In the middle of the 20th century, an icon appeared. By turns playful and pensive, charming and cool, this character came to define a certain chic insouciance. If the vibe of the century’s halves could neatly be divided between distinguished elegance (as exemplified by, say, Duke Ellington) and ornery irreverence (think Miles Davis), this character somehow bridged the two. In our current polarizing times, he now seems like a unifier between young and old, rebel and establishmentarian, classic and hip. We’re talking, of course, about Snoopy—Charlie Brown’s pet beagle from Charles M. Schultz’s beloved Peanuts comic strip—who debuted in newspapers across America in October of 1950.
Not long afterward, another icon appeared. This beacon similarly bridged elegance and irreverence, the classic and the modern. One could imagine it on the wrists of a new-school iconoclast like Don Draper, or on a man of an earlier generation (Roger Sterling?). Similarly charming, and similarly a unifier among tastes, this icon is the Timex Marlin, a definitive mid century timepiece. As the rift between maximalist bling and refined understatement continues to grow, it’s a refreshing reminder that one watch can appeal to a variety of tastes—and with a price point accessible to nearly all.
Now, both icons are working together for the first time. The new Timex Marlin Automatic Snoopy Edition leads a bumper crop of character watches, epitomizing that 21st-century credo of pairing high and low. As ever, the key here is subtlety, a mischievous touch for those who take a second look at their wrist.
But let’s start with the Marlin itself, which was reintroduced in 2017 after lying mostly dormant in the Timex archives. That piece was nearly identical to the original, with a slight size (34 mm) and hand-wound mechanical movement. The relaunch was something of a phenomenon, receiving fawning coverage in the press. Timex’s first run quickly sold out, and Marlins began popping up on eBay for double the retail price. It’s easy to see why: Unlike many reissues, the new Marlin gained nothing in translation between 1950 and 2017, and lost only the phrase “waterproof” from its dial. (The reasons for this were legal and aesthetic—today, companies are required by law to label watches as “water resistant,” a phrase that’s much less easy on the eyes.) Still, were you line up a vintage Marlin next to the newer one, a neophyte would be hard-pressed to identify which is which.
This latest version represents a doubling down on the Marlin’s surprise success. It boasts a new, self-winding automatic movement and larger case (now 40 mm), clearing space both for Snoopy and an even more understated look and feel. (The sinewy numerals of the 2017 iteration are no more…)The Snoopy iteration pictured here still pays homage to Timex’s history. After all, the brand evolved from the Ingersoll Watch Company, which effectively invented character watches during the 1930s when it teamed up with Walt Disney to produce the famous Mickey watch. The style’s influence shows no sign of waning, as you can see. Here, the famed Peanuts pup wears his signature Flying Ace guise, based on British WWI pilots. (Appropriate enough, as this watch was released on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the war’s end.) Presuming this Marlin is as successful as the last one—and we see no reason why it won’t be—perhaps Timex could reel in a Joe Cool Marlin next?
Photos courtesy of Doug Young.