As any watch nerd knows, TImex is one of those brands that reliably drops fun, unexpected and altogether affordable watches on a regular basis. The last time we brought them up was when we had a hands-on with the Expedition Military Field, which to this day offers perhaps the best style:price ratio out there. Stepping up quite a bit in price for Timex, though still in the very affordable range in terms of watches, is the Intelligent Quartz series. These watches are particularly cool as they offer interesting functionality, from altimeters to compasses to retrograde chronographs, and still have pretty decent looks. For those who remember the now defunct Timex TX line of higher priced watches, these watches might seem familiar, as they appear to be recycling/re-imagining those movements at a lower price point.
Timex recently, and quietly, released a cool addition to the Intelligent Quartz series with the Linear Chronograph line. These watches take a different approach to displaying the chronograph function of the watch that is altogether unique. Gone is the typical bi or tri-compax layout of circular sub-dials. Instead, as the name implies, there is a linear display implemented. Just off of 9 is the fairly strange 30-minute totalizer, that displays the elapsed minutes in a linear scale. When the small needle hand reaches 30, in retrograde fashion, it snaps back to zero. While I wish this had been the seconds display for amusement purposes, and it doesn’t really increase legibility or precision, it is indeed a novel and enjoyable display.
Equally bizarre, at 4.5 is a dual purpose fan-shaped retrograde sub-dial that displays 24-hr time on its outer index and the elapsed hours, up to 4, on its inner index. While 4 is a strange and low number, once again, the implementation is unique. The chronograph seconds hand is about the central axis and is a fourth hand, rather than a dual function central seconds. Perhaps the most functional feature of the watch, the chronograph seconds actually ticks 5 times/second, increasing both the precision and the smoothness of the sweep.
The resultant dials are asymmetrical and a bit jarring, but in a way that makes the watches all the more curious. Amplifying the odd-factor is strange date window location, at 2.5. Though totally legible, there is something very peculiar about the date being above 3, yet not at 12, especially since it is angled.
There are currently two different styles of the Linear Chronograph available, both in multiple color ways. First is sort of a play on a pilot/aviator watch, with a numerical index and roman sword hands. Though this dial takes a straight forward approach (as much as possible with the odd sub-dials) there is some interesting detail and texture that adds some character. The variety with cream colored lume markers in a black IP case has a faux-vintage quality that is quite appealing. The 44mm cases on these have a classic design that is made more interesting by using elongated chrono pushers. Pick one of these up for $195
Taking the watch in a different direction, the other style has a multi-level structure and futuristic by-way-of Blade Runner design. The dial drops the numerals for applied markers and has an abundance of texture. The two-tier design has a lower level with concentric-circular graining radiating out of the center. The upper level, which has a nicely proportioned asymmetry unto itself, then has linear graining. The top layer also gives the chronograph minutes a floating look by blocking the slot in which it slides, and has a double aperture for the 24-hr/chrono-hour totalizer, which cleans things up a bit. The massive 47mm case on this one has more aggressive lines, crown guards and an external tachymeter bezel. This model runs $225 – $250 w/ bracelet
Unfortunately, we’ve yet to have a chance to play with these ourselves, so we can’t speak to their build quality, but we would assume it’s on par with Timex’s more rugged watches. So, if you’re looking for something a bit different and interesting that isn’t too bad on the wallet, the Timex Linear Chronographs are worth consideration. I personally find the more aggressive and unique design of the second version mentioned to be quite appealing, though I wish they could scale the whole thing down to 40mm.