I’ll admit it: While many of my peers had Flik Flaks, Shark watches, and G-Shocks as introductions to the wide world of watches, my earliest days were spent with a bevy of digital models from Timex, and those loveable watches have had a lasting impression upon me.
My journey began with an Ironman – a story I have shared here – and a few years later, I was the proud owner of a grey and black Timex Expedition. Where the Ironman felt sporty and unassuming, the Expedition was my first true introduction to ruggedly capable no-nonsense watches. And while I cannot go out and buy a new version of my original Ironman, Timex has recently created ten colorful versions of the Expedition. Unfortunately for me, they’re made for the Japanese market. I’m not exactly itching to get on a plane right now, but I want one so bad I’m considering swimming over.
Originally launched in 1985, the Expedition – which came to the states in 1991 – is called the Atlantis in Japan; the watches are otherwise quite similar. This new line is called the Atlantis Nuptse (or “Nupsi” in Japan), and its rainbow of colors nods to the adventurous roots of the Expedition – and the bright colors common to the cold-weather Himalayan outerwear. (“Nuptse” is a combination of the Tibetan words for “West” and “Peak”).
Pricing starts at JPY 8,800 (that’s about $ 85), and the spread includes everything from more standard fare like my original grey-black model to a version with a bracelet, a “Search and Rescue” model in bright red and lime green, and the two versions seen here, the “Mountain” in white and the bold “Forest Service” in green and yellow.
As this is a JDM exclusive, not all of the details are known. I was able to confirm that the Nuptse collection is not specifically limited (aside from the JDM part) and that a handful are available on eBay via flippers that have (as always) jacked the price way up. While the Expedition was previously discontinued in the U.S., various iterations still exist in other markets (Canada, for example) and these cheap and cheerful Nuptse models are the result of a connection with a Japanese distributor. Timex says a USDM return of the Expedition remains “open for discussion.”
Regardless of color or title, these models stay true to form with a 40mm resin case (my calipers read 39mm from bump-to-bump), 10mm thick, 44mm lug-to-lug, and just 27 grams – with the strap! Wrist presence has not changed much in the (roughly) three decades since I owned an Expedition, with a very thin and light footprint matched by a smooth and pliable resin strap. The buttons are a bit of a pain to use with adult-sized fingers, but the screen is sharp, the UI is simple, and, while the feature set is basic (time, chrono, alarm, timer, second time-zone), it’s useful and unobtrusive.
The nostalgic pull is strong with these, especially for 85 bucks. And while I’m not at all wild about the two colorways we were fortunate enough to get in for photography, I do think that each and every version has its own charm that adds a bit of childlike fun into an otherwise straightforward and accessible watch.
While I was wholly unable to source one to call my own directly out of Japan, I would love to see Timex do more like this with some of their ’90s designs. Not only was it a blast to relive my adventurous youth for a few Indiglo-soaked moments, but both of my young children immediately asked if they could each wear one. They see all of the watches that come and go for my work, and this was a first. Just as the Expedition spoke to me some 25 years ago, these colorful and delightful watches immediately spoke to my kids, and they loved wearing them (and informing me of the time on a minute-to-minute basis).
So, no, you can’t easily get one. But in my mind, that’s secondary to my appreciation of Timex for making these and my plea that they continue to make fun, lighthearted gateway watches that can both spark and re-ignite a fascination with watches. Oh, and please bring them to our shores, too.
Model: Atlantis Nuptse
Diameter: 40mm (39mm from 9:00 to 3:00)
Lug to lug: 44mm
Weight: 27 grams
Lug width: 19mm
Case Material: Resin
Dial Color: Digital, positive LCD
Water Resistance: 100 meters
Strap/Bracelet: Color-matched resin strap with pin buckle (one model with a metal bracelet).
Caliber: Timex digital quartz
Functions: Time, date, chronograph, alarm, timer, second time-zone
Pricing & Availability
Price: JP 8,800 (~$ 85)
Availability: Japan exclusive