With watches designed in Canada and manufactured in Switzerland – the Marathon Watch company combines the best of both worlds.
Though, originally launched in 1904 as Weinsturm Watch, the Wein Brothers, founders of the company, renamed and registered the brand as Marathon in 1939. Ever since its inception, to date, Marathon draws attention to its military-grade watches. During its initial years, Marathon supplied watches to the Allies of World War II. Currently, they continue to develop military watches for the United States Armed Forces.
In this article, we will learn more about Marathon’s history, some iconic watch collections, reviews from watch aficionados, and where you can buy them.
Marathon Brand History
This fourth-generation family-run business puts its history of watching making and advancing technology to build authentic military watches with contemporary designs. The Swiss seal ensures high-level craftsmanship, accuracy, and precision. Most of all, the brand’s long-standing history with armed forces across the world stands as a testament to its quality and legitimacy. Marathon takes pride in being able to pass down watches to generations. This is because of its rigorous quality control and tests for vibrations, shocks, precision timekeeping, etc.
Reading about the brand’s history, it becomes evident that Marathon is not after fame or popularity. Their true mission remains to make top-grade military watches. The first-ever contract the brand took in 1941 was for the British forces during World War II.
Ever since, various other military forces from across the world like Israel and the US, have worn Marathon watches to the front. With 80 years of specialization in mechanical tool watches, Marathon keeps in mind the needs of military personnel while designing their watches. Especially for the US Armed Forces, Marathon watches complies with the US military standards to engineer tailor-made features.
For instance, Marathon’s MIL-SPEC watches are in compliance with MIL-PRF-46374G Type III, Class 1 US Government Specification for Navy SEALs and armed forces.
Marathon watches are available to the public as well. The brand believes everyone should have a chance to own a good-quality military watch. Supporting this mission, Marathon watches are available worldwide. In addition to wristwatches, Marathon also makes pocket watches, clocks, optical equipment, and watch accessories.
Marathon Watch Collections
The Marathon website showcases three main collections based on features – Dive, Navigator, General Purpose. Let’s take a closer look at their features and built-in components.
Dive (SAR) Collection
Marathon dive watches come in three sizes – medium at 36 mm, large at 41 mm, and jumbo at 46 mm. Each size gives you an option to pick either an automatic or quartz movement. All the watches available on the official website do not allow you to choose government markings. Whereas, some watches bought on Amazon can have “US Government” embossed below the logo on the dial.
The Arctic Edition Large Diver’s Automatic watch comes with a self-winding Marathon M2 movement, whereas the Quartz counterpart comes with High torque quartz 3 jewels. US troops wear this edition as part of search and rescue operations. Thereby, deriving the name Dive (SAR) – Dive Search and Rescue. Ensuring maximum visibility underwater or in dark conditions, the timepiece part of this collection comes with Tritium gas tubes and Maraglo™. The Tritium gas self-illuminates for up to 25 years. Resistant up to 1000 feet and engineered with 316L surgical grade stainless steel, reliability is undeniable.
The Jumbo Diver/Pilot’s Automatic Chronograph (CSAR) takes after the Arctic edition with a few upgrades. For one, pilots wear this watch for search and rescue missions from the air. But, can also double up as a diver’s SAR watch. Equipped with a self-winding automatic 25 jewels, ETA 7750 Movement, the timepiece is water-resistant up to 1000 feet. Secondly, the timepiece comes engineered with a dual chronograph to record split-second speed and time readings. Built-in a 46 mm dial, the date, and date slot finds its place at 3 o’clock. You can also choose between stainless steel bracelet or a rubber strap.
Navigator (NAV) Collection
Marathon Navigator collection comes in two styles – with the date and without a date slot. Other features remain constant as part of this collection. You can choose between three shades – black, sage green, desert tan. The outer bezel of the watch and the strap made of nylon take the same shade, giving the watch a rugged military look.
The Navigator timepieces come equipped with ETA FØ6 Movement and Tritium gas tubes for reading in the darkness. Developed at the request of Kelly Air Force Base, the fiber shell ensures shockproof and can withstand extreme pressure in high altitudes. Above all, this collection comes with an End of Life (EOL) indicator to let you know when the battery needs a change. The one with the date edition displays the date window between 4 and 5 o’clock.
Easy to read, lightweight, and can withstand extreme rapid changing temperatures – makes this collection perfect for pilots and parachutists.
General Purpose Field Watch Collection
Marathon’s General Purpose collection takes inspiration from one of Marathon’s historic timepieces, GG-W-113, used in the 1980s. Available in mechanical and quartz movements, this General Purpose collection makes reading time easy in all conditions. With a simple black dial, this collection offers similar three shades as the Navigator collection – black, sage green, and desert tan.
The mechanical timepieces come designed with 24 Jewel NH35 self-winding movements. The quartz timepieces come with the High Torque quartz ETA FØ6 movement. Alternatively, known as field watch, this collection makes a perfect fit for general infantry or everyday civilian needs. For non-military use, the General Purpose collection offers a sturdy, sporty-looking watch, with durability and weightlessness.
With water resistance up to 100 feet, the fiber shell matte finish aids protection by eliminating any reflections from the watch that can give away their location. The MaraGlo photo-luminescent paint on the dial and hour hands ensure reading time in ultimate darkness.
Marathon Brand Reputation
Overall, Marathon garners a very good name for its quality of watches. The brand’s most loyal patrons include various armed forces from around the world. There is no doubt of bad quality or poor finishing with Marathon watches. Given that they go through strict certification, not only in Switzerland to get the Swiss-made seal but also with US Armed Forces, ensures dependability for many years.
According to Marathon, these are not merely tool watches but a companion for life. This statement stands true even today, mainly because Marathon watches are worth passing down generations.
Yes, all their collections are tool watches, but that doesn’t make them heavy for daily wear. In fact, Marathon watches with the fiber shell are extremely light, making them perfect for all occasions. Moreover, Marathon watches are not very expensive. When we talk about military-grade watches, they attract a heavy price making it difficult for many to get their hands on. So if you are looking for an affordable, yet, highly functional tool watch, Marathon makes a worthy contender.
Is Marathon A Good Watch Brand?
Watch lovers definitely recommend investing in Marathon. Although the brand does not publicize heavily or use celebrity endorsements, customers who have worn Marathon swear by its efficiency. Those who are wary about buying a Marathon, have issues with the tritium tube, a radioactive material. However, watch aficionados believe that the level of tritium is very low to cause any distress on account of radioactive material and is very safe to use for years.
Like all watch brands, Marathon watches, too, attract divided opinions. On the flip side are those who cannot justify the price of the watch given its simplicity compared to other military-grade brands. This is mainly because this side of the group feels Marathon uses not well-made mechanical versions with inexpensive movements. The counter to this, many watch lovers believe, Marathon offers exactly what it promises for the price. They last for many years, have military approval, their quality and precision, well built for extreme conditions.
Often compared to other top tactical watches such as Luminox or Lum-Tec, many prefer Marathon watches in part due to the military spec certifications.
If you are in the market for a sturdy tool watch and have the budget, Marathon watches are definitely worth considering. We’ve recommended them on the site multiple times including them in our list of best tool watches for example.
However, we recommend considering all options like budget, utility, functions, features, etc., before investing in one. Don’t let one opinion on the internet sway your mind.
Where To Buy Marathon Watches?
Marathon watches are available on their official website. The official online store ships to most countries, however, if you cannot find your country on the list.
Amazon is another place to find Marathon watches.
A word of caution, other watch brands including Timex and Citizen have watch collections named Marathon. While it’s unlikely you’d confuse these, be sure to check before investing in the right brand.
Where Are Marathon Made?
Canadian design, Swiss build – the unison of both these essence makes Marathon Watch company what it is today. The facilities are located in Vaughan, Canada, and La Chaux de Fonds, Switzerland. The facility in Canada purely oversees design and distribution once manufactured.
Whereas, the facility in Switzerland, co-run with Gallet & co., is responsible for manufacturing, assembling, and testing final products.
Marathon offers up to 2 years of warranty on all their watches. This extends to manufacturing and workmanship defects, but not to damage by misuse, negligence, normal wear, and tear, or irregular application. Upon confirming a defect, Marathon will repair the damage or replace the item with a similar value.
In the event of returning the watch, be sure to do so within 30 days from the date of purchase. You cannot return used or worn watches. They must also retain all original packaging and tags. Marathon welcomes customers to reach out to them directly in the event of any assistance with their products. You can find the contact details on the warranty page.