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Jeep Hooks Up With Marathon, Maker of Hardcore Outdoorsy Watches

The Marathon Rubicon GSAR and TSAR, and the Willys Officer's Series GPM and GPQ, are serious watches with enough differences from their unbranded kin to be worth your while.

Quick—what’s the Jeep of watches? A rugged, GADA (go anywhere, do anything) sorta piece that won’t flood if you drop it in the mud? Quite a few pieces fit the bill—Citizen's Promaster Tough comes to mind—but it is to Jeep’s sincere credit that some knowing watch dorks might instantly conjure up a Marathon in their heads. Specifically, the -SAR (Search And Rescue) series—the quartz TSAR and the automatic GSAR.

Why? Well, like modern Jeep’s primordial wartime ancestors, the Ford GPW and the Willys MB, Marathon has a legitimate history as a producer of government/military-issued timepiece; most of the company's watches are sold to various governments, and several models are issued to U.S. military forces. The asymmetrical Navigator was designed in the mid-1980s and is a legit mil-spec (not just mil-spec-like) watch for aviators.

The TSAR, GSAR, and GPM are likewise specialized and have a track record to prove it—the SAR line is officially issued to the Canadian armed forces. The tangible mil-spec connection means a lot to tool watch nuts, especially given the massive number of “military-inspired” pieces, or even more tenuous startups with little but the name of a once-notable brand to back up their heritage claims. There’s even the name—Marathon’s General Purpose line, shortened to “GP,” recalls one of many possible origins of the Jeep name itself.

Marathon is known for using constantly luminous tritium (H3) gas tubes—that radiation symbol (and the H3) on the dial isn’t there just for shock value. Unlike modern luminous paint, which requires activation by light before it’ll re-emit a glow in the dark, the tritium tubes are always glowing. The beta radiation emitted by the gas interacts with phosphorescent material inside the tube, producing light. They also have a half-life of 12 years, so they’ll be half as bright when that time elapses. (I’ve owned an older Marathon Navigator, and even half-bright tubes are still effective in the dark.)

The Marathon x Jeep collaboration comprises four pieces: a Rubicon GSAR (above), a Rubicon TSAR (below), and a mechanical and quartz GP Officer's Series (discussed further down) with stainless steel cases and Willys branding. And there’s more going on here than merely the Jeep branding; each of the watches have enough changes to stand on their own. Again, these pass the test—real, serious tool watches with enough differences to make the Jeep collab versions interesting in their own right. There are even Easter eggs, of a sort: check out the headlight-and-seven-slot-grille logo on the side of the case.

Let’s start with the G/TSAR, 41mm, 300-m-rated dive watches that have some notable differences with their non-Jeep kin. For one, there’s the prominent 15-minute count-up indicator in bright red, which resembles the redline area of a tachometer—useful, and eye-catching too. The GSAR also features a finely divided second scale at the outer rim of the dial, which the TSAR omits. The Jeep branding is prominent and pushes the Marathon branding to the bottom of the dial, but despite all the elements (and the 4:30-situated date window) the dial isn’t overly crowded. Another difference: the inclusion of MaraGlo, which is usually reserved for the non-tritium watches. The Jeep SARs still have the tritium tubes, but the chunkier Arabic numerals are now done up in MaraGlo, and moreover the font has changed from the no-nonsense thin sans serif on the original SARs to a Jeep-inspired, military-look font (complete with “simulated patina”) on the Jeeps.

See? More than just co-branding. Meanwhile, the GPM and GPQ field watches are very, very different from the non-Jeep versions, in ways that will make them extremely interesting to field watch fans regardless of the Jeep branding. Right now, the General Purpose Mechanical/Quartz lineup is entirely 36mm pieces, either in steel or polycarbonate cases with either tritium tube or MaraGlo dials. But these Jeep GPs Officer's Series are instead 41mm parkerized steel cases, a more modern case size.

That said, the dials are decidedly retro, with faux aged MaraGlo on the alpha-style hands and the Arabic numerals on the dial. There’s a little Hamilton Khaki Field to the dial design, but it’s its own unique thing. For one, the numeral font is different, still Jeep-inspired if a little skinnier. And the normal GPs have pill-shaped indices with a simple second scale around the dial, with smaller 24-hour numerals on an inner track. The Jeeps ditch all of that IP, going for an outer seconds track demarcated in 5-second intervals with small white numerals. Inside of that, there’s a round element with even finer scale on the GPM version. Where the regular GP is simple on the edge of the dial and complicated within, the Jeep GPs are the opposite. Again, it’s a well-balanced dial that’s tasteful in its own right.

Taking a look under the casebook, there are several different workhorse Swiss movements at work in these watches.

  • Jeep Rubicon GSAR: Selita SW200-1 Automatic

  • Jeep Rubicon TSAR: ETA F06.412 Quartz

  • Jeep Rubicon SSGPM: Selita SW210-1 Mechanical (Hand-Winding)

  • Jeep Rubicon SSGPQ: ETA F06.402 Quartz

In terms of pricing, the watches will list at the following prices and go on sale today.

  • Jeep Rubicon GSAR: $1,500

  • Jeep Rubicon TSAR: $1,200

  • Jeep Rubicon SSGPM: $650

  • Jeep Rubicon SSGPQ: $500

Marathon describes each of these as “limited edition” releases but the number that will be produced hasn’t been detailed. They will be available online from Marathon and at some Marathon watch dealers.

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