Vario Empire Chronograph Review
Guilloche is a technique that I really love, it is hard to appreciate without the virtues of a good macro lens but there is something nice about knowing that is there, a good hand made guilloche dial is an art that if is well executed, it would look incredible, great depth, intricate patterns you name it, but it comes at a cost of course. I happen to have a Breguet Marine which has this old century technique and when I am comparing it with the Empire chronograph under macro, it was hard to me to believe the price of the later. I was lucky enough to spend time with this incredible watch, I happened to review the non-chronograph version and I was baffled with the quality and finishing but, the this new offering is on another level: the dial layout, the numerals plus that dial, yes we are talking about an stamped one but all under 300 USD, of course you cannot expect the handmade dial like the Breguet has but, boy it gives a run for its money. Let us begin with the review.
The Empire Chronograph is of course a sequel of the Empire Automatic, you can find the same design cues in both watches, the new chronograph remains truth to its roots at 38mm with a lug-to-lug distance of 46mm, these dimensions are considered the golden ratio in the watch world and for a chronograph it is even better. The Empire is a dressy piece, and its main inspiration is Art Deco, you can really trace all the styling cues when you see the numerals, stepped case and that tuxedo dial that is so classic from the 1930s, it looks great with a suit or a jumper but if you want to rock it with a nice polo shirt it wouldn’t look out of place. The dial is where the party is at, whenever I look down, I start looking at that beautiful ‘’8’’ which looks so old fashion and classic and then the pattern, that white intricate dial which makes you dizzy if you keep starting, a beauty. The watch is powered byt a Seiko Meca-Quartz VK64 giving reliability, a mechanical feel when you snap that chronograph back and keeping the Empire thin, you really don’t want to wear those Valjoux 7750 to a cocktail party.
On the Wrist
The Empire Chrono works so well on the wrist, its thin (11.5 mm) and relatively small, it hides under any shirt cuff but also has this beefy felling of an expensive time piece. The watch is legible give that the tuxedo dial really exposes the syringe hands, and the 2 registers don’t impact on the view at all, in fact, that bi-compax layout makes you feel special, racy but again very elegant, from the races to the dinner table. As per every tradition the Empire comes with a great handmade leather strap, you can choose which one you like the most but black or beige really brings this chronograph to another level with a great taper from 20mm to 16mm.
For me this is another hit from Vario, we have seen the Meca Quartz market go crazy these past years and there is a lot of offers out there, this is good for the consumer but also bad as there is a lot of them. What makes the Vario Empire chronograph stand out is that this is a unique design created by the company and is not looking back at any watch reference from a major brand, is looking at the past and an era where things were smaller and less brash. The uniqueness for me is the main factor why this watch is a success, the salmon version quickly sold out and I know because I couldn’t get one but there is more coming, hopefully next time you will be quicker than me. Another point I want to highlight is the commitment of the quality, the finishing are foreign materials are practically non existing, I have seen much more expensive pieces with dirty dials or scratches in the hands, this is not the case with The Empire, and then thinking again on the price point, makes me wonder how can this package be surpassed? I am sure that the people from Vario will surprise us again.
Written by Robbie from Robbie & Watches
Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the author and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated.
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