Exploring the world of watches on a budget

Vaer Automatic

Today, Vaer Watches launches their new Automatic Field watch. They let me take a look at a prototype this past weekend, along with a small sampling of their straps. So far, this Venice, California-based brand has produced several successful quartz models. This is their first foray into mechanical movements, and I must say, I like what I see.

Vaer Automatic White Design
Like their previous offerings, the new Automatic has a domed sapphire crystal, 100m depth rating, and a clean, classic dial in a sensibly-sized 40mm stainless steel case. However, where the previous Vaers used Swiss Ronda quartz movements, the Automatic will come with the buyer's choice of a Miyota 9015, ETA 2824, or ETA 2895. Regular readers will likely have already memorized the 9015's and 2824's basic specs (24 jewels, hacking, hand-winding, 28.8k bph, 42-hour power reserve). The 2895, on the other hand, is less common in the microbrand world. While similar in design to the 2824, it has 27 jewels, a small seconds indicator, and is a full millimeter thinner. All movements will be visible through the Vaer's exhibition case back.

Vaer Automatic White Design case back

The ETA models will, predictably, be more expensive, but the differences don't stop there. If you choose the Swiss movement, your watch will be Swiss made. The Japanese movement watches will be assembled in America like the rest of the Vaer line. Both Miyota and ETA 2824 models are available in the Black Heritage Dial, White or Navy Design Dial, or Black Field Dial. The ETA 2895 is only available in the Black "Dirty Dozen" dial resembling that of a WW2 Ministry of Defense watch. 

Vaer Automatic White Design

Regardless of the dial, the Automatics feature a simple, yet beautifully designed case. It measures 40mm wide, 48mm long, and 10mm thick including the crystal. A hint of polish on the outer edges of the lugs and bezel break up the otherwise brushed surface. Slim, tapered lugs, slightly bowed case sides, and a brushed, fixed bezel all serve to visually shrink the watch. When I first removed it from the box, I would have sworn it was 38 or 39mm. Once I strapped it on, it was clear that it was indeed a full 40mm but those design elements give it a much lighter look. Vaer tells me the final version will have a slightly larger screw-down crown (7x3mm instead of 6x3mm) and I expect that will go even further to enhance the watch's vintage-style proportions.  Even as-is, the watch looked perfect on my 6.75" wrist.

Vaer Automatic White Design

Of all the dial variants, I like the White Design version best. It is a fetching combination of white, pale blue-green, and red-orange with navy outlines, index, and text. It's clear that someone spent some time perusing the Pantone deck when designing this one. Even the date wheel get a subtle touch of silver. (No-date versions are available as well.) The polished syringe hands maintain the vintage vibe, as does the tiny hollow diamond tip of the orange second hand. I love everything about this dial. Its light, sophisticated color palette, and Nomos-esque layout give it an easygoing grace that reminds me of faded blue jeans, Nantucket Reds, and seersucker suits. 

Vaer Automatic White Design blue NATO

The lume is lovely as well. The folks at Vaer tell me it is still a work in progress as the markers fade quickly, but boy, that initial burst is something else! Regardless, the BGW9 hands are bright enough on their own. 

Vaer Automatic White Design lume

Final strap choices have not been hammered out, so they sent me a selection of 20mm straps currently available in the Vaer web store. The nylon NATOs ($15) are well constructed and make perfect sense on this field watch (I thought the beige was particularly fetching) but the best of the bunch was their handmade Horween leather ($65). I'm a sucker for that rich British Tan color and weathered pull-up effect. Quick-release pins and a signed buckle top it off. 

Vaer Automatic White Design leather

Everything about the Vaer Automatic clicks for me. The size, case details, and color scheme are just delightful. I also like the price. Early Birds on Kickstarter can grab an American Assembled Miyota model for $299 ($449 retail), a Swiss Made ETA 2825 for $449 ($599 retail), or the ETA 2895 Dirty Dozen for $599 ($849 retail). All represent a good value, but for me, the pick of the litter is the white dial, 9015 powered model I just reviewed. I mean - just look at it! It's frickin' beautiful. Also, I love a bargain, respect the Miyota, and am not as enamored with the Swiss as many of my fellow watch nerds. But the beauty of this launch is that there is a little something for everyone. 

For more information or to place an order, visit VaerWatches.com and the Vaer Automatic Kickstarter Page. ⬩

Vaer Automatic White Design  nato
Vaer Automatic White Design

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