Introducing: The Marathon 46mm Arctic JDD

Everybody’s favorite military timepiece manufacturer is back with a white-dialed tank of a dive watch

March 3, 2023 11:00 am
Marathon Arctic Diver

Contemporary military watches are few and far between. Or, dedicated contemporary military watches, we should say — the truth is that today, most soldiers aren’t issued a watch, and many spring for something inexpensive, robust, and digital, like a G-SHOCK. However, there are still a few vestiges of the old horological order producing good, old-fashioned, mechanical tool watches that are designed, from the ground up, for soldiering.

Marathon is one such company. A multi-generational firm based in Canada, the brand has been making military watches since 1941, when it began producing timepieces for Allied forces during World War II. Since that time, Marathon has continued to churn out authentic “mil-spec” watches for the Canadian, American, Israeli and other armed forces — watches that include lightweight navigational models, oversized chronographs and, most especially, dive watches.

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That small circle of mil-spec gear enthusiasts is no doubt long familiar with the Marathon oeuvre, but for those who aren’t yet in the know, the firm’s dive watch offerings break down roughly along these lines: There’s the 36mm Medium Diver’s Automatic (MSAR Auto); a quartz version of the same (MSAR Quartz); the 41mm Large Diver’s Automatic (GSAR); a quartz version of the same (TSAR Quartz); the 46mm Jumbo Diver’s Quartz (JSAR); the 46mm automatic Jumbo Day/Date (JDD); and the 46mm Jumbo Diver’s/Pilot’s Automatic Chronograph (CSAR).

Each of these watches uses a robust steel case, a professional-grade Swiss movement, and — uniquely, as not many companies employ them — tritium tube illumination, in which tiny glass vials containing luminescent tritium are affixed to the watch dials for illumination in low-light situations. Each watch is further available on an Oyster-style steel bracelet or a rubber strap, and, generally, comes in multiple dial variants, including those with the U.S. Marine Corps logo, a Canadian maple leaf, the IDF’s “Duvdevan” unit and others. 

Slowly, Marathon has been expanding these offerings with timepieces that present less of a mil-spec vibe, including “Arctic” white-dial editions of certain dive watches. (Fans of fellow military watch manufacturer CWC will have noticed a similar trend occurring “across the pond” over the past few years.) Thankfully, Marathon shows no signs of slowing down its production of tried-and-true, black-dialed field and dive watches, but for those who crave the company’s robust designs in a slightly less “tactical” package, this catalog broadening is surely welcome news.

To that end, allow us to introduce to you the new 46mm Arctic JDD, a white-dialed edition of the 46mm day/date-equipped diver. Water resistant to 300m and powered by an automatic Sellita SW-220 movement with Incabloc shock absorber, this oversized diver epitomizes everything Marathon watches stand for: robustness, legibility, practicality and value. Priced at $2,100 on a rubber strap or $2,500 on a bracelet, it’s certainly not the stuff of entry-level micro-brand fare — but that’s not the point. Indeed, pick up the hefty JDD and strap it onto your wrist, and it’s immediately apparent that this is a timepiece meant for a lifetime of sub-aquatic exploration. At 46mm wide and 18mm tall, it’s certainly not for the faint of wrist, but this isn’t a watch that’s meant to fit snugly under a cuff — rather, it’s meant to be worn under a wetsuit, or with a t-shirt for after the wetsuit has come off. 

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With its mix of tritium tubes and Maraglo lume, its unidirectional, rotating dive bezel, its oversized, knurled steel crown, its 24-hour military-time scale, and its sapphire crystal, the Arctic JDD is meant for hard use. And though the design has been a fixture of the brand’s catalog for some time, the new white-dialed model is a welcome addition for those who prefer the look of a less serious watch. (A bright red seconds hand is a nice touch, aiding as it does in overall legibility against the bright white of the dial. And for those who speak both French and English — this is the watch for you: The day/date function is bilingual in both languages.)

We won’t pretend that this is the ideal everyday watch for someone who can barely fit a 40mm timepiece on their wrist without the lugs hanging over — the JDD simply won’t be comfortable. But for someone with a 7” wrist — which is fairly average — who craves a summer watch, an adventure watch, or a dedicated diver, we can hardly recommend something better for the money. (Just think about how good it’ll look reflecting the tropical sun this coming August, and you’ll see what we mean.) 

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