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Simply elegant: Timex’s Giorgio Galli on his eponymous timepiece

Everyone’s talking about the streamlined automatic that costs less than £500

Giorgio Galli

You may not have noticed, but one of the most disruptive brands in fashion at the moment is not a ready-to-wear label but a watchmaker. For nearly a decade, Timex has been stealthily creating new models that plug into the zeitgeist by smartly striking a balance between fun collaborative projects and elegant, uncluttered designs. Over the past three years especially, there have been some ingenious partnerships under the leadership of the company’s Italian design director Giorgio Galli, including the 2019 union with cult sportswear brand Supreme which produced a limited series of digital watches that sold out in seconds. Other big hits include a collaboration with British menswear designer Nigel Cabourn and the recently released Timex x Hypebeast M79 model – a sell-out sports watch with an eye-catching fuchsia and navy bezel, limited to just 500 pieces. 

Timex X Space Invaders

Timex x Space Invaders, £85

Timex knows how to create a buzz, but the business is also keen to rekindle the brand’s 20th century charm, reissuing cool, retro designs from the 1970s and 1980s, a time that most watchmakers would rather forget because of the quartz crisis. It also plays up to its pop culture credentials: on sale at the moment is the quirky Timex T80 x Space Invaders model which actually plays the game’s unforgettable electronic sounds.

Giorgio Galli S1 Automatic in Atlantic Blue 38mm, £425

Giorgio Galli S1 Automatic in Atlantic Blue 38mm, £425

What’s important to note, however, is the idea of equilibrium that Galli has established within the company, offsetting the brand’s adventurous and playful side with a more serious pledge towards pure, unadulterated form, namely in the shape of his eponymous Giorgio Galli S1 Automatic. First released in 2019, this sleek, super minimalist 41mm model was an instant hit with consumers and was hailed by industry folk as a masterstroke of clean, conservative design thanks to its uncluttered dial and cage-like case which has a sweeping, almost architectural look.

It’s no wonder it has become a hero product: as a designer, Galli is a self-confessed purist who considers every line and contour in relation to comfort and wearability. His materials-driven aesthetic puts the onus on simplicity, affordability, elegance and tactility, but this watch had to go against the grain, as he explains: “With the S1, I wanted to create something completely different, that wasn’t influenced by market trends. I felt that historically, Timex had a powerful legacy but having worked here for many years, I wanted to condense some of these ideas, to strip them back and show them through a new lens. [The S1] is my version of a ‘Grand Timex’, a niche proposal that is fairly priced but more elevated, more of a prestige product.”

Giorgio Galli S1 Automatic 38mm caseback

Brand new to the fold is the 38mm-wide iteration of the Giorgio Galli S1 Automatic, powered by a Japanese Miyota calibre 9039 which has a power reserve of 42 hours. The watch is available in a trio of sunburst dials – Inverness Green, Atlantic Blue, and Iceland Stone Grey – tones that are inspired by Galli’s love of photography. “The reason the watch bears my name is that I wanted to take full responsibility for this model,” he said. “It’s also my way of creating my own statement in the company, to place myself within its history. The watch carries a lot of elements that I’ve applied to other designs over the years. For example, the cutouts on the case [the deep side slits that sweep into the lugs] is a construction that I conceived many years ago for a Nautica [Timex Group] watch, refined for this model. They lend a strong futuristic feel to the timepiece.”

Galli did not expect the watch to be the runaway success that it is. “It’s not that I didn’t think it should be a success. I did! It’s just that in the watchworld, it’s almost impossible to predict how a product will be received. It can take years, so when it doesn’t, it’s even more of a surprise.”

Timex Giorgio Galli S1 Automatic 38mm in Inverness Green

Timex Giorgio Galli S1 Automatic 38mm in Inverness Green

The S1 part of the name stands for “Series 1”, which suggests Galli has more models in the pipeline. So is an affordable S1 chronograph a consideration? “Affordability is important and chronographs are expensive watches for our audience,” he said. “You have to know your customer. I may explore the idea of a GMT, but let’s see how the series evolves.

“Making a good looking watch and maintaining a fair price point is actually very complicated. For example, we use metal injection modelling for the case which is less costly than creating separate parts but it also ensures accuracy for a strong industrial look. The Japanese movement is very good quality but the fact that it is not Swiss is an additional save. It gives exactly the same results. The straps are made of high quality rubber, which was really important to me. There are certain elements in the S1 which you would expect in a much more expensive watch. How you execute your vision is what matters.”

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