The Marathon TSAR watch goes by many names: the Dive, the Search and Rescue, the Diver’s Quartz Watch. It’s one of the two staple watches of the Marathon range, and it was built with both design and functionality in mind. No expense has been spared in crafting the perfect long-lasting search and rescue watch in the case of the TSAR, but it looks as at-home on a doctor’s wrist as it does a soldier’s.

The TSAR is a luxury watch at a luxury price point, but for a more budget-friendly option, Marathon also offers the Marathon Navigator Pilot’s Quartz Men’s Analog Sport Watch, which echoes similar design and functionality with a more casual look.

The features


The Marathon Search & Rescue Diver’s Quartz Watch is a hefty luxury watch made to withstand incredible conditions. It was sized and designed to be used by Search and Rescue divers in the US military, and is also known as the Marathon Tritium Search and Rescue (TSAR) Watch. Marathon has a number of styles that look similar and also makes an automatic version of this same watch, so just so you can make sure you’re referencing the right watch when you go to purchase, the TSAR’s product code is WW194007.

Manufactured under ISO 6425 standards, the Diver’s Quartz watch is water resistant down to 1000 feet/300 metres. It’s made from 316L surgical grade stainless steel, and the “glass” that protects this watch’s sturdy inner workings is in fact synthetic antireflective sapphire. (Tech geeks may note a similarity between this surface and the one that covers iPhone cameras. Apple switched over to sapphire only for their camera coverings–not for the smartphone’s screen–as sapphire is more durable and scratch-resistant than glass. The surface of the TSAR watch is similar, but much larger and thicker.)

The TSAR, which is US military issue for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, is self-illuminated with tritium gas tubes that last for up to 25 years, making its face fully-functional even deep underwater. It uses high-torque, 3 jewel Quartz movement with an end-of-life indicator, and comes with a unique NATO stock number engraved on the back.

marathon-dive-tsar-interchangeable-bandsThe wear

I’m too small to wear and test this men’s watch for a review, which was a bit of a bummer–I love the design of the TSAR, and it looks really edgy and functional on a woman’s wrist. I have it photographed here on my wrist so you can see the effect. At 41mm, it’s wider than my wrist, but a taller woman could definitely get away with wearing it.

With that in mind, I foisted this watch upon my lucky partner to test it out. He noted how handsome it was while putting it on for the first time (while boggling at the fact that the entire face covering is sapphire), and almost immediately asked why there was a little radiological symbol on the watch face.

I did a little bit more reading and found out that the glow-in-the-dark hour markers and hands are actually lit by self contained Tritium gas tubes, an isotope of hydrogen that is used in watches, instruments, and nuclear weapons. Tritium was chosen for the TSAR watch because it does not dull down in brightness, so divers’ watch faces are still lit at 1000 feet underwater. It is, yes, radioactive, but at such a low level that it poses no risk to the wearer.

marathon-dive-tsar-watch-reviewFor the larger 12 hour bezel marker, the TSAR uses MaraGlow, which is orange instead of the standard yellow-green glow of luminescent watch faces.

The TSAR follows such a classic design ethos that it’s easy to style with a wide variety of looks, and it definitely looks like an upgraded everyday watch. It follows the mechanics of a dive watch to a tee: a crystal watch face, silicone or rubber band, water resistance, a corrosion-resistant metal casing, a dive bezel that rotates counter-clockwise, and a longer watch band to fit around bulky dive equipment. But, with its non-traditional rubber band and bezel, it has a distinctly rugged look that gives an edge to any style.

Like most dive watches, I find that the TSAR is best worn with a business casual look. It really shines against a peacoat or leather jacket, and looks great with a dress shirt. It adds subtle refinement to a casual look as well, though, and also looks at-home with worn leather gloves, t-shirts, and jeans. If worn by a woman, it shines on a larger frame and pairs well with casual, androgynous outfits.

The watch bandmarathon-dive-mens-watch

The TSAR features interchangeable vulcanized rubber watch bands, which are easy to change out with the right tools. They attach to the watch lugs with retractable metal pins, and can be easily removed by pushing the pins in and sliding the band out–I used the key that came with my partner’s Samsung Galaxy smartphone to depress the pins, and it was the perfect fit.

The TSAR is an extremely hefty watch at 110 grams (Marathon’s two other primary watch models weigh in at 42 and 28 grams each), and while I found it to be heavy enough to encumber my range of motion, my partner noted that you get used to the weight within a day or two. In fact, with its secure rubber band, he found the TSAR to be an extremely comfortable watch to wear, despite its weight.

Is the TSAR right for you?

marathon-tsar-watch-reviewAll in all, the Marathon Search & Rescue Diver’s Quartz Watch is an all-around excellent watch for casual wear. It’s extremely durable, and water-resistant to a much higher standard than most watches. If you live an active lifestyle, and especially if you dive recreationally or professionally, it is absolutely worth checking out.

I’ve asked my partner to test out quite a few products over the past few months, but this is the only one that has stuck out for him. He wears it almost every day, and is heartbroken that it will need to be sent back–the life of a reviewer isn’t all glamorous, after all. Among other things (like the fact that it’s built from tritium and sapphire), he always notes how stylish he thinks it is, and how comfortable it is to wear around.

As for my thoughts on the watch? Having only truly appreciated it secondhand, I’ll say this: the fact that he loves the TSAR gives me faith in his aesthetic development. He makes some truly questionable style decisions, but this is a watch that we can both agree on!

Check out the Marathon Diver’s Watch at Best Buy, or give the rest of the Marathon range a look.

Rae Chen
Rae Chen covers everything from handbags to speakers here on the Best Buy Plug-in Blog. They can also be found at, where they've been writing about beauty & wellness since 2007.