We take a look at the latest watch from Vario – a modern take on the World War 1 trench watch. Is it as good as the last Vario we reviewed?
Vario Trench Watch Review
Singapore brand Vario’s last watch, the Empire, was superb – one of my highlights of 2019 – so I was keen to see their latest release. It is actually the second Trench Watch we have reviewed – the first was the Lufbery Mark VII in October last year. The Vario is a little more expensive, at £221 compared to the mechanical Lufbery at £199 but that’s close enough that I think it’s fair to compare the two in my verdict.
Case and Movement
The Vario Trench Watch has a very conservative 37m case – that’s period-accurate and does feel rather small by modern tastes. On the other hand, the supplied Bund strap does a good job of making it wear a fair bit bigger. The Miyota 825S movement keeps it down to just 10mm thick. I often complain about the Miyota 8-series, but in this small-seconds format, it does not suffer the stuttering that it sometimes does when fitted with a central second hand, so I think it’s a good choice.
I particularly liked the authentic wire lugs: it does limit your strap selection to a one-piece through-strap or the supplied bund, but it feels secure and looks great. The case back is solid with a light engraved motto – this is optional, you can keep it plain if you wish. The pebble-like case shape does a good job of keeping the watch looking vintage, and the finish is excellent, with a smooth feel. The crown being located at 4 O’clock is an unusual choice, but a necessary one because of the otherwise-offset small seconds dial on the Miyota movement. I like it there – it looks good albeit a bit tricky to operate when the watch is on the Bund.
Dial and Hands
The enamel dial is as stunning as that on the Empire: it is a deep black and shiny without being reflective thanks in-part to the internal AR coating on the domed sapphire crystal. The cathedral hands look great – they are just the right length and are easy to read. There is a small seconds dial and some superb lume on the digits. Overall, the watch looks great and is very legible despite its relatively small size.
I really like the dial – it’s not particularly new or innovative, but everything feels “just right”. The modern touches have been added sympathetically and all improve the watch from its inspiration without adding anything that will make it feel dated over time.
Strap and Buckle
The bund strap is made out of crazy horse leather. It feels great and looks superb. Vario is renowned for providing excellent quality leather straps, and this is no different. The downside is that the strap is very short. On my 7.5″ wrist it only just fits at the last adjustment hole.
Vario does not intend to supply a longer Bund strap with the watch (the brand’s reckoning being that people with larger wrists are unlikely to buy such a small watch) so bear this in mind if you intend to buy it and love the Bund look. A longer 18mm single-piece strap (which I wrongly call a NATO in my video) is also supplied. Remember that the wire lugs mean you can only fit a single piece strap to the watch so your replacement choices will be limited. The buckle is a standard tang, with a light engraving on one side.
Vario Trench Watch – Video Review
What I Liked
- The Vario Trench Watch has a superb vintage look and feel.
- The dial is beautifully finished with superb lume.
- The quality of the leather straps is second-to-none.
What I Didn’t Like
- The short strap might be a problem for the larger-wristed…
- …and the wire lugs mean that your choices are limited to replace it.
- The engraving on the case back – if you choose it – is not very deep.
Vario Trench Watch – the WRUK Verdict
I can’t help but compare this watch to the Lufbery Mark VII I reviewed last year. Both watches take a classic vintage design and add some modern touches. Whereas the Lufbery chose to boost the watch to a more modern size and use a central second hand on the automatic variant, Vario has kept the size authentic but retains that cool small seconds dial. Both watches are very good, and both sit in the same price range, so which is best really comes down to the case size you prefer.
If your wrist is on the larger side, you may prefer the 40mm Lufbery Mark VII Trench Watch. If you have a smaller wrist, however, and want a vintage-looking watch, you are going to love the Vario Trench Watch. The look, feel and build quality are all superb, and at £221 it represents excellent value for money. Highly recommended.
Buy a Vario Trench Watch
The Vario Trench Watch is due to be released in Summer 2021. You can find out more and sign up to the Vario Mailing List here: https://vario.sg/pages/ww1-trench-watch