Timex comes through with a true blast from the classic past.
Long gone are the glory days of air travel. Just ask anyone who’s been on a flight in the last few years. And while I’m not a “nostalgia” kind of guy, I’ll admit to certain envy for the folks lucky enough to fly in the 1950s and 60s. Full meals, free cocktails, and space to stretch your legs? It’s almost like a fairytale.
But if we can’t return to the past, maybe we can reach out and pluck a bit back. That’s what Timex set out to do with its Pan-Am Chronograph ($219). This watch, according to the brand’s website, “harkens back to an evocative period, challenging not only the charm and grandeur of travel’s early days, but also the precision, ergonomics, and unencumbered legibility of a traditional pilots’ watch.”
Sounds like rose-colored marketing to me, but maybe there’s something there for the “Mad Men” crowd. When I saw this watch, it wasn’t the appeal of Chicken Keiv, Steak Diane, and highballs with lunch that drew my attention. It was the color, the clean lines, and the very attractive price. And once Timex agreed to send one along for review, the rest, as they say, is history.
In short: The Timex Pan-Am Chronograph is the best Timex I’ve handled this year, and perhaps the brand’s best watch since 2021’s Field Post Mechanical. Its quality materials have been finished with skill, and the upgraded movement justifies the semi-premium price. In fact, this may be the finest deal in the whole of the company’s lineup.
Timex Pan-Am Chronograph Review
The Specs (from Timex)
- Case width: 42 mm
- Case material: Stainless steel
- Crystal/Lens: Mineral glass
- Watch Movement: Seiko VK68A quartz analog
- Water resistance: 50 m
- Case height: 12 mm
- Strap and lug width: 20 mm
We’ll start with the dial because this one is a stunner. Timex kept things pretty clean here, with a gorgeous and simple face. Have you seen how blue the sky gets above the clouds? I think that’s what the brand shot for.
The three sub-dials each have a function — a 24-hour hand at 2 o’clock, the second hand at 6, and the chronograph’s 60-minute spinner at 10. The hands are sharply wrought, with an almost weathervane appearance to the slim chronograph second timer.
The stainless steel case features a mix of brushed and polished surfaces. Water resistance clocks in at 50 m, which is perfectly acceptable for a chronograph. As cool as the added functionality might be, those extra pushers offer more places for water to get in.
But with a rating this high, you should be fine for a quick dip in the lavatory sink.
The leather on the strap is probably the best I’ve experienced from Timex, and lightyears more comfortable than what you’d find on a seat in economy class. And that blue backing? Gorgeous. The whole thing narrows out near its ends, making for an effortless, stable ride.
The mineral crystal is a bit of a weak point. I’m always going to prefer sapphire for its anti-reflective clarity and scratch resistance. But for $219, I’m not horribly mad at it. And there’s a little bit of leeway here, considering it’s a retro-themed piece.
The Movement Makes a Difference
As soon as I removed the watch from its box, I noticed something strange. Unlike some of the recent Timexes I’ve handled, this one ticked away practically in silence.
I had to press it against my ear to catch the sound of its second hand, which produced an immediate suspicion. Timex was using someone else’s movement!
Sure enough, “The chronograph version uses a Seiko VK68A movement, which has a 3-year battery life,” the brand told me.
This is a significant upgrade compared to the MK1 Chrono, one of my favorite Timex models. A Seiko-derived movement goes a long way toward justifying the $219 price.
As much as I enjoy the movement and chrono function, there is a sticking point here — specifically, in the buttons.
The upper presser especially requires a concerted effort to push. It’s not exactly difficult, but it takes more force than expected to set the timer on its way.
The button will still click, even if you haven’t pressed hard enough. But once you give it a jab, the hand glides with an almost mechanical-like four ticks per second.
Here’s another consequence of using an upgraded movement: no Timex-propriety Indiglo.
Instead, buyers will be treated to an old-fashioned application of luminous paint lighting the indices and hands. It’s no Super LumiNova, and not quite on par with something from Citizen.
But I was able to make out the time over multiple nights with little to no difficulty. Even the sub-dials are lumed. How gorgeous is that?
A Masterclass in Branding
Normally, I’m not a fan of branded collaborations. They can often feel garish, with logos wedged into places they don’t belong. But Timex nailed it with this Pan-Am tribute.
Take the watch’s face, for instance. There’s a single, tastefully wrought logo, set into the recessed surface of the second dial. At the 6 o’clock position beneath, Timex painted in the silhouette of a passenger plane.
This character touch is so well done that, if you weren’t looking for it, you’d probably miss it.
The circular Pan-Am logo appears five more times — once on the crown, twice in studded steel on the band and once on the leather beneath, and finally on the back of the case.
But in practice, only two to three of these icons are visible at a time. And each one is so visually interesting that you forget that you’re wearing a billboard for a long-dead airline.
In short, this feels like a watch Pan-Am would have handed out to its pilots after a few years of service. Not a 10-year anniversary gift perhaps, but somewhere in the neighborhood of 5.
Conclusion: The Timex Pan-Am Chronograph
If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m a big fan of this time machine/timepiece. From its restrained, legible design to the beautiful chassis wrapped around its Seiko movement, the Pan-Am Chronograph has everything wristwatch and nostalgia enthusiasts could ask for.
A lot of good decisions have been made here. Only one remains — the decision to find out for yourself. Seeing is believing and, while it’s true that the “good old days” were probably not all they’re cracked up to be, this particular Timex represents a rose-tinted window to the past.
A modern flight can easily match the cost of a luxury watch. But with this Pan-Am, just $219 buys you a first-class experience.Check Price at Timex