the table, adding a mechanical movement to goose things up. It’s a nice touch that doesn’t add much to the basement-level pricing of the Q. For a mechanical watch, $279 is an absolute steal.
This watch matters in the world of watches because: Nearly every iteration of the M79 is watch-collector catnip. And this one has about everything the discerning watch fan could want: the watch comes with a stainless steel case and matching bracelet. Despite the two-tone bezel we typically associate with a dual-time zone GMT, the M79 watch is actually a diver’s style watch (it can go as deep as 50 meters underwater). The watch also borrows beloved elements from Rolex: the black-and-red bezel is a clear nod to the “Coke” style GMT-Master, while the hour-hand design with a “T” is the smudged-glasses equivalent of the Crown’s Mercedes-style hour hand. The M79 isn’t necessarily a replacement for Rolex customers tired of sitting on a waitlist—but is a perfect alternative for those without Rolex-level money.
Recommended if you like: deals; the phrase “bang for your buck;” spot-the-differences games; putting money into your 401k.
Where and when to buy it: The Timex M79 will go on sale at Timex’s website on Tuesday, March 16.