I’ve always known Timex for their reliable and affordable quartz watches that I’ve been more than happy to recommend to any friend looking for a watch that is cheap, but still quality.
Recently, they’ve been releasing watches with automatic movements, such as the Timex Waterbury Dive Automatic. Once I saw it, I knew I had to try one.
The Timex Waterbury Dive Automatic is a 40mm dive watch with 100m water resistance and a Japanese Miyota movement. The Waterbury Dive watch is a contemporary sports watch with a timeless look and decent specifications. Unfortunately, it may fall short in a few key specifications; namely its use of a mineral crystal, making it prone to scratches, and a basic automatic movement that has hand-winding but lacks hacking.
Timex nods to its brand heritage as the Waterbury Watch Company in various design queues across the watch; in the text on the dial, and on the counterbalance of the second hand.
So, is it worth the $299 price tag? Let’s take a closer look in this Timex Waterbury Dive Review.
Design and On-Wrist
When wearing the Waterbury Automatic Diver on the wrist, it quickly becomes evident that Timex is no slouch when it comes to craftsmanship and detail. Many design elements come together in a package that gives a feeling of precise, intentional balance.
The skeletonized hands and applied indices catch the light, offering a bit of reflectivity and just the right amount of bling. The sunburst dial is dynamic and adds a layer of visual interest. shifting in hue as the light hits it from different angles.
The otherwise maybe-too-flashy piece is perfectly subdued by the muted brushed coin-edge bezel, and matte black, sloping dive bezel. These little touches, along with the mostly brushed case surfaces, bring the watch back down to reality, and, in my eyes, visually perfect for everyday wear.
Finally, the multi-link bracelet, alternating between brushed and polished links, is thin and elegant, but not dainty. The bracelet drapes over the wrist and flows beautifully, punctuating the entire watch with the perfect eye-catching, but not over-the-top, cool and casual look; exactly what you’d expect from a well-executed variation of a design that has stood the test of time, since the 60’s.
Sunburst Dial – Not What I Expected
While I partially purchased this model because it’s the only of the three variations that come on a bracelet instead of a strap, I was also struck by the gorgeous-looking sunburst grey dial.
Upon unboxing the watch, I was surprised at just how dark the grey dial is in person, appearing almost black in my averagely lit home office. Had it not come on the bracelet, I might have questioned if I had received the wrong model entirely.
The dial opens up to reveal a slightly brighter grey indirect lighting conditions, like when outside, but still leans on the darker side.
Two brushed surfaces of the applied indices sandwich a bit of white luminova in a way that matches the spacing of the skeletonized handset.
Speaking of which, I’m glad Timex has lengthened the minute hand all the way to the outer, minute track around the dial. One of my biggest watch design pet peeves is when a company makes a handset that is simply too short.
The green second hand adds a pop of color to an otherwise very monochromatic watch and nods to Timex’s history as the Waterbury Watch Company with its ‘W’ on its counterbalance.
The standard TIMEX text logo is painted, in white, at 12:00, in a way that doesn’t detract from the dial, and in fact, adds a level of layering, sitting beneath the height of the applied indices. At 6:00, “THE WATERBURY, AUTOMATIC”, and the Waterbury logo is painted on, adding a perfect balance to the TIMEX logo at 12:00.
The balance and proportion on this watch is crisp and precise, Timex clearly took their time to ensure no single-dial element is overwhelming.
A day and date-wheel cutout at 3:00 cuts into the 3:00 hour marker, and doesn’t have any framing, my one minor gripe with the overall execution of the dial.
Overall, the dial has many different, well-placed and proportioned elements that all catch light at different angles, and make the watch very interesting to look at, without being overdone, or imbalanced.
Case & Finish
The case of the Waterbury Dive Automatic stands out, in the best way.
Its downward sloping, both toward the lugs, and even from the tip of the lugs, toward the case. This helps condense the 48mm lug-to-lug, and increases wearability on the wrist. More about that later.
The brushed surfaces on the top and sides of the case sandwich a thin, subtle curving polished chamfer, adding just a bit of ‘pop’. It’s little details like this that make a good watch great, and often go unnoticed.
The case is machined precisely, with crisp, distinct edges between the surfaces, without being sharp to the touch.
The Waterbury signed, non-screwdown crown is polished, and fine-toothed, to allow you to easily grip it when setting the time, day, date, or hand-winding. Here, we can see the absence of any crown guards, as is typical with the skin-diver style watches the Waterbury is based on.
Dive Bezel & Insert
The brushed, coin-edge bezel took me by surprise. Often, we see polished bezels on dive watches, however, I believe Timex intelligently brushed the bezel to help subdue the overall look of the watch, to keep it tasteful looking, and not like a chrome-plated blingy monstrosity your uncle blinds you with at dinner.
The bezel is a 120-click unidirectional bezel that is slightly on the thinner side, for a dive bezel, but with deep enough grooves that make it more than easy enough to operate.
The bezel has a very nice feel, clicking securely into place, however, it does have a bit of back play, often expected in more affordable divers.
One of the stars of the show on this entire piece is the geometrically beveled, downward sloping bezel insert.
This insert makes the bezel thicker on the inner edge, toward the dial, and thinner on the outer edge, reducing the overall visual thickness of the watch in the same way that a domed crystal does on other watches.
This is another intentional design element that demonstrates Timex is no slouch when it comes to craftsmanship and detail.
One of my biggest gripes with the bezel insert are the markings at 15, 30, and 45 minutes. Let me explain. A line is marked in 5-minute intervals, to aid in quickly telling elapsed time when reading the dive bezel. These lines cut through the numbers at 15, 30, and 45 minutes, cutting each of the numbers in half. This gives me a feeling of uneasiness if I was to be a bit dramatic in how I’m describing it. Simply, it’s not a good look.
The lume applied on the hour markers, and at the tip of the skeleton handset. Neither are thick, bold, or long-lasting enough to impress, however, it should certainly be sufficient for those times when you walk from the sunny outside into a dimly lit coffee shop or bar.
The beautiful, multi-link bracelet is one of the main reasons I chose this model over the other two Waterbury Dive Automatic variations, for an extra $20, coming in at $299, instead of $279.
The bracelet not only looks good, given its excellent finish on both the brushed and polished surfaces, but it also feels good on the wrist.
The links feel lightweight, but solid, in all but the hollow end-links, and drapes perfectly over the wrist, thanks to its female end-links. The bracelet is sized with friction-based pushpins, which I haven’t had any problems with.
Unfortunately, it lacks any sort of quick adjustment, so you may have a hard time precisely fitting the bracelet to your wrist.
A Timex logo engraved, push-button deployment reveals a stamped clasp that gets the job done. A bit more substantially machined clasp would be ideal, but that is a rarity in such affordable watches, and would almost certainly raise the MSRP. With that said, the clasp feels secure enough, and I don’t believe it will cause any problems down the line.
Miyota 8XXX Movement
Seen through the display case back of the Timex Waterbury is an automatic, Japanese Miyota movement with 21-jewels and hand-winding capabilities. Although Timex has been rather discreet about the exact movement model, I speculate it is the Miyota 8215, as it also has hand-winding, but not hacking.
The Miyota 8215 has an accuracy of -20 to +40 seconds per day, and is well-known for being a reliable, although basic, no-frills, entry-level movement.
Hand-winding the movement has a slight lack of resistance, which doesn’t give a very assuring feeling. This is pretty typical for a basic, entry-level movement, however.
Dimensions & Wearability
Timex Waterbury Dive Automatic Dimensions
- Diameter: 40mm
- Lug-to-lug: 48mm
- Lug width: 20mm
- Thickness: 13.5mm
When wearing the Waterbury on my 6.5″ wrists, the comfortably sized case, and the flowy bracelet with female end links, allow the watch to sit comfortably, with room in either direction to move my wrist freely.
On my wrists there is still room to go for a slightly larger lug-to-lug, meaning anybody with wrists larger than mine can certainly wear this watch without it being too large. Even wrists slightly smaller than mine, likely down to 6″, will be able to wear this watch without issue.
The Timex Waterbury automatic comes in at a standard 40mm case diameter that will suit a wide variety of wrists. The sizing is very appropriate for a modern take on a classic, skin-diver style, where dive watches were meant to sit a bit closer to the wrist.
The lug-to-lug (measurement from the top lugs to the bottom lugs) comes in at a hair over 48mm, which isn’t too large, but not condensed, either.
The Waterbury has a thickness of 13mm, rather average for a dive watch of this size. The watch appears slightly thinner, however, thanks to the downward sloping bezel insert and downward sloping case lugs which both help to shed off some visual thickness.
Finally, the 20mm lug width suits the 40mm diameter perfectly proportionally. And 20mm is the perfect, standard strap size, so you’ll have no problems finding a variety of different straps to try on.
The Waterbury has a 100m water resistance that is, in my eyes, more than sufficient for everyday wear, including swimming.
When it comes to diving, even experienced divers will rarely surpass the 100m depth rating of this piece, but you may still want to look for a more professional alternative if you plan to actually use this on your next dive excursion.
Of course, a screw-down crown would have been a welcome addition for the reassurance of the additional water-sealing.
Further, the Waterbury only has a mineral crystal which is rather prone to scratching.
This is a bit disappointing, when watches like the Orient Kamasu, for a similar price, use a sapphire crystal, and even Seiko’s similarly priced, entry-level divers use Seiko’s own hardlex, which is an upgrade from mineral.
Deal-breaker? No. Disappointing? Yes.
Other Timex Waterbury Dive Automatic Models
The Timex Waterbury Dive Automatic comes in three distinct variations.
Green Dial / Brown Strap
This sunburst green dial variation is my favorite of the bunch. Had it came on a bracelet, this is certainly the model I would have went with.
The green dial has a rich emerald hue that adds quite a luxurious feel, and is quite distinct from any other dive watch I’ve come across (Rolex Hulk, doesn’t even touch this).
Black Dial / Brown Strap
The black dial variant with a brown strap comes with warmer, almost faux-patina accents on the dial and bezel text and markings. This model has a more aged look.
Black-Grey Dial / Stainless Steel Bracelet
This is the Waterbury featured in this review; with a black-grey dial and stainless steel bracelet.
Other Dive Watches to Consider
If you’re considering the Timex Waterbury Dive Automatic, there are a couple of other dive watches you should consider as well.
The Orient Kamasu is simply one of the best value dive watches currently on the market. For less than the cost of the Timex Waterbury, the Kamasu has even better specifications, including:
- 200m Water Resistance (vs. TImex Waterbury’s 100m)
- Sapphire crystal (vs. Timex Waterbury’s mineral)
Of course, the Waterbury has a very distinct contemporary aesthetic that is hard to come by in affordable pieces, and the Kamasu looks a bit more modern, if you ask me.
If you found yourself gravitating to the Waterbury Automatic diver for the vintage, skin-diver aesthetic, you might be wondering what other, similarly styled watches are out there.
The Seiko SPB143 is based on the Seiko 62MAS, a 1960s diver from which the style originates, and offer many visual similarities between itself and the Waterbury.
While the SPB143 looks great, and like an upgraded Timex Waterbury in many regards, it comes with a much heftier pricetag, closer to $1,000. Not a direct competitor, but certainly one to keep your eye on.
Timex Waterbury Hodinkee Collab
The Waterbury Diver Automatic is not the first vintage-style auto diver Timex has made. In fact, they’ve previously released a well-regarded collaboration with watch blog Hodinkee, a lofty goal I am striving for myself, as an amateur watch blogger.
The Hodinkee collab is a bit more muted, with completely painted hour markers, and a textured dial that gives the watch a completely different, utilitarian feel.
But of course, the Waterbury Diver has that classic-cool bling-bling that makes it perfect for everyday wear.😉
The Timex Waterbury Dive Automatic is a testament to Timex’s design chops. Perfectly balanced and proportioned, with a variety of different textures and surfaces that grabs the eye, this diver has the perfect amount of “cool”, without looking like it’s trying too hard.
For $299, you might find a better “value”, but watches are more than just specs on a paper. They have to make you feel a certain way, and the Waterbury Dive makes me feel like I should be wearing sunglasses while driving a convertible.
Check out the Waterbury on:
Hope you enjoyed this review! Let me know what you think about the Timex Waterbury in the comments below!– Anthony