Review: Timex Giorgio Galli S1 Automatic

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When you hear someone describe a watch with hollowed lugs, an injection-molded case, and a gem set in the dial, something haute undoubtedly comes to mind. Perhaps the last brand you’d consider having these cues is Timex, but here we are with the S1, arguably Timex’s most interesting watch in recent years. 

There’s no denying that Timex has recently had a couple of strong years, fueled in part by fan-favorite iterations of the Marlin, Q, and other flagship lines. In fact, 2019 was an incredibly good year for Timex (we even discussed it in episode 111 of The Worn & Wound Podcast), and the S1, announced in late 2019, was in some ways a capstone for the year and the first model in a new series that commemorates Timex’s work with Timex Group’s Design Director, Giorgio Galli. To that end, the S1 is unlike any Timex you have seen before. It’s decidedly modern, and it’s a leap forward in terms of design, finish, and overall execution.

While the S1 is a design that drastically differs from the Timex back catalog, it manages to stay true to the brand’s design roots, and it’s an interesting watch with a lot to break down. But first, the specs. 

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$450

Review: Timex Giorgio Galli S1 Automatic

Case
Stainless steel
Movement
Miyota 9039
Dial
Silver domed
Lume
Yes
Lens
Domed K1 Hardened IGN/A3 Glass
Strap
Synthetic rubber
Water Resistance
50m
Dimensions
41mm x 49.75mm
Thickness
11mm
Lug Width
20mm
Crown
Push/pull
Warranty
Yes
Price
$450

Case

From the top-down, the case isn’t anything too crazy. It looks like your standard circular watch case with a brushed bezel surrounding the dial and a crown at 3:00. The only hint from the top-down that something exciting is going on is the textured crown. Large cog-like teeth with smaller textured grooves run around the circumference of the crown making it both easy to grip and fun to look at.

But flip the S1 to its side, and everything changes. You’ll immediately notice that the brushed outer mid-case is hollowed out and highly polished on the inside edges, and there’s a ridged inner mid-case that houses the internals. Visually, it’s a lot to take in, but it’s the different finishing techniques on the steel that keep things somewhat reserved. After some digging through the product page, I learned that Timex used a process called metal injection molding to achieve the multi-component case.

In profile, the case comes to life. .

Metal injection molding is a process by which the manufacturer turns metal into a fine powder, mixes it with a binding agent, and injects it into a mold in the shape of the case component. Intense heat then brings it all together, and this process allows for a high volume of small, yet complex parts to be made without the serious machine time that a CNC-milled case would usually take. It helps explain how Timex was able to achieve such an interesting looking and complex case design for a watch that comes in under $500.

In this case, a picture really does tell a thousand words. I could go on for a while about each individual surface on the case, but just blow up some of the photos below and take it all in.

What stands out the most to me is the balance of the design. It’s nearly symmetrical on the top and bottom — the crystal and bezel up top match the display caseback and its own sloping bezel. And the finishing is several steps above what you’d get from one of Timex’s more affordable options, which helps justify the higher price tag of the S1. Classic design with future-forward tweaks seems to be what Galli was going for, and he nailed it on the case.

Dial and Hands

The dial of the S1 has a lot to do with keeping it rooted in classic Timex design language. Silvery colored, gently domed, and featuring a subtle radial sunburst pattern, the dial really pops on the wrist. There’s a Timex logo at 12:00, which is small and subdued. This logo is balanced by a small red synthetic ruby set into the dial at the midway point between 6:00 and the center of the dial. It’s a small touch that adds some interesting visual appeal to an otherwise classic dial.

A set of skeletonized hands point to precision-cut and polished, applied indices. The hands are a dark-gray metal with a small plot of lume at the end of each one. A slim, tapered seconds hand is also present. While all three hands are brushed, the seconds hand shows it off the best.

A well-balanced dial.
Attractive design continuity from the hands to the indices.

Each applied index has a small plot of lume on the outer edge. While the application of lume does help to see in the dark, it’s not particularly long-lasting or generously applied. I wouldn’t expect a dressier watch like the S1 to have a crazy amount of lume, so the decision makes perfect sense here.

Overall, the dial is elegant and refined, the contrasting hands make it easy to read, and the multi-faceted applied indices and cut-through minute markings make it all the more interesting in the metal.

Movement

Beating away inside the S1 is a Miyota 9039 automatic movement. It’s a workhorse, not unlike the 9015, but without the date complication, so there’s no phantom date. It runs at 28,800 bph, sweeping the seconds hand smoothly around the dial. The 9039 also hacks and hand-winds.

The 9039 caliber is decently decorated, with deep striping across the plates contrasted against blasted surfaces that together give this one a dressed-up industrial look.

Overall it’s a solid movement, and if you’ve ever had a watch with a 9015, you know what to expect here. There’s one thing that bugged me about the movement, though. I’m not 100% sure if it’s the movement itself or the hollowed out case design acting as an echo chamber, but the sound of the rotor spinning is audible. If you’re in a quiet(ish) room and you move your arm, don’t be surprised if you hear the noisy whirr of the rotor doing its thing. And it’s not just me — my wife and dog both looked for the source of the noise on a few occasions.

Strap and Wearability

Straps have a lot to do with how the watch wears, and the strap on the S1 continues with the retro-futuristic theme of the watch. Just by looks, you’d think this would ship on some sort of leather strap, but Timex opted for something a little different. On the wrist, the supplied rubber strap is very comfortable thanks to its softness and flexibility. The underside of the strap is partially recessed with a ridged pattern running down the length of the strap. This keeps your wrist from overheating and helps water drain should you get the strap wet. The rounded rectangular buckle is rendered in brushed steel and adds a needed touch of class to the rubber strap.

Measuring in at 41mm, the stainless steel, injection-molded case wears on the larger side of that number. The dial is large and a slim bezel makes for some pretty wide open spaces.

Another interesting design feature is the riveted strap keeper that’s used in lieu of traditional floating keepers. I get heavy Apple Watch vibes from the rivet, but it’s used to keep the excess strap under control, whereas on the Apple Watch, the rivet is what keeps the strap closed. The small protrusion locks into a channel on the opposite side of the strap and does a great job of keeping things neat and tidy. Mirroring the case design, there’s also a channel running down the side of the strap that leads into the hollowed sides of the case. The S1 would also work well on a leather strap, and the included rubber one is extra easy to swap out thanks to a pair of quick release spring bars integrated into the strap.

My only gripe here is the size, and it’s really just how that size works on me. At 41mm with a wide-open dial, it does look rather large on my 6.75” wrist, but it’s not unwearable by any means. For me, the dressier style would work even better in a sub-40mm size (38mm would be perfect). That said, the size isn’t a deal breaker, and the watch doesn’t look strangely proportioned, nor is it upsized in a way that ruins the design.

Conclusion

Timex has been on a roll with their hand-wound Marlins, American-made Documents Series, fun military reissues, and of course the return of the iconic Q from the 1970s. To me, the S1 continues that hot streak. $450 is arguably a tough price point for Timex because the brand generally operates at a much lower price, and it opens them up to some seriously cool competition. But I believe the S1’s price is a reasonable ask given the amount of thought put into the design and the execution and finish of the case. In my time with it, the S1 has proven itself a fun to wear watch, with enough versatility to make it a serious contender. Timex

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Ed is a Long Island-based writer and photographer with an affinity for watches, fountain pens, EDC gear, and a great cup of coffee. He’s always looking for the best gear for the job—whether it be new watch, pen, flashlight, knife, or wallet. Ed enjoys writing because it’s an awesome (and fulfilling) way to interact with those who share the same interests.