Timex Easy Reader 35mm Review (T20461): Let’s Bring Back Expansion Bands
By: Mike Razak
There is no other place to start this Timex review than with a discussion of the bracelet. It’s called an expansion band. And they used to be THE THING. Brought to the mainstream in 1959 by Speidel and marketed as “Twist-O-Flex,” the expansion band was massively popular in the 1960s on through the 1970s. So popular, in fact, that a Spediel-made expansion band was available on early Speedmasters. This also explains why you’ll usually see them on 60- and 70-year olds—it’s what they were raised on. And there’s no more “grab and go” band than this: no clasp to lock, no buckle to fasten. Just stretch it, slide it on, and go.
Very few watches (I can’t think of any outside of Timex) come standard with an expansion band, and so it’s a treat here – as Timex have fitted end links to make it both comfortable and aesthetically pleasing. I found it entirely convenient and eminently comfortable [N.B: If you have hairy wrists, you will have a very different experience]. This is no muss, no fuss; an easy bracelet for a simple watch. And with that, let’s dive in (but not literally because water resistance is only 30M).
This is the Timex Easy Reader 35mm Expansion Band Watch. That’s what the marketing gurus at Timex have dubbed it, but for the sake of simplicity, I’ll just go with “Easy Reader”. Because this watch is all about simplicity. Never mind your skeletonized dials and tourbillons and Million Dollar Watches No One Can Read.
This is an everyman’s watch. For you and your grandpa and your nephew. Does the 70-year old who works as a cashier at the grocery store by my house wear one of these every day? He sure does. Did I run into a grandpa at one of my favorite local restaurants, point out that we were both wearing the Easy Reader, and have him say “I must’ve had this watch for 15 years, I love it!”? I absolutely did. Did I see anyone even close to my own age wearing anything even close to this watch? I did not. As I said, expansion bracelets don’t get the youths going. And it’s a shame because this is a great watch.
The 35mm case is made of brass and is light but never felt flimsy. And at 8mm in height, it’s unassuming and slips under just about any cuff. While I don’t know why—whether purely visual or functional—the lugs have an interior chamfer or cutaway as they approach the case. Take a look and you’ll see what I mean. In any case (Ha!), I think it adds a little something to an otherwise fairly staid design. The top of the 18mm lugs feature a brushed finish (which matches the bracelet links), while the rest of the case is polished.
Crown functionality is as good as I suppose it needs to be. Larger fingers may have some issues, as the crown itself is rather small. But once you set the watch, apart from the battery going on you, you’ll only have to reset it a few times a year, at worst. The crystal is run-of-the-mill mineral glass, because this is about a $30 Timex. Even so, I found almost no visibility issues, likely on account of the clean white dial, with crisp black numerals. And that $30 gets you, as ever, a dial that is basically fully-lumed on command: Indiglo!
The Timex Easy Reader Dial
If you’re looking at the pictures here and feel like that dial is familiar, it’s because it’s a common field watch layout. But I was reminded more of railroad watches. Many brands, new and old, have made watches for railroad use with this exact dial design: clean white base, crisp black numerals, with smaller red numerals for the 24-hour track. Timex doesn’t mention either field or railroad use in their listing of the watch, though. So maybe they just did it for sheer readability (which, I remind you, is literally the name of the game for this watch).
Whatever lay behind their dial machinations, I think it works. It’s an effortlessly clean look that makes this watch a pleasure to look at (I’ve always been a sucker for clean dials), and—you guessed it—exceptionally easy to read at a glance. Because the dial is black and white, the inclusion of both day and date are minimally disruptive, as the wheels both share the color scheme of the dial. While the date can be set in either direction, there is no quickset mechanism for the day. It’s one of few flaws with the dial. I do wish it had a bit more texture and depth, but again: $30 Timex.
The movement is quartz. If that’s a dealbreaker, I’m honestly shocked you’ve made it this far. In fact, I’m surprised you clicked on the article in the first place. It’s a Timex. They make 3 models that aren’t quartz, and they are all Marlins (a total of 15 watches of the 598 they sell, if you want to get specific). But if you’re still with me, I appreciate you. Quartz is the pinnacle of practicality. Set it and forget it.
I’d usually do a bit about how the watch plays with other straps, as I have a serious strap swapping problem. But that’s not the point of this watch. You don’t take the expansion band off. To quote Homer Simpson, why eat hamburger when you can have steak?
The Timex Easy Reader 35mm Expansion Band Watch does everything it’s supposed to and nothing more: it is a paragon of legibility, an exemplar of wearability, and with its expansion band and quartz movement, The Actual President of convenience.
If you’re still not convinced, here’s a list of things I did while wearing this watch:
- Went for a nature walk
- Drove a car (2012 Honda CR-V)
- Properly cared for an 18-month old human
- Wore shorts, a T-shirt, and driving moccasins (no belt)
- Wore a suit (with a belt)
- Went to and ate dinner
- Engaged with at least one septuagenarian
- Completed the duties, as assigned, of my job
- Told multiple people what time it was, with only the briefest of glances at my wrist
- Packed up half my house in preparation for moving
Seriously, this watch has you covered. And at about $30, you’ll be able to buy an SKX for everything else life throws at you.
Mike became obsessed with watches in 2015 after spending an inordinate amount of time finding the perfect wedding watch (the Frederique Constant Slimline Automatic). He prefers a well-executed date window or none at all, and strives for a diverse collection with limited overlap. When not fretting over which watch to wear with which strap, he works as an emergency mental health clinician in Northern Virginia, where he lives with his wife and son.