Hands-On: The Budget-Friendly And Tough Timex Expedition North In Titanium Conquers The Subarctic
Am I exaggerating from the start with such a bold claim? Maybe not, as it turns out, and as for conquering the subarctic, that’s easy for me living in Norway…or is it? Unlike fellow The Grey Nato podcast listener and managing editor Nacho, I’m not the most outdoorsy type. But the light and robust Timex Expedition North coaxed me into the harsh subzero woods.
We live in an era of eroding watch etiquette, where you’ll see big 45mm pilot’s or diver’s watches with sleek suits. Sure, you might not use this fabric-strap field watch with a pinstriped business suit, but on the other hand, you don’t need to love the outdoors. A good field watch riffs on many categories, including pilot’s watches, and some have dive-ready 200m depth ratings too. Is this proper GADA material? Maybe. “But Thor,” I hear you ask, “why a Timex?”
Timex Expedition North — First impressions of a friendly, tough guy
It’s easy to explain why. This is simply a watch that I’ve added to a few best-of lists and wanted a closer look at. On paper, the Expedition North 41mm represents legit good value as a watch, full stop. That’s true whether you view it as a great everyday “beater” (a word I don’t like as all watches deserve love) or a dependable buddy on a trek through the woods After all, it’s a field watch.
It’s also got the makings of a great watch for a backpacking holiday through wilder terrain and less salubrious areas where an expensive watch would attract the wrong kind of attraction. The Expedition North 41mm has a tough exterior, but it is a big softie at close quarters. Well, not quite, but even at 45mm across including the crown and its functionally beefy guards, it is a comfy beast. The natural softness that comes from bead blasting has a lot to do with it, as does its light 62g total weight.
Will the Timex Expedition North make me love titanium watches?
This story is about a good watch for less than €400 that happens to be made from titanium. I have always been torn about my perception of this lightweight metal. That’s because a weighty watch signals quality, right? For me, that changed with the Seiko Shogun, a titanium watch that I had two of at one time and now miss quite a lot. Your senses will tell you it’s not as sturdy as steel, but live with it for a few days, and the weight (or lack thereof) will make you understand.
My smallest, thinnest watch, the Omega Constellation ’95, with its sub-10mm thickness and 35mm diameter, weighs 50% more at 97g (on a bracelet). That makes this big tool watch with its softly rounded corners feel dainty. Sure, I would love the angles on the case to be a bit more defined, but this is all about ease of use and comfort. It makes sense of titanium, which might scratch more easily than steel, but this is a tool watch, right?
Is it a field watch or perhaps a pilot’s tool watch?
“Field watch” might be a term for the history books as watches nowadays often straddle a category or three. And that’s also the case with the Timex Expedition North. Too many field watches today try to channel the OG Rolex Explorer vibes, but this is 2023, not the sweet ’60s. This resolutely modern take on the genre makes the gray monochrome of the Timex stand out, and I appreciate the sustainability thoughts behind the fabric strap made of recycled fishing nets. This strap is also rather comfortable and matches the green tinge of the Super-LumiNova.
The textured dial has raised, pressed numerals and hour markers. They feature a decent amount of lume, lasting the night in many cases. The date window is useful and looks almost ashamedly small, with a neat lume dot beside it instead of a 3. But, and here’s the kicker, with its size and those big, blunt hands, there’s a distinct military pilot’s vibe going on. And that is a pretty cool bonus for less than €400 total. And that includes a branded, bead-blasted buckle.
A fair-budgeted conclusion
At €349, this 41mm automatic represents a big value proposition as a mechanical watch. With this price, the Timex Expedition North in titanium beats microbrands like Zelos and feels pretty bulletproof. Perhaps this is a perfect example of the classic Timex advertisement quote, “It takes a licking and keeps on ticking.” It has the right attitude and proper box-ticking abilities if I sum up the specs. A good-quality and sturdy strap, a well-made ergonomic case, and a cheap-to-service/replace Miyota 8215 movement. Add details like decent lume, the feeling of a crossover pilot’s watch, 200m water resistance, and a sapphire crystal, and it’s almost mic-drop time. Great work, Timex. This is a spectacular entry-level tool watch for many. And for seasoned pros, maybe it’s the new travel buddy you’ve looked for after losing that G-Shock in the Ecuadorian rainforest. You can pick one up from Timex’s online shop here.
But Fratelli, do you still believe that field watches should be pure in an Explorer-homage-ish form, or are we ready for modern interpretations like this 41mm Timex? Perhaps the term needs to go the way of the dodo. Let me know in the comments.