Vario is a Singapore-based microbrand that’s released two intriguing collections via crowdfunding since 2017, the Retro Eclipse and Empire Automatic. Retro themes helped define these collections with the Empire Automatic having a cool Art Deco vibe to boot. The brand is back with a third collection that harkens back to the trenches of WW1. Although wristwatches existed prior to the war, the modern men’s wristwatch was born out of necessity as pocket watches were cumbersome on the battlefield. Vario’s new WW1 Trench Watch faithfully revisits this era with six models that seem to have arrived intact straight from the early 20th century.
Most vintage-inspired military collections look back at the mid-century or later, such as Hamilton’s Khaki Field Mechanical 38mm, so it’s unusual to find design language from a century ago. This aesthetic is certainly less familiar than more modern field watch designs, but Vario has successfully replicated the look and feel of WW1 trench watches. The round, almost bulbous 316L stainless steel case is small by today’s standards at 37mm in diameter and 10mm in height, but still larger than watches from back in the day for a contemporary balance. The bezel is the only polished element with a brushed finish on the sides and back. A screw-down, signed onion crown sits at 4 o’clock and curved wire lugs complete the wartime look.
A double domed sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating replaces the fragile glass used on original watches and the 100m water-resistance results in a capable tool watch. Six dial variants are available with white, grey, cream or black base dials, and all feature oversized Arabic numerals and a small seconds sub-dial at 6 o’clock. Super-LumiNova C3 replaces early radioactive radium and three dial options use a faux radium colour. Strap options include crazy horse leather bund pads and/or 18mm NATO-style straps in multiple colours with steel pin buckles.
Powering the collection is the Miyota 82S5 automatic, a proven workhorse and interestingly one often used for skeletonized dials. It has 21 jewels, beats at 21,600vph (3Hz) with a 42-hour power reserve. Accuracy is rated at -20/+40 seconds per day. The caseback is solid with an engraving of a WW1 soldier, although a blank caseback for personal engraving will also be available.
Retail prices for the Vario WW1 Trench Watch start at USD 340 with an approximate 30% discount during the Kickstarter campaign, which is set to launch on November 11th, 2020. Deliveries are expected by February 2021 and all watches come with a one-year international warranty. For more information and to register for updates, visit Vario’s website.