If you have ever searched for military watches, or field watches generally, then you have likely come across Marathon Watch — and most likely also come across their “General Purpose” line of watches. There’s a few variants, but they can be broken down to: Mechanical (GPM) or Quartz (GPQ); and then Tritium or Maraglo. I’ve always thought they looked neat, and something to try out, but the price tag is steep for what looks like a rather plain watch.
But, I grabbed a GPQ with Maraglo from J.Crew during one of their many sales for about $80 — an absolute steal of a deal. I’ve been messing about with it since picking it up, and while I do like it — it’s not really something which draws me in.
The price is higher than you might expect for a plain looking field watch which is quartz powered. The specs on this are interesting, here’s the highlights:
- Movement: ETA High-Torque FØ6
- Luminous Features: MaraGlo™ (Marathon rates it at 8hrs of glow, can confirm.)
- Crystal Material: Sapphire
- Crown Type: Pressure
- Case Material: High-Impact Composite Fibreshell
- Submersibility: 3 ATM
- Case Diameter: 34mm
- Case Thickness: 11mm
- Lug Width: 16mm
Here’s my summary of the above: not great water rating, very durable case/crystal, movement is just fine, but the glow is outstanding. Oh, and it’s a small but chunky watch.
On My Wrist
This has not been as worn as my other watches, so I won’t call this a full review. The reason: I just don’t love wearing this watch. Instead, I will give you a list of thoughts on this watch:
- The first thing you will notice is how small the watch is at 34mm. That is small, but that’s the case size. The actual circular bit housing the dial is around 31mm give or take. That’s smaller. So visually this watch looks much smaller than the case size would have you believe.
- And while the case is rated at 11mm thick, with the double pass NATO strap on the watch, it rings in at 14.2mm thick — which, yeah.
- Oh, and the sides are flat, vertical, slabs of the case material. This means there’s no visual relief here. It looks small and chunky.
- The movement is quiet. It’s not a bother at all. Timex, take note.
- The strap width is 16mm, and for those of you who think 19mm is annoying — try 16mm. You’ll likely end up sticking with the strap it comes with, which makes the case+strap height all the more relevant.
- Visually, I like the look of it when it’s not on my wrist. It feels compelling and like I want to put it on.
- The NATO strap is nicely made, and nothing to complain about.
- I don’t like the way it looks on my wrist. Not because it is too small, I think the size is fine, but because I simply don’t enjoy the look. Again, off my wrist it looks good to me, on my wrist and it falls flat for me.
- 3atm is pretty bad water resistance and I know people have feelings about field watches and how much WR they should have, but they should be swimmable for a modern field watch.
- The glow is in a dead lock with Seiko’s Lumibrite for being among the best I’ve owned. It’s really fantastic stuff. I believe them when they rate the glow at 8hrs.
- The length of the hands is well done, they sit very nicely.
There’s nothing terrible about this watch, a lot of nice things, and yet nothing really wow about it.
As you might have guessed, this is simply not a watch I enjoy wearing. I struggle with most field watches, so no surprise there. This is a well made, and well executed watch. It’s plain, but it’s highly functional. If I needed a watch that I knew would always work, but didn’t look like a GSHOCK, Marathon is the company I would turn to. And this GPQ is a strong contender there.
With an MSRP of $280 it’s a tough call. I think $150-175 and this is a solid deal. Much more than that, and it feels like you are paying a lot more not to go and buy a GSHOCK. For the $80 I spent, I’m going to stash it away in my emergency bag — what a deal.