Timex x J. Crew Andros

Time flies when you’re having fun & Its all in the dial

Pretty pair of 38mm J. Crew x Timex favorites

It has been almost 13 years since this J. Crew-distributed watch hit the street. Following the successful launch of the J. Crew Military watch a few years earlier, the Andros brought a more nautical feel to the outfits of J. Crew customers. It was very popular and lead to the launch of several also wildly popular 38mm Archive series watches using the same case. How has fashion changed in those 13 years? How have Timex and J.Crew changed in those 13 years?

Barrier Reef

The J. Crew Andros is named after the Andros Barrier Reef in the Bahamas. It is the third largest barrier reef in the world and 170 miles long. Its one of the world’s great snorkeling and diving destinations. I did not know about this until I started work on this post. Its interesting that I never really considered the name in three years I’ve owned some of these watches? Its a good name. Now, I wonder who came up with that idea? Its a good name to spark the imagination for adventures in the water.

I was not interested in this genre of watches 2011. I had a meager collection of watches in 2011 and am having trouble remembering what my most worn watches were then? A G-Shock, a Timex Camper, a Gruen Soviet, a 70s Seiko, a Swatch? My passions were soccer and motorcycles at the time. I had come back from almost a year away in Iraq in 2009. My 2010 and 2011 were a swirl of starting a small business, trying to get some military schooling done so I could continue my Army Reserve career, doing household maintenance.

I think I first heard of the J. Crew Andros in 2020? I had been starting to collect various Timex watches for a few years that had vintage or military leanings. During pandemic days, my small business had come to a temporary halt, so I was researching various Timex Archive watches, tool watches, and fashion watches like the J. Crew Military. I was also starting to collect the Timex Archive Navi 38mm watches like the Harbor and the Ocean. See my post on those here. When I saw the Andros, I instantly fell for that vintage diver-style dial. For along time I didn’t know what it was that attracted me so much? Since then, I have been putting the pieces together.

38mm tumbled case, narrow rotating bezel, day/date, 18mm lug gap

Heritage Divers

By 2011 Todd Snyder was gone from J. Crew. He had left J. Crew in 2009 to start his own brand. I’m guessing he was the design inspiration behind this watch? Once he left J. Crew, I don’t know who became the “watch guy” connection to Timex? Now, I don’t know the details of how this collaboration worked, but I can imagine T. S. and the Timex designers looking through the archives and other classic diver styling to formulate this concept. I’m going to look at some design details to establish where they came from and why I like them so much.

Worn & Wound commented on its release in 2011 as being part of a Heritage Diver revival. But, the writer doesn’t really identify any specific vintage divers that the Andros design draws from. The writer also discussed an issue that is central to this type of fashion watch; the opinion that watch enthusiasts have trouble with the price of the J. Crew Timex watches being overpriced for the quality of build you get. He goes on to give an example of a Seiko 5 diver model with retro design that he considers a real watch for less money than the Andros.

NATO-style straps were in fashion and affordable in 2011

This is something I have nibbled at in other posts and something that has plagued many Timex fashion collaboration releases. Its a case of Apples and Oranges. The Andros and the Seiko are made for two different audiences under different marketing, manufacturing, distribution and design briefs. Seiko does not make watches like this and Timex does not make watches like the Seiko. Currently, J. Crew has moved on to spec-based tool watches like Marathon for $370 to $1350 and straps from $50 to $70. That 2011 $175 watch and $28 strap are looking good now? So the real watch enthusiast has won. I’m sure the Marathons are quality watches, but not half as fun. Thankfully Todd Snyder is still collaborating with Timex through his own brand.

The Dial

The things that stand out to me about this dial design are the bold 12//6/9 only Arabic numbers, the calendar, the shape of the hour markers and the long minute marks. This case and bezel will appear again on to the Archive 38mm Ocean, Harbor but not this dial. Those later releases had a more field/pilot look like that of the Timex MK1s. Its pretty stark — white hands, markers and day/date on navy blue, with a a matching navy bezel insert. The design is not bezel focused like many classic dive watches, but instead, dial focused. The hour and minute markers have a heritage feel to me. The choice to use a day and date is notable since many classic diver dials do not. The day/date windows are prominent and reflect the fact that this is meant to be a versatile every day watch, rather than a tool watch. Again, this is a fashion watch, albeit with 100m WR, not a real dive watch. This rating makes it capable of accompanying you for casual swimming.

When I look back through the Timex Archives for design inspiration, I don’t see a single model the Andros replicates. It instead, grabs a little from here and there.

1970 Electric Sport Date. Timex
1975 Quartz Day/Date Timex

The Timex Skin Diver dials from 1966-70 had a fatter pencil hour marks than the Andros, but it is similar as are the long minute marks. (in 2018 Timex would use the 1966 dial again fro a 43mm Greats Bayman) When we look at the 1975 Quartz there is a similar hand set and the day/date windows. Its the case used on the Andros 38mm that I have trouble with. That shape, and the crown guards — where are they from? The 1989 Timex Diver-Style, which is, itself, a great looking watch had a vintage crown guard. You could say the Andros case is a squared-off version of the 89 case. This overall case and bezel combination popped up with this watch and continued on to the 38mm and 41mm Archive Navi series. It seems more modern than the dial, to me, and is also like a 1998 Timex trying very hard to look like a Rolex Submariner. Still, the crown guards on the Andros are not as thick as that 98 model.

2011 Andros left, 1970 Skin Diver right
1998 case and crown guards

Longines Dial

If I may, I’d like to look at the Andros dial again. It reminds me of something? There is a lot of space in the middle of the dial. Without the day/date windows it would be even more cleared out. I’m sure the design team looked at the 1966-70 skin divers. These early Timex Skin Divers looked a lot like many of the lower-end mechanical skin divers seen around the world in the 1960s. It seems there were endless brands doing 36mm skin divers that all had similar cases, hand sets and movements, with slight changes to dial layout. But one thing they had in common was the long minute markers. I call it the Longines dial. I’d love to see the Andros hour and minute markers come into the middle even more. Another detail that helps is the bar marks on the bezel at every other hour help extend out the dial hour marks when they line up. This has a nice effect of expanding the dial outward like the internal bezel on the Longines.

Ref 6921 Matt Bain
Ref. 7042 Compressor wanabuyawatch
Seamaster 300 164.024

Okay, humor me. These early classic 1960s divers are what the early working man’s basic mechanical skin diver wanted to be. Its what the 1966 Timex skin diver wanted to evoke. Its the dial! Its what I am reminded of when I see the Andros. I don’t see a Submariner or a Seiko. I see a slight Longines dial. And that makes me happy. To me the Nautilus 6921 and the Omega Seamaster 164 may be the dive watches that most excite the romance and nostalgia of sea exploration. The Submariner doesn’t do it for me. (As I write this, Longines is releasing a new 39mm Legend Diver; magnifique).

Luminant on hands and hour markers. Crystal edge bevel refraction is interesting.

Back to Earth

The bezel: Not the best part of the watch. For one thing it is narrow and slopes away from the beveled edge of the flat mineral crystal, so it is not as prominent as a flat one would be. Add to that the bezel inserts are the same color as the dials, so just disappear. Secondly, Timex has trouble making these friction fit bezels on this 38mm case turn easily. I have owned several Andros, Ocean, and Harbor Navi-style Timex models and many of the bezels are hard to turn! Timex won’t fix it for you either claiming lack of parts.

Aluminum bezel inserts: Numbers and marks are silver metal showing through printed color

The crystal is flat. A box crystal would have changed the watch dramatically towards a vintage feel. That would come later with the Timex Todd Snyder Maritime Sport MS-1 in 2018. This crystal/bezel/case combination seem modern even though the watch also has a vintage vibe.

Originally released in 2011 Navy blue, the Andros, T2N678, was made up to 2015. It was a very popular watch.Its the one most people know of. The Black version, TW2R11400, came out years later in 2016. You will see far fewer Black Andros versions on the market. It was probably released to generate some excitement when popularity for the blue had started to wane. The black case version has more details added like gold second hand, grey hour and minute hands as well as gold hour markers. The dial is actually a dark grey or charcoal instead of black. I think the gold surround on the hour markers actually diminishes the visual impact of the hour markers, depending on light and angle viewed from. Maybe my favorite detail on the black one is the grey color of the minute and hour hands. I am less attracted to black watches, overall. As a fashion accessory, black may have advantages. Black is not what I think of when I imagine a diver, even though there are plenty of black divers out there. It connotes a more modern diver or military purpose?

Blue 2011: T2N678, movt. 903, year WW
Black 2016: TW2R11400, year 34

The movement used in the Blue version is the M903, I think. This has the day and date complications. The numbers and letters are black on a white background. The black dial version gets white on black. I’m not sure if the 2016 movement is otherwise different. Several Andros preowned watches have passed through my hands over the last few years. The main problem I see with them, besides hard to turn bezels, is the failure of the day/date functions. The movements just wear out over time, it appears. I’m not sure if its the teeth on the date wheels or the gear/stem mechanisms. This is the weak link with Timex watches of this era. I don’t really know of anyone repairing movements of this type? When they fail, almost always the fix is a movement replacement.

Released in 2016, Black with gold details TW2R11400

The Straps

Being J. Crew issue in 2011, of course this watch was coming on a 18mm nylon ribbed strap. It should be a NATO-style strap with hardware matching the case. The original blue strap with satin finish (tumbled?) silver hardware should be a nice dark navy, with almost a green tint. The keepers should have rounded corners and the buckle curved sides and round corners. Sometimes you can find preowned examples with replacement straps that are not the same blue color. The black cased version came on a dark tan strap with the same hardware, but in black finish.

The original strap is what I would call light-weight, but well made, appropriate for pricing. I have seen worse. Also, you might see other J. Crew single-layer straps used on these in various stripes or colors, but many of these have polished silver finish and distinctive square(sharp) corners on the keepers. I have not experimented much with these watches using other types or colors of straps? For some reason these seem appropriate. It might be fun to try some brown or black or leather with gold hardware on the black one? I have seen the blue one on a tan leather NATO, too. In the above image you can see the blue dial on a Barton cordura/silicone 2-piece, quick-release with brushed buckle, that gives the watch a slightly more upgraded, solid character. A grey/black cordura/silicone might look good on the black one?

Top two original 18mm NATOs, bottom Barton cordura/silicone two-piece

Fan Favorite

I’m going to call the Andros a success. It had a long run for a Timex and is still in demand on the preowned market. The blue version is the one known best. Though I really like the black one’s details, it is not the one that comes to mind first. Its all in the dial for me. Timex’s later Navis are great but go more the Submariner look. The newer Expedition North divers are too clunky. The Tibuóns, too heavy-handed and Seiko-ish. I think the Waterbury or Standard dials are closer to the Longines dial. I am drawn to those more. Vintage is a blessing and a curse. Companies want to be seen as innovators. I for one and not through with Heritage Divers. I’m still holding out for a Timex Heritage Skin Diver. I don’t think they’ve done that yet. 38mm, flat bezel, Longines dial, box crystal, 100m, mechanical or solar!

Barton two-piece
Black, gold, grey, tan

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