When we last looked at Marathon, I was quite impressed by their affordable and attractive Navigator watch. It was straightforward, simple, legible, lightweight…everything you want in a good day-to-day beater. But the Navigator is really only the tip of the iceberg of what Marathon has to offer. In fact, when a lot of people think of Marathon, they think of their tough-as-nails diver/SAR watches. These big, brutal, mil-spec watches in solid steel aren’t kidding around. They are known for their build quality, no-nonsense designs and rugged looks.
In somewhat of a surprising move, Marathon released a new entry to their diver line designed for those looking for a smaller option. The descriptively named “Diver’s Quartz Medium” takes the looks and build of it’s larger brethren, namely the 42mm TSAR, and reduces the package by 20%. The new size comes in at a surprising 36 x 43.5 x 12.5mm. Yup, a 36mm super-tough, mil-spec dive watch. While 36mm is more of a small than a medium (unless they have plans for something downright petite), it’s a welcome option for those with smaller wrists, or those who simply prefer a smaller watch, but want that aesthetic.
Case: Brushed Steel
Movement: High-Torque ETA F06 Quartz
Lume: Tritium Tubes
Water Res.: 300m
Dimensions: 36 x 43.5mm
Lug Width: 18mm
Crown: 5.5 x 3.8 mm
Weight: 70g (our measure on rubber)
Warranty: 1 year
Price: $495 + $180 for bracelet
Best of all, the reduction in scale does not amount to a reduction in build or toughness. This Marathon Diver’s Quartz Medium is a solid as they come. Nothing budges. There’s something about compact watches that almost seem more solid that similar large watches. Throw in a 30 ATM water resistance, screw down crown, sapphire crystal and tritium tubes, and you seriously cool, tough little watch.
It’s well detailed and finished too. The bezel, which stands 4mm tall and has the same deep grooved teeth as the big guys, is rigid with a crisp, snappy action. The Maraglow marker at 0/60 also glows very bright, brighter than the tritium tubes, though they last longer. The lugs are drilled, which I’m always glad to see. And it comes with a cool rubber strap that has partially cut holes, allowing you to size it specifically for your wrist, creating a very clean look.
That said, I also got to try the optional 18mm steel bracelet that can be picked up for an additional $180. Though a pricy accessory, it’s very well made, with cool details such as a US Great Seal engraving on the clasp, and adds to the overall look and feel tremendously. It gives it some weight, but more importantly some mass. On the wrist, the Diver’s Quartz Medium wears very nicely, but it is small for a diver. Other 36mm watches I have and am used to are vintage or dress, so having something that is small but chunky and aggressive takes some getting used to. The steel of the bracelet extended the watch a bit, making it look and feel larger. Basically, it does a good job of balancing everything out.
Another great option is to throw it on a NATO. I tried my trusty 18mm Olive Maratac, and it came together very nicely. The NATO also makes it wear a bit larger and look even more aggressive, bringing out the military elements over the dive elements.
Coming in at $495, the Marathon Diver’s Quartz Medium is priced logically for their catalogue, resting above their resin models and below their larger divers. It’s a bit pricy for a basic 3-hand quartz, but well-priced for a really well built diver. More importantly, it’s actually a unique offering amongst modern dive watches, giving a great option to people looking for a smaller option. Also it’s simple a good alternative for an easy to wear sport watch for general use, like the Navigator. While I’m still waiting for a metal one of those to be (re)released, the Medium will do the job.
by Zach Weiss
Nice watch would be much better if they made an automatic version, as someone with a smaller wrist I would definitely consider this watch as an option. Also I was expecting a video for this one =(.
Couldn’t agree more
They do. It’s called the GSAR. Has an ETA-2842, iirc.
Bought this watch w/the steel bracelet and really love it. I have an 8 inch wrist and it certainly isn’t overly diminutive. Its a refined TSAR that retains every measure of rugged, tool watch durability. It has nice wrist presence for those of us who aren’t looking for ‘tacticool’.
I second the call for an automatic movement. It would be a lifer for me if it had an ETA-2824.
A lume shot would be a nice addition…
I have one of these on order from marathon and am waiting for it to be delivered. I have a 6 inch wrist (I know, right?) and am not worried about the diameter of the watch, but the height. It says here that the thickness is 12.5mm and I’m hoping that won’t be too chunky. I’ve also ordered the Maratac Olive Drab NATO, as I think it looks really cool on this watch in the pictures.
I ended up picking a Claude Bernard aquarider 36mm. There are not many options for small divers out there. The watch is not bad but not in the same league as this marathon; it is half the price though.
I had a GSAR a few years back. The crown stripped out easily 2 different times, and the bezel broke. After sending it in for repairs 3 times within 1 year, they sent me a brand new one. So I sold it and bought a Seiko SKX-009J. The Seiko, while not as attractive or prestigious, is a much tougher watch overall. I’ve never had a problem with it. It’s freakin’ bulletproof.
But thanks to my GSA account, I did buy a Marathon SS Benrus Gen Purpose Field Watch last year and love it. This one is as tough as nails. After a few hours getting used to the small size anything bigger just doesn’t feel right. It’s my main watch now. Even a co-worker of mine liked it so much that I ordered him one too.
I really like your reviews, btw. Well done!
Great watch and review! The medium diver goes against trend for huge watches. We at Windycitywatchcollector.com have been supplying Marathon watches since 1996. This is probably the most popular steel watch outside the US.