Like a good watchmaker, Vario definitely takes its time. Based in Singapore, the nascent brand produces limited edition models in small batches and rolls out each collection one by one. Just as impressive is the company’s extraordinary range of custom watch straps, bracelets, and accessories. The straps, in particular, have already become the stuff of legend. In fact, the brand was born out of a desire to inject more personality into the straps and accessories arena. Mission: accomplished.
Previously, Vario introduced the Eclipse Collection, which delivered minimalist design and striking colour at an affordable price point. Now, the brand is back with its second model to date, better known as the Empire. Taking direct inspiration from the Art Deco period, the new collection first launched as a limited edition hand wound unit with Miyota 6T33 movement under the skin. Upon selling out the hand wound model and then soaring past its first stretch goal, Vario debuted an automatic variant, which comes powered by Seiko NH38A movement. Units are still available, but they’re limited in supply and selling out fast. In other words, if you like the look of this watch, stop reading right now and head over to Kickstarter to make a pledge.
Distinguishing Vario’s watches from the competition is not just a commitment to quality and affordability, but to wearability as well. It’s then no surprise that each Empire model features a diameter of 38mm. As such, it makes for the ideal modern dress watch, eschewing oversized gestures in favour of subtlety and refinement. On the purely visual front, the Empire duly captures the Art Deco vibe, combining two layers on the dial face to brilliant effect. The word “Empire” itself consciously makes reference to New York’s Empire State Building and the watch design follows suit, drawing upon a retro urban aesthetic.
Meanwhile, every single component (except the movement) is custom-made, ensuring the utmost tier of quality control. What’s more, Vario offers a slew of colourways and combinations. That extends to dial details and straps alike, giving you plenty of room to find the iteration that speaks to you on a personal level. Choose between combinations like a white dial with heated blue hands and black Italian leather strap, or a gunmetal tuxedo dial with silver hands and a maroon Italian leather strap, and so on. Of course, if you want to swap out the strap, Vario is happy to abide. Offering a variety of premium straps is, after all, the very principle that this company was founded on.
Should Vario soar past its second stretch goal, it will produce yet another automatic variant, this one hosting a cream dial with rose gold hands and numerals. If the third stretch goal is reached, the brand will introduce a sapphire exhibition caseback on the automatic model. Like the existing Empires, these new variants will run on Seiko NH38A movement, feature water resistance to 5 ATM, and come backed by a one-year global warranty.
Breathing new life into Art Deco design, Vario’s Empire Automatic is already a huge hit. If you like the sound of an elegant dress watch with a slim body and vintage aesthetic, then don’t hesitate to back this remarkable project. Oh, and even if you don’t like the watch, you can still pledge US$24 for an Italian leather strap. Available in a variety of sizes and colours, each strap is thick but pliable, and all around excellent. It’s yet one more reason to head over to Kickstarter to back this incredible campaign.
The Wind Up – Watch News #104
In this week’s instalment of everything watch-related in our regular round-up series, The Wind Up, we have some amazing watches from the likes of Audemars Piguet, Swatch, Zenith and a handful of other incredible watchmakers. So, as always gents, sit back and enjoy!
MAEN Skymaster 38 Automatic Chronograph
Combining the very traditional look of a horizontally orientated chronograph dial, the Skymaster 38 is the latest addition to MAEN’s extensive and deep collection of quality watches. The simple design and panda aesthetic of the Skymaster 38 is a contributing factor to its appeal. The exposed mushroom pushers and ribbed crown look great, the slim bezel and twisted lugs touch on that nostalgic appeal of chronographs from a generation ago and the overall look and feel of the Skymaster 38 is really quite sound. Coupled with the use of an automatic movement, the Skymaster 38 is of exceptional value.
Swatch Bold Collection
Featuring six brand new models, the Swatch Bold Collection is exactly that, big and bold. Measuring 47mm across, each model features contrasting 3D prints on the dial and the strap, creating a very interesting and playful look. The hands are filled with Superluminova, so regardless of the dial colour, legibility will not be an issue. The Bold Collection was designed to stand out, and with regards to its combined proportions and striking colour palettes, I think it will do just that. Priced extremely accessibly too, and at $135AUD there isn’t really much to complain about.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin
Officially, here is Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak Selfwinding Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin. First off let’s congratulate Audemars Piguet on continuing to push the boundaries of contemporary watchmaking and creating the world’s thinnest selfwinding perpetual calendar. To put things in perspective the Royal Oak Selfwinding Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin’s case measures a paper-thin 6.30mm in thickness, while the movement is an incredible 2.89mm. Try to remember that this is a full blown perpetual calendar, capable of telling the time accurately for the next few generations. Aside from its insanely minute proportions, the dial is well balanced, the case beautifully finished and the movement absolutely spectacular. Now we wait to see what the competition can come up.
Zenith El Primero A384
50 years since the original El Primero came to the fore in 1969, Zenith have finally reintroduced their famed model, marking 5 decades since its inception. The El Primero was the world’s first automatic chronograph and really took the entire watch collecting community by storm. Fast forward to 2019, and Zenith have endowed us with the El Primero A384. Not made in a limited number and ripe for the picking, the A384 has a beautiful vintage vibe that is made in a respectful nod to the original El Primero. A beautiful panda dial offset by a red chronograph seconds hand sets the tone, and this vintage feel extends to the obscurely shaped case and exposed pushers. The horizontal tri-register look of the dial is my favourite chronograph layout, and the El Primer A384 executes that perfectly. An icon reborn.
IWC Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Chronograph Edition “Le Petit Prince”
A piece unique created to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Antoine de Saint-Exupery Youth Foundation, the Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Chronograph Edition “Le Petit Prince” combines the quintessential look of IWC’s perpetual calendars with the feel-good notion of giving back. To be auctioned online by Sotheby’s, IWC will be donating the proceeds from the sale of the Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Chronograph Edition “Le Petit Prince” to the foundation. Beyond its charitable side, the Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Chronograph Edition “Le Petit Prince” actually looks fantastic. The combination of subtle details, warm colours and big bold numbers is brilliant, and that blue dial is just beautiful. An outstanding watch for an equally as outstanding cause.
Rado Captain Cook
The Captain Cook collection is available in a variety of different references and has two sizing options. The 37mm is understated, conservative and really emphasises the Captain Cook’s heritage, while the 42mm is bolder, more pronounced but still carries with it the vintage vibe of the original Captain Cook piece. The 42mm is actually available in two variations. The first in a full stainless steel case with matching bracelet and a ceramic bezel, matching the colour of the dial. You can choose between either a green, a blue or a black dial in this instance. Otherwise, the 42mm model is available on a beautiful brown leather strap, with either a grey, brown, blue or black dial, with matching coloured bezel. And in 37mm, the Captain Cook is available in a limited edition travel case with three strap options, along with a strap changing tool.
If you enjoyed The Wind Up and would like to continue reading about watches, you can head on over to my blog, Haulogerie, where I delve a bit deeper into the wonderful world of watches.
A Second Limited Edition TAG Heuer Monaco Unveiled at Le Mans
Engines revved this weekend in Le Mans, as TAG Heuer presented the second of five limited-edition watches marking the 50th anniversary of the iconic Monaco timepiece. Not only was the TAG Heuer Monaco the first ever water-resistant square watch, but it was also the first to feature an automatic-winding chronograph movement.
The setting for the exclusive reveal couldn’t have been more fitting – in the 1971 film Le Mans, actor and “King of Cool” Steve McQueen sported the original Monaco timepiece, securing its place in horological history.
Hot on the heels of the first Monaco watch, the second model reveals a fiery design with a bold red dial representing both cutting-edge design and racing victory. Presented on a black calfskin strap punctured with holes lined in red, this special edition captures the speed and style of Monaco’s second decade.
Each of the five limited edition watches is inspired by different decades from 1969 to 2019. This second model celebrates the period from 1979 to 1989.
The stainless-steel Monaco features a red sunray dial and two rhodium-plated subdials with curved edges. The black and white accents complement the black-tipped hour and minute hands. The hands and indexes are coated with Super-LumiNova for use in the dark.
As with the original watch, the pushers are on the right of the case while the crown is on the left – a unique feature that has distinguished the Monaco over the past half-century. The caseback is engraved with the “Monaco Heuer” logo as well as “1979-1989 Special Edition” and “One of 169.”
The watch is powered by the TAG Heuer Calibre 11, a modern version of the automatic-winding chronograph movement that made its debut inside the original Monaco in 1969. This second Monaco watch has been produced in an edition limited to 169 pieces.
Guest for the Le Mans launch included Steve McQueen’s son, Chad McQueen, driver in the movie Le Mans, Derek Bell; actor, race car driver and brand ambassador Patrick Dempsey; and race car driver, Formula E Champion 2017–18 Jean-Éric Vergne. The guests were treated to a special screening of McQueen’s classic film in the place where it all began.
Vacheron Constantin Digital Certification of Authentification with Blockchain Technology
If you read the title of this article and said, “What?”, don’t worry, we’ll explain.
Using Blockchain technology eliminates the need for paper authentification, which can be forged. Instead, the technology uses a unique number assigned to the watch—or just about any collectible object—to track the watch through its lifetime as it changes hands.
But why Blockchain? In 2017, the Harvard Business Review described Blockchain as “an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way.” It’s the same technology used for Bitcoin. Vacheron’s chief digital officer explained it this way: “The implications of this digital certification via the Blockchain are immense in bridging the history between our clients, their timepieces, and the maison.
“By securing the digital certificates on the Blockchain, we can now follow our products through their lifetime, and communicate critical information to the owners without asking them to compromise their privacy.”
What this does is provide assurance that what you’re buying is the real McCoy, not some counterfeit. That type of information should help bolster the vintage watch market, not to mention assuage any fears a collector might have about picking up a particular piece.
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