Archive 38s by Sea, Air and Land?: Part 1

The Timex Archive diver-flavored 38mm gems

Depths, Harbors, Oceans and Collabs


These may be the watches that started me spinning down the Timex Archive rabbit hole? They manage to combine several elements; diver, pilot, retro, military field, and a 38mm size to the point that one is not sure what they are but they have your attention. I really like them.

I’m not the only one, apparently, since finding some of these in good condition can be a challenge. Timex cranks out a lot of watches. So much so, that it is hard to keep track of all the variations-on-a-theme and the different versions of such for Asia or Europe or North America, etc. On top of that are all the collaborations that riff off the tried and true designs.

You might not know it from reading the mainstream watch blogs fixated on the latest higher-priced brand releases, but a lot of people buy and collect Timex watches. Even “real watch” people can be caught scooping up some of the nice Timex releases. Production runs sell out quickly as evidenced by the frequently encountered “Join the Wait list” copy scattered around the Timex site.

The Timex Archive Project covered a broad range of styles. Frankly, I have struggled to get my arms around just what all falls under the Archive banner. Timex, in general has released many watches that are reinterpretations of watches from their past, but are not necessarily included in the Archive campaign. The Archive collection has many sub categories and seems to include some styles that are versions of stand-alone ranges, so it gets confusing. I hope to cover this topic more in future posts.

Around the Water

For this post I want to cover the Navi Depth and Navi Harbor styles. Both are 38mm quartz, time only, 100m WR, nylon-strapped little cuties with a retro diver flair. There are no 38mm Archive Timex watches with an automatic movement. Within the Timex Navi group, there is the Navi XL range that includes both quartz and auto versions in 41mm. Again, that’s for another post.

Navi Depth; Navy dial and Navy bezel insert or Black dial and black/red insert
Navi Harbor tumbled stainless case, black, navy dial or blk coated case, black dial

To me, Timex watches are a world apart from mainstream watches—a world within themselves. Its hard to compare them to more mainstream, higher priced watches because they don’t compete spec-wise, as in materials and movements and traditional watch making manufacturing processes. But they do offer the flavor and details, the impression of being more than they are, at an affordable price. With the Timex Archive watches you get designs that seem familiar; there are things borrowed from iconic watches, some elements from past Timex designs, then also a modern spin. They remind you of something yet are still different than anything in their price range? To be continued…

Timex claims that these Archive releases are inspired by their past products. But that does not necessarily mean a reissue of one specific watch. I think they combine elements of several past designs.

So, let’s look at the Depth. I believe it falls under the Archive sub-line of Pioneers pieces . At first take, you get a feeling of a small vintage diver. There is the bezel with insert, the crown guards, the (submariner-esque)dial with big triangle at 12, bars at 3, 6, 9 and then the big dots for the other hours – quintessential diver language. I cannot find a Timex watch from the past that looks a lot like the Depth, or the Harbor for that matter. But, I do see influences for several watches over the 1960s-90s.

Depth’s Decompression inner scale

The case is simple, tool-ish, but treated with a faux aging via a tumbled process. ( I have seen review where someone returned the watch because the didn’t want a new watch that looked used!) As for Timex inspiration, maybe the 1989 “diver-styled” 40511 first had this type of case and lug. The bezel is bidirectional with no ratchet click. It is a friction fit with a firm smooth action. The bezel insert is printed aluminum. I have seen several examples of different Timex styles with this type of 38mm case and bezel that were so tight they could barely be turned? The hand set style is unlike any other current Timex I know of? The hour hand is a fat arrow while the minute is a fat pencil. They seem to be taken from the 1966-70 Skin Diver models. The second sweep has an arrow head with a sword tail.

The crystal is flat with a decent bevel that gives it depth. The crown is not signed, but has a little shoulder detail. The hour markers and the hands are painted with a luminous material that is bold and legible for a short time.

The etched back of the Depth is like that of the 41mm Navi XL. Indicates WR, Movement, lug width, date code? and even model number.

Depth back

Now let’s get to that unique dial. The hour markings, triangle, fat dots and bars resemble the dial of the 1982-5 Sports Quartz models. “Archive” and “WR100m” type is found at the bottom of the dial on either side of the 6 position bar. Then there is the inner decompression scale numbers which represent depths in meters. From Timex: “It features dial markings informed by vintage diving timepieces; before wrist-mounted diving computers became the standard, a watch like this would have helped its wearer plan out decompression stops when returning to the surface after a deep dive.” This scale, if the bezel is left with the arrow at 12:00, tells us the minimum amount of time (in seconds per the outer bezel) that a diver would need to resurface from the corresponding number of meters shown on the inner bezel.(explanation Michael Stockton, Fratello watches). This is a great example of Timex adding flavor-evoking dive history- for fun, to a watch that is not a real diver, but a 100M WR swimmer.

There are two color combinations of the Depth. The first I believe was the TW2T56200 has a navy dial and bezel insert. The hands are polished steel around the lume. There is a red second sweep and some red triangles on the bezel. It comes on a navy nylon pass- thru strap with signed, polished buckle. Later it came on a wavy blue silicone strap under the model TW2U73900LG. The other color way has a black dial, black and red bezel insert. Instead of a red second hand, it is white. The minute hand is red, the hour arrow, white. Its black silicone version is TW2U25700LG or a black leather under TWH1Y2810 later. I like them better on a nylon strap, I think. They just don’t seem to work on leather? I never had the Timex two piece silicone strap, which feels more modern. The watch can seem retro or modern depending?

Depth in the dark

Now about that Harbor. My take is that this watch is more desirable than the Depth? I don’t see as many for sale around the web. While the same size and case and crown as the Depth, it goes a tad more traditional with the dial and hands, but has its own character. It has the same hour markers but trades the decompression scale for a traditional 24 hr /military scale in a faded red color on the black dial (white on the navy and pvd ones). This 24hr track and 12 hr bezel insert tilts the Harbor in more of a field watch direction? Also, I like to describe this watch as a Mini Me to the 41mm Navi XL. If you take a basic quartz Navi XL with black dial, at first glance, they can look like the same watch.

Archive Navi Harbor

I think it is the polished hand set and the 24 hour track together that cause me to think a 41mm Navi XL is a Archive 38mm Harbor at times. The hour hand has a “ring” that aligns with the 24 hr numbers. I don’t know what name is given to this type of hand? It is a fun little detail of the watch. Aside from the ring, the hand shape is more a thin sword shape-more delicate than the fat hands on the Depth. The second sweep is a lollipop style. The dot also aligns with the ring and 24hr track.

I don’t know where Timex got this hand style from. I don’t remember seeing it on any earlier watches from the brand’s archives. This hand set is the distinguishing characteristic of this watch and the Navi XL. It gives this watch a more refined, more vintage feel than the Depth. The fat hands on the Depth might be more legible however.

Harbor back

The Harbor black dial TW2R73300LG comes on a 18mm dark olive drab nylon pass-thru strap with polished hardware. I love em! For some reason I don’t seem to try other straps on this guy? The navy dial/bezel TW2T83200LG comes on the same nylon in dark navy. To round it out, the pvd black cased, black dial TW2T12100LG comes on the black gnarly nylon, too. This one I do like to put on a strap with black hardware. But, since the hands are still polished silver, they do match the hardware of the original Timex strap.

Black and Blue Harbors

If you look at the two Depths and three Harbors shown in this post they all have different bezel insert layouts. Well, the black and blue Harbors have the same insert in different colors. I’ll let the reader discover that instead of describing them all.

I came to the Archive Project watches late in the game, after most had been released and were long gone from the Timex site or boutiques (never seen one). I found my black one in Italy. I think the size and details of these Archive 38s were well received and collectors have gathered them up. But like all watches, if you are patient, good examples will pop up now and then-usually when you are not looking for them!

Archive Navi Depth and Harbor

Case diameter : 38mm

Thickness: 12mm

Lug gap: 18mm

Length Lug to lug: 47mm

Water Resistance : 100m

Movement: Quartz, M901

Crystal: mineral



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