Timex Giorgio Galli S1 Automatic

12
1108

timex giorgio galli mugshot

The Giorgio Galli S1 Automatic is a non-sequitur. Timex, formerly US Time Corp., is an American brand with American style (or lack thereof, it you must). Giorgio Galli is Italian, the Chief Creative Director for the Timex Group. The best of both worlds or a design too far?

Timex states that “Milan-based design director Giorgio Galli knows what makes Timex tick better than anyone else.” Ouch, kind of a slap in the face to the people at the Connecticut headquarters of the company born as the Waterbury Clock Company.

What makes this Timex tick: a Japanese Miyota 9039 movement. Timex is somewhat notorious for not making movements available, at least for their quartz watches (as I learned when my Camper died). So this would be an improvement – if the guts needing replacement one day.

Suddenly, Timex isn’t ashamed of the movement. “TWENTY FOUR 24 JEWELS-4H” is spelled out around the case back. I don’t know if they’re counting the one on the dial.

Instead of bragging about 50m water resistance, the lower half of the dial features a little synthetic ruby. Isn’t that usually used in the movement? Doesn’t underwear go inside the pants? The reddish jewel on the navy background is a bit reminiscent of the inverted colors of a blue dot taillight, and those were an American thing.

Except for the misplaced bindi, the front view is pretty conventional. The skeletonized hands add a little flair. I can’t tell if the seconds indices are applied or sandwiched, but they are silver tone and look three dimensional. The crown looks like a clutch pack for some reason, but the sides are where things really get interesting.

The lugs are hollowed out to an extent that would make a Code 11.59 blush. Presumably these speed holes were not all scooped out as this 316L stainless case is metal-injection molding. “How Stuff Is Made” fans understand this process better than I do . . .

It involves shooting metal powder and some temporary carrier into a mold. Then the case goes in the oven to bake off the carrier and cure by almost melting. This is presumably a precision process so none come out burned or undercooked. The result is almost as good as solid billet, but cheaper to make tricky shapes. As a grain is visible, there is probably still some finishing done afterward.

It’s a four piece case. There’s a bezel and a case back, that’s two. I guess the skeletal lugs are just a trivet that holds the actual case. If so, the case insides is ribbed like a can of beans. Plus concentric score lines on the back that are not meant to look like a vinyl record. Lines, lines, everywhere lines, breaking up the scenery.

All this fanciness on the case and it gets a silicone rubber strap. The cross section is I-beam like. I suppose the intended illusion is that one is wearing two very thin watch bands atop one another and not one thicker one. I’d think that two delicate edges per side will likely wear quicker and become a giant dirt-catching groove, but I’m practical to a fault.

Nope, Timex knows that all these little nooks and crannies are crud-collectors, and the presentation box includes a little brush as usually found with an electric razor or hair clippers.

The face of the Timex Giorgio Galli S1 Automatic’s band is smooth, the back ribbed. Yes, the texture is all unseen; it’s there for another purpose. Nobody seems to want to talk about the great lengths gone to in order to minimize the area of the band contacting the skin. Impressive, probably effective, but why not use something that breathes better instead?

They do have those quick-release spring bars – perhaps the greatest invention of the millennium. Even better, these are blocky triggers, not fingernail-chipping little round nubs. Have you noticed that every time they give you those quick release spring bars the brand sells extra bands too?

Same here, and only $75 in your choice of black, brown, bland tan or bright blue. Maybe it’s better than the sub-$20 ones you can buy all day long in a rainbow of colors. Who knows?

Keepers are a necessary evil. Timex Giorgio Galli has done away with them. Technically, the back of the buckle is a keeper. Don’t think about how much the band must bend to go through.

That big sexy slit in the back of the band isn’t just for showing skin. It’s the button hole for the button. They call it a metal rivet but that’s silly. This molded-in piece required no deformation. It’s a button for buttoning down the loose end.

Exhibitionist case back as legally mandated by the Automatic Movement Transparency Act of 2018. They paid Miyota for that “rotor specially engraved for Timex” so you’re going to see it. The Skeletor cut-out motif makes it to the rotor as well. Giorgio Galli loves Swiss-cheesing things. It’s a holey watch.

The Timex Giorgio Galli S1 Automatic’s tag line is “The most ‘Timex’ Timex ever.” But they took something Timex-y and scooped out metal. So it’s actually less Timex. It’s not a pastiche. It’s a break with tradition. An avant-garde Italian-style job with a Japanese movement is not what people think of as a Timex. They must know that, and they should admit it. Timex wants to reinvent themselves without saying that they want a revolution, and that’s not alright.

12 COMMENTS

  1. I dunno. With the exception of the questionable location of that jewel on the dial face, this watch looks like a million that have come before it. At least the Miyota 9039 should offer decades of reliable service, assuming the rest of the watch holds up. I don’t see a revolution – or even an attempted revolution – here. But ultra-traditional horologists might.

    • At least in my lifetime, analog Timex watches have had pretty conventional cases with almost no adornment. Of course they were plated brass until some point in the last decade too, but I won’t bemoan material improvements. The Timex DNA here is so questionable that I want Maury Povich to have it tested.
      It’s no secret that Timex is trying to go upmarket, and it’s admittedly a tricky move to take a brand known as much for low cost as for taking a licking and keeping on ticking.

  2. $450 is a lot of money for a watch that does not even have the decency to have a sapphire crystal.

    The people that make Miyota movements have a similar watch (Citizen ref NH7500-53A), except with a solid link bracelet and sapphire crystal, that sells for about $150.

  3. Timex doesn’t seem to know that sapphire crystals exist, or they don’t have a connection or something. Every Kickstarter microbrand* and cheap Chinese automatic boasts them but I can’t find a single Timex with sapphire. Their American Documents supposedly used Gorilla glass or something because of the domestic brag.

    I’m not sure what the economics on all the case flourishes (that you can’t see from the front) are. Presumably the amortized cost of this metal injection molding is less than CNC machining billet or why bother?

    * Like clockwork, my inbox gets a message from Dufrane about a watch going on discount from $399 bearing a text box reading “The Waterloo uses genuine sapphire crystal, not the cheap mineral glass.”

    • The crystals on Timex watches are usually the final deal breaker. I get that “acrylic” is “retro”, but if I want something that “authentic”, I’ll just look for a vintage Timex on eBay.

      • My understanding is that it’s mineral crystal, not that they are very forthcoming about it. I’ll credit them with at least having a box domed crystal. But yes, scratched mineral glass is trash. At least you can polish acrylic.

        • Yeah, Hodinkee had an interesting article about the merits of acrylic crystals. When they aren’t scuffed or scratched they are “invisible”, and scratches and scuffs (whether buffed out or left as is) can give a watch a certain patina that sapphire doesn’t have.

  4. As the resident Italian of this blog, I can only say “meh”. This is not Timex. It is like Timex has asked someone to make something more upscale, but the budget was too low. I find it wrong on several levels – design-wise, product-wise, marketing-wise, brand-wise.

  5. This post really explains all the hating on watches costing more than $14 (ok … maybe 14,000 but who’s counting).
    Change the theme to more actively promote watches for people who can’t afford a $100 Xiaomi or Fitbit. Write these … reviews (?). Profit.

    • I’ll have you know that my next review watch cost $14.88, thank you very much. Like the Code 11.59, I don’t hate the Giorgio Galli S1. I just don’t really care much about it at all. It’s been out for a while and I didn’t even know it. I’m actually taking a brand I generally am very fond of to task here. They are sort of on the right path with their reissues despite some issues with growing into the expectations of slightly higher price points.

      The quip I want to use is akin to what was said about the first generation Lexus IS300 sport sedan, that it was a great car but a terrible Lexus. The watch would be unobjectionable were it from some microbrand, but it reaches too far for what anybody thinks of as a Timex. Even that would be tolerable if they admitted that it was an ambitious exotic concept of future premium Timex. Just my opinion, but they bungled this in several ways.

      I think I see what they are trying to do, and the problem may be that they have a late start and are trying to move too fast. Moving upmarket is a gradual process that takes many years and Timex is, understandably, a little too impatient.

      I have no idea why you think the readership is destitute, but if any readers are cheap or of modest means, submit articles because that’s a perspective that I want to read! I’ll let the publisher address the claims of profitability, but I think it’s safe to say that if the intent is selling out, we are all abject failures.

  6. As a person who actually owns an S1 I’ll simply say it is an enjoyable watch to wear. I have several watches this is not one that I wear daily tho I do wear it a couple of times a month. My daily watch is a Seamaster ref2531.80.

    As for the jewel on the dial it is functional, it is one of the balance wheel jewels.

    As for the movement, it is decent, tho as with all lower end Miyota Movements the Rotor is a bit noisy.

    My Hamilton Khaki cost less and has a much quieter movement.

    Regardless I like how the watch looks, I did change to a Gray sailcloth strap with a deployment buckle. Not that I didn’t like the strap it came with I just prefer to keep the original straps pristine.

    Ultimately I do not buy watches for brand but for looks and I think the S1 looks great.

    • Thanks for the feedback. Experience beats opinion. The watch is surely attractive and interesting, but where it falls in the Timex lineup is awkward. It’s trying to straddle what Timex was and is with what want it to be next. My opinion is that you either evolve gradually or just go all out with a new style, and this is going halfway. I may be very wrong and it may age well and make perfect sense in hindsight.

Leave a Reply