Hands-On: The James Brand X Timex Expedition North White-Dial Watch

Timex X The James Brand Expedition North

Timex has been absolutely killing it with its collaborations and limited editions. The brand, once known as the American bedrock of cheap quartz watches, has emerged over the past several years as a serious player in the watch world. Now, even the haughtiest of watch collectors get excited about the next release from Timex. From partnerships with Todd Snyder to Giorgio Galli automatics to the Q collection, Timex seems unstoppable.  Last year, the brand teamed up with Oregon-based The James brand for the black-dialed The James Brand X Timex Expedition North. The collaboration was a huge success for both brands, selling out in a single day and commanding admittedly excessive secondary market prices. It’s no wonder, then, that the two brands have decided to come back together to revisit the design. At hand today is the second edition of the titanium The James Brand X Timex Expedition North with a refreshingly bright white dial.

Timex X The James Brand Expedition North

While the dial of this 41mm Expedition North has been made white, that’s not the only change. The handset, too, has been inverted, now featuring a black outline and a white base, the former providing better contrast against the dial; as is plain to see, overall legibility is exceptional. The applied indices also appear to have been slightly increased in size, meaning the green C3 Super-LumiNova application (which was adequate but not great on the original) is now improved. For better or worse, the seconds hand remains unlumed. The integration of the date window is also excellent, as it falls precisely along the circle of the 24-hour track; to boot, the white date wheel matches the dial, unlike the white-on-black of the original. The flat sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating allows for easy reading at any angle, with no distortion.

Timex X The James Brand Expedition North

One of the nice things about this collaboration and its sibling is how The James Brand has so clearly influenced the design but hasn’t overdone it with the branding. The simple text on the dial, the printing on the sapphire caseback, and the best part: the acrylic inlay in the screw-down titanium crown. It’s not uncommon at this price point to find crowns that get stuck, wiggle, or are undersized, as brands tend to focus mostly on aesthetics when producing more affordable watches. The crown here, though, had a sturdy feel, good grip, and was easy to operate.

Timex X The James Brand Expedition North

With a 41mm body, 12.5mm height, and nearly 50mm lug-to-lug distance, The James Brand X Timex Expedition North sits right in the middle of the modern case-size pack. It wears quite well for a couple of reasons, though. First and foremost, the generous curves of the lugs mitigate the thickness (which really isn’t that bad, to begin with). Second, the sandblasted titanium case barely allows light to reflect, meaning the watch isn’t constantly reminding you of its presence on the wrist as it shines light off a would-be chamfer. The muted warmth of the titanium — which gives the case a lightness that defies its dimensions — reinforces the ruggedness of the field watch design. It seems to be begging to be properly used, outside, in rough terrain. And yet, as with many field watches, its ruggedness is not so in-your-face as to preclude its use as a watch for nearly all occasions, especially with a quick strap change.

The James Brand X Timex Expedition North may feature a simple undecorated Miyota 8215 movement (notwithstanding the Timex branding on the rotor), but the sapphire display caseback caters to buyers who may be new to watches or just to mechanical watches and are apt to enjoy a glance at the inner workings from time to time. The movement is one of Miyota’s entry-level offerings and lacks a hacking function, though offers around 40 hours of power reserve while beating at 3hz, and it does allow for manual winding. Given that the watch is a limited collaboration, it would have been nice to see a slightly upgraded movement for the occasion, even if that would have meant a slightly higher retail price.

A final change from the original release is the strap. Instead of a single-piece NATO-style strap, the new version comes with a two-piece nylon strap with quick-release tabs for easy strap changes. The strap is slightly stiff at first but breaks in easily, and the matching titanium hardware rounds out the durable look of the watch. The 20mm lugs are in proportion to the case and ensure compatibility with a wide range of straps. In addition to a slightly different vibe from the single-piece strap, the two-piece avoids the added thickness from passing a band under the watch, meaning this version wears a bit better right out of the box.

Timex X The James Brand Expedition North

Inverting colors and turning black to white isn’t a revelation. What’s great is another collaboration between the two brands. The James Brand has a soft touch with a minimalist design that, applied to Timex, has resulted in two of the best-looking models from the classic American watch brand. The new white dial gives the model a fresher look while maintaining the go anywhere, do anything practicality of the original. As Timex continues to expand its reach beyond quartz watches and into enthusiast-driven mechanical timepieces, it’s exciting to think of what may be next. The James Brand X Timex Expedition North White Dial is available now from authorized dealers as a limited edition of 1,000 pieces and is priced at $349. For more details, please visit Timex website.

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Photo Rachel Bilson

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