Preview: Vario Eclipse

Singapore's Vario is best known for its patterned NATO straps, but on March 28 (27th here in the States) the company launches its first watch, the Eclipse. In the interest of full disclosure, you should know that while I have no affiliation with the company, Vario did ask my opinions during the planning and design phase and I was happy to oblige. Some of my suggestions were taken, some were not.  I have not yet sampled a prototype but I like what I see.


The Eclipse offers vintage-inspired design at an entry-level price. To this end, it has a 3mm double domed and anti-reflective sapphire crystal and a mid-century modern dial in a polished 38mm case. As far as I'm concerned, 38mm is right on the money; period correct and ideal for a dress watch. Slim lugs and a modest, coin edged crown complete the picture. Kickstarter backers will receive a decorated caseback bearing the image of a wolf and "Heavenly Hound devours the moon" written in traditional Chinese characters.


The domed sunray dial has the familiar minimalist layout of stick markers and white baton hands. Note that the above photo shows the first prototype. It should appear very much the same in production except that the markers will be slightly longer to better reach the hands and the applied Vario logo will be smaller and matte finished instead polished. It comes in silver, grey, black, and blue. A lovely bottle-green version is also being contemplated and may be offered as a stretch goal.


The Eclipse is clean and conservative – perhaps to a fault. I like the overall design, but it lacks that one single distinguishing feature to set it apart from its competitors. An interesting handset shape or uncommon marker design would have gone far to define its character. That job falls to its movement's instead. Vario looked beyond the usual microbrand favorites and chose a Miyota 6t33 hand winding mechanical and a Seiko VH31 quartz that 4 beats times per second to mimic the sweep of a mechanical movement. That smooth quartz was my suggestion so needless to say, I think it's a pretty good idea.


The watch will ship on a variety of 20mm Harris tweed straps. As I have said about other tweeds, I like the look, but see it as a seasonal item. I would prefer the primary strap to be leather so I could wear all year with the tweed as a secondary accessory for the fall and winter. On the other hand, delivery is not expected until September, so it will be right on time for those of us in the northern hemisphere.

Now the best part: price. The Eclipse quartz will sell for $118-$148; the mechanical for $198-$238. Extra Harris tweed or nylon NATO straps are $20 with watch purchase, or $28 each, $52 for two, and $72 for three if ordered on their own. This is a heck of deal. I suspect that many folks who loved the Vapaus Veli but balked at the price will jump on this one.

The Eclipse launches March 28, at 10:00 AM Singapore time (March 27, at 10:00 PM US EST). Go to https://vario.sg/pages/eclipse-watch-kickstarter for more information. ⬩

Pics courtesy of Vario



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