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Timex Vies for Field Watch Crown: ‘Expedition North Solar’ Review

With the Expedition North, Timex finally presents a contender to Citizen’s king of the field watch hill.

Timex Expedition North Field Solar(Photo/Josh Wussow)
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Ever since I got into watches (which, as an old friend said, was something to be avoided), I’ve been fascinated by solar timepieces. This is GearJunkie, after all, and spending time outdoors is our thing. So, who among us doesn’t enjoy a bit of tech that’s powered by the same sun that shines on our shoulders?

For a long time, one popular field watch reigned at the pinnacle of near-perfection: the Citizen BM8180. I’ve referenced it in no fewer than three other stories, including reviews for other watches.

But, I’m not here to talk about that — at least, not yet. Today, I’m looking at the Timex Expedition North Field Solar ($159). The company’s latest offering serves as a subtle upgrade/refresh to its original Expedition North line, with a new band, a textured dial, and enough budgetary clout in its spec sheet to knock The-Watch-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named off its pedestal. Let’s dive in, courtesy of a press loaner from Timex.

In short: With its Expedition North Field Solar, Timex shows its growth in the affordable field watch space. Its solar-powered movement, visually interesting dial, and sapphire crystal make for a compelling argument at $159. This otherwise premium feel is let down a bit by the second hand’s typical Timex lurch, and the lume could be better. But while it doesn’t quite unseat Citizen’s vaunted BM8180 as the best low-cost, high-function field watch on the market, it could be said that it shares the throne.

Timex Expedition North Field Solar


  • Case width 36 mm
  • Case height 8.5 mm
  • Case material Stainless steel, brushed
  • Water resistance 100 m w/screw-down crown
  • Movement Quartz analog solar (4-month reserve)
  • Lug width 18 mm
  • Strap Eco-friendly leather


  • Visually interesting dial, sapphire crystal, excellent comfort and price, quiet operation


  • Lack of day/date window, slight lurch in the seconds hand, just-adequate lume

Timex Expedition North Field Solar Review

Expedition North Watch
(Photo/Josh Wussow)

Almost 2 years back, I took a look at the first of Timex’s new Expedition North line — The Field Post Mechanical. And while I had mostly positive things to say about the spinning-gear version, I was always curious about its solar counterpart. There was a certain comparison, I felt, that needed to be made, and it took until 2023 that I could justify this second look.

But, I’ll get to that in a minute. For now, take a look at this subtle upgrade to the original Expedition North Solar. The basic numerals and layout stand, but the new texture and finish go a long way toward adding visual interest to the black dial.

I’m a big fan of what Timex has done with the coloring, from the subtle shade difference between the face and elevated outer ring, to the matching orange accents on the indices and band.

I’m also interested by the low-slung nature of the hour hand. It doesn’t exactly translate in the photos, but that sucker hovers less than a hair’s breadth above the dial, and it’s neat.

Timex Expedition North Case
(Photo/Josh Wussow)

The price is equally engaging: $159 for sapphire crystal, 100m water resistance, and a reliable solar movement? Yes, please. And for those frowning at the diminutive 36mm case, fear not, Timex offers a  41mm version for the same price.

In the Field

Personally, I prefer my field watches on the smaller side. It carries that “vintage” feel of classic mil-spec watches, and I find they slide more easily beneath shirt sleeves and the straps of my day pack.

Overall, the Timex Field Solar is incredibly comfortable to wear. Much of this credit goes to the leather strap (Ecco DriTan), which feels like a significant upgrade from the original Expedition North. The brown color won’t run with sweat or water, as I discovered at the gym, and when I forgot to remove the watch before taking a shower.

In daily use, the Field Solar is a trooper. It took on all manner of workouts and chores, with a legibility that works from all angles. I have zero complaints about its overall functionality and, taken on its own, my general thoughts on this Timex are glowing. But speaking of glowing, it’s hard to talk about the negatives without diving straight into the obvious comparison.

Versus the Competition

Garrison and Timex Watches
(Photo/Josh Wussow)

For fans of solar field watches, Timex’s target is clear. The Citizen BM8180 “Garrison” has been king of this particular hill for about as long as I’ve been paying attention. This affordable, versatile timepiece has appeared on multiple GearJunkie “Best of” lists, and comparisons between the two are inevitable.

Here’s a point-by-point breakdown of the main differences, both good, bad, and indifferent:

  • The Citizen’s lume carries all-night strength, while the Field Solar’s numerals fade after a few hours.
  • Citizen utilizes a polished steel case, while the Timex’s steel is brushed.
  • Citizen includes a day and date window, but Timex opts for a clean, no-date approach.
  • Citizen’s crown is push-pull, while Timex utilizes a screw-down crown.
  • Citizen opts for mineral crystal, and Timex goes upscale with sapphire.

There are a few miscellaneous differences, such as 24-hour versus seconds numerals and the color of the Citizen’s seconds hand, but these watches have a lot in common.

Take the water resistance, for example — 100 m for each, despite the different crown mechanisms. Their cases are just 1 mm apart (37 vs. 36), with both accepting 18mm bands. And despite their semi-premium quartz internals, the seconds hand on both watches in my possession are slightly misaligned with their indices.

Cost, as always, is key. It should be noted that the BM8180 is readily available on Amazon, at the significant discount of $119. If you’re buying from Citizen’s official site (which ensures that you don’t get an unlabeled “factory second”), you’ll pay $188.

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Conclusion: Timex Expedition North Field Solar Review

Timex Expedition North Field Post Solar
(Photo/Josh Wussow)

Time for the all-important question: Is the Timex Field Solar a better watch than the vaunted BM8180? No, but neither is it worse.

Both offer solid functionality at a reasonable (and justified) price tag. So, it comes down to a matter of preference. Do you like a day/date window? Citizen’s got it. Or, do you prefer a more visually interesting dial? If so, the Timex’s textured finish and elevated outer ring offer a greater sense of depth. 

Setting comparisons aside, the Field Solar is an excellent timepiece. It’s rugged, functional, and everything you need to tell time on a 12- or 24-hour scale. I’m a big fan of the overall color scheme and aesthetic, and the sapphire crystal offers a nice upgrade.

Sure, the slight seconds-hand jerkiness and just-adequate numeral lume are a bit of a letdown. But taken as a whole, this watch represents the best of Timex’s resurgence for enthusiasts and users alike. 

Josh Wussow

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