I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that in America, Timex is as well-known as Rolex. Certainly, for a brand that has never had the global reach of the Crown, Timex has established a remarkable level of brand recognition. The nearly 100-year-old Connecticut-based brand survived the quartz crisis by pivoting fully to the technology. Until recently, affordable quartz has been its milieu. About 10 years ago, though, Timex bought the design firm of Giorgio Galli and appointed him head of its own design department, which it relocated to Milan.
Over that decade, Timex started becoming cool [read: acceptable] in the eyes of the watch cognoscenti. This culminated in the brand’s collaboration with menswear designer Todd Snyder in 2017 and its own Marlin release a year later. Then came the Timex Q series, which continues to revisit some of the brand’s more exciting vintage designs. The Timex Giorgio Galli S1 as a natural progression as Timex seeks to establish itself as more than a maker of cheap watches.
On the Wrist
The Timex Giorgio Galli S1 is an unmistakable dress watch. This was true of the original S1, which came in a 41mm case, and even more so of the new 38mm model at hand. While the rubber does a halfway-decent job of making it a bit edgier, the dial and silhouette are obstacles that a bit of silicone can’t overcome. Pair this with leather and be done with it. The deep sunburst blue of the dial plays with the light beautifully, as do the applied markers. The inclusion of lume is an odd choice for the style—if not for the market—but is by no means disruptive.
If there’s a prettier case available for under $500, go ahead and let me know, because I haven’t found it. The Galli S1 in its new 38mm case sits perfectly on the wrist, with the curved lugs and rubber strap allowing for excellent wrist conformity. With the unique design and solid (though not exemplary) finishing, the S1 is just as enjoyable as ornamentation as it is as a watch. While my collection is currently lacking a watch with any semblance of a hollowed case/lugs, I’m a huge fan of the look; it provides a much-needed diversion from today’s typical slab-and-chamfer design.
The Galli S1 features a resplendent blue dial rendered with a sunburst finish. The dial’s design is rather subdued, but upon closer inspection reveals some unique details.
While I may not like the addition of lume, the split plots on the hands are well done, and the alignment of the minute hand’s break with the slope of the markers is yet another sign of the attention to detail paid in designing this watch. The brushed hands and applied markers complement each other nicely, but the most unique aspect here is the cutout minute markers. Seemingly lasered from the dial, they don’t appear to have anything under them other than the movement’s baseplate—this isn’t a sandwich dial, just a novel way to create minute markers and a bit of depth.
But here’s something you haven’t seen before: instead of gimmicky “open heart” dial showing the balance or some arbitrary moving part, Galli opted to put a decorative jewel on the dial as a reminder that the Timex Galli S1 is mechanical, not the typical quartz seen from the brand. Apparently, the concept was suggested to Galli by A Blog to Watch Founder Ariel Adams.
The lume on the Galli S1 is an unimpressive as you might expect. Never mind that it’s wholly unnecessary on such a watch, lacking as it does any functionality that might necessitate it. Even accepting that some people might desire on every watch the ability to tell time in the dark, the lume doesn’t shine very brightly or for very long.
Case and Bracelet
The case of the Timex Giorgio Galli S1 is a stunning achievement. Case’s this design-forward are rare under $1000, much less under $500. The cutout case, with hollowed lugs is almost entirely brushed, save for a chamfer here and there and the flat rise of the fixed bezel. The interior case band is marked with striations, adding a bit of texture. That’s echoed in the ridging of the crown, which is slightly undersized but adequately operable.
The striation pattern continues on the see-through case back, which has more specs than I’ve ever seen, including the rate of the movement, which is a new one for me. Now, we don’t usually talk about movements here, but when Timex—the Kings of Quartz—put an automatic movement not just in a watch, but on display, it’s worth noting. This isn’t some bottom shelf throwaway mechanical movement, but instead the reliable Miyota 9039, one of the most popular Japanese movements on the market.
While I’d likely swap the strap for something a bit dressier, the silicone strap included is no generic offering. At 18mm, the Galli’s lugs for most will mean sticking with the included strap or investing in new ones (for my part, I don’t own any 18mm straps). Like the case, the side of the strap has a shallow cutout. While it’s not clearly visible here (sorry), the watch features a button fastener in addition to the tang clasp. The fastener pops into a channel (visible below) and locks the tail of the strap in place. Getting the button into the channel takes a small effort and it occasionally pops out, but I have to give plaudits for the innovative approach.
Timex made a brilliant move when it made Galli head of design and if the slew of vintage reissues weren’t enough to prove it, the Giorgio Galli S1 surely is. With a unique, clean design, the Galli S1 provides an affordable watch that sees Timex forge ahead with its effort to become more than a maker of throwaway timepieces. Timex is broadening its base, and it has yet to falter in doing so. For my part, I’m on board and excited for whatever comes next.
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Timex Giorgio Galli S1 38mm Specs
*Height of the watch from the wrist to the top of the crystal