Nothing in cart
CSAR Marathon: Hands-on with Search & Rescue Timepiece
I've waited several years in my relationship as a fan of the brand to review the current king of Marathon watches - and I have to say, the wait is worth it. The CSAR Marathon is simply a fantastic tool watch, and wears its crown by being not only the largest Marathon watch to date but also the most expensive. "CSAR" stands for "Chronograph Search & Rescue," making it the bigger brother and features the chronograph of the more popular three-handed Marathon GSAR. You do have to be in a "tool watch" mood to really like this watch, but for many collectors having CSAR in your collection is a sensible thing to do.
Marathon CSAR Back in the Day
Marathon is a historic watchmaker based in Canada and also a military supplier. Today it may remain the last actual "Government Problems" watch in the Western World. Therefore, this watch is manufactured according to actual Government specifications (for the US, Canada, UK and others), and has an official NATO stock number. The Marathon watch assembly plant has been using the brand since 1938 and is located in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland.
The acronym “CSAR” stands for “Chronograph Search And Rescue” which is a little distracting. I mean, the name is accurate, but maybe it needs a little luxurious touch. Just calling, CSAR might be fine, or CSAR Jumbo might work too. A note about the 46mm wide (18mm thick) case size: Yes, CSAR is big and heavy. It also looks really cool. If you don't like a bigger watch, that's okay because there are plenty of other watches out there for you. There's a reason this watch is 46mm wide, and if you can do it with that size too, this watch is a delight to wear.
The case is also water resistant up to 300 meters and has a flat AR-plated sapphire crystal on top of the dial. The lug-to-lug distance is about 55mm, and considering all the steel of the watch, the CSAR should be worn snugly around your wrist to avoid falling too many times. Marathon actually sells CSAR on this rubber strap and steel metal bracelet option. Both are honestly great choices. On the bracelet, it is a watch as big as I can use, but it is actually quite comfortable, although I think to be safe, I recommend that most people try CSAR with a rubber strap first.
The reason CSAR is 46mm wide, in my opinion, is the fact that it allows the dial size to ideally blend readability with a display that doesn't cut or overlap any dial elements. While I personally agree with dials that have overlapping elements and numbers, some watch enthusiasts just can't handle it. I sympathize with them, and I think those folks will love the way the Marathon Jumbo Chrono treats the dial indicator. It's true that Marathon also makes the JDD Diver watch that is 46mm wide. It's a fun watch, but it lacks the "completeness" of the CSAR with chronograph subdials and screw-down presses.
Speaking of the pushers, the knob screw caps and plungers all have a really nice, precise bump texture that offers good grip and isn't too sharp. The extra-thick (high) steel swivel bezel is printed with a glowing marker, and it's fun to turn (feels really “expensive”.) The watch dial is devoid of anything that might be considered decorative. This watch dial is just as easy as a tank - and that's why we love it.
While not really trying to be a "watch by design," CSAR does a lot of things like proportion, finish, durability and legibility, so the end result can be called a beauty - even if it's not the queen of the show. This watch has a very quiet macho vibe. It's not really attention-seeking, but it doesn't matter if you pay attention to the muscles.
Don't forget also that the dial uses a tritium gas cylinder made in Switzerland that glows naturally in the dark for at least 20 years. Marathon did a fantastic job incorporating it into the chronograph subdial, as well as the main hands and hour markers. Inside the watch is a Swiss Made ETA Valjoux 7750 automatic chronograph movement. If there is a good time to call the 7750 a "hard worker," now is the time. This movement runs at 4 Hz and has a two-day power reserve. It displays time, day / date calendar, and 12 hour chronograph.
Truly the only shot I can think of to take part in the CSAR Marathon is the bracelet. It looks and feels fine, but it could be a little more expensive (tighter tolerances and sturdier steel to fit the case) and have a clasp that didn't stop fitting on mainstream luxury watches some 20 years ago. Again, the application is fine. It will last you a long time, but lacks the touch experience of very finely worked and polished metal (as long as it is stamped).
For me, CSAR is the perfect watch, it comes in many sizes. It feels a little expensive these days, by competitive standards, but it's a very carefully crafted watch authentically designed for military conflict. Marathon sold this to the government and the armed forces. That means they need to justify the price in a way that makes Swiss luxury brands cringe.
Price and Perks
The intense focus on functionality and utility gives the Marathon Jumbo CSAR its very distinctive personality. It's like the adult version brings an action figure warrior with you. It's kind of a toy, but you can look serious when you carry it around. There would be a lot of people cursing the big size, but regardless of the weight, the proportions on the dial are excellent - and it really saved it, aesthetically. It's great fun to wear, and because military watches are always "in", the designs are quite versatile and fashionable. Because of that, I hope Marathon starts to get more stylish with CSAR. It can use an all-black treatment, for sure (it will help visually wear smaller), as well as several different polishing or aesthetic treatments. The new bracelet clasp might also be a welcome upgrade. CSAR Marathon is still quite well known by many collectors and is therefore also underestimated. The reference Marathon Jumbo Diver / Pilot's Automatic Chronograph “CSAR” 46mm WW194014BRACE has a retail price of $ 3,440 USD. Get one now on Gnomon Store.