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WW1 Trench Watch

When World War I began in 1914, soldiers faced a novel problem. In the chaos on and off the battlefield where precise timing was integral to routines, communications, and synchronizing attacks, reliable and accurate timepieces were vital. Many officers had pocket watches, but these had many shortcomings on the battlefield. They were cumbersome to pull out and to open the protecting lid with gloved hands, requiring officers to pause their duties. The dials were impossible to read at night, and the glass crystals broke easily. In a setting where a second could be the difference between life and death, it was clear that an alternative was needed. Thus, in the muddy trenches of the First World War, the wrist-watch was born.

vario trench watch

Until that point, wristwatches were feminine accessories called “wristlets”, but militaries took the design and upsized it, adding more durable materials and useful features to create the modern design. The shift from Roman to Arabic numerals made it easier to read the time at a glance, and the shatterproof crystal was introduced to protect the watch. Radium-lumed hands and dials were also used to make them easier to read them at night. By 1917, most officers owned one, and they would eventually become accessible to infantrymen.

Towards the end of the war in 1918, trench watches had become a symbol of courage and bravery, which signaled their push towards the mainstream and opened up a mass market in the post-war era. The VARIO 1918 Trench Watch pays homage to this period and the innovations that followed.

vario ww1 trench watch

vario ww1 trench watch

vario ww1 trench watch

 vario trench watch

Today, we upgrade the classic concept to what no-one could have dreamed of, a century ago:
• Scratch and shatter-proof double domed sapphire, AR-coated underside for clarity, instead of the original fragile glass;
• 10ATM water resistant case of marine grade stainless steel (316L), when 1910’s soft silver or brass couldn’t bear any water, and little shock;
• Latest generation, non-radioactive non-fading Swiss lume, instead of old radium paste which slowly poisoned the dial painters, and needed re-coating after ten years;
• State of the art modern enamel, when last century brittle vitreous glaze chipped off or aged with hairline cracks;
• A modern, shockproof Japanese automatic movement with hand-winding and hacking seconds, a “complication” envied as a rare luxury back in the days!
 
We did keep an iconic signature of the classic design, though: the true curved wire lugs. You won't see them often on other modern trench watch revivals. They look charmingly retro, but still make sense today as more secure than springbars. This is why modern “mil-specs” issue watches keep fixed bars, thus imposing single-piece a.k.a. ”nato” straps.
So, the Vario 1918 Trench may be a modern interpretation, but far from a novelty. It remains truthful to the spirit of the original classics: a tough, functional, state of the art tool watch. Versatile too, as it will suit both your fatigues or cocktail attire.

 

Watch Specs

Case diameter: 37mm 
Case thickness: 10mm 
Dial: Enamel
Crystal: 2mm double domed sapphire with inner AR applied
Lug width: 18mm 
Lug to lug: 45mm 
Lume: C3 Lume
Case Material: 316L stainless steel
Caseback: 316L stainless steel with option for engraving
Crown: Screw-down crown (enlarged in final version for easy handling)
Movement: Miyota 82s5 automatic movement with hand-winding and hacking seconds. 21 jewels 21.6kpbh
Water resistance: 10 atm

 

The automatic version will likely cost US$250+ for pre-orders, and around $350+ for retail. We are also considering to offer a quartz variant with a Seiko VD78 movement. This version will likely cost US$140+ for pre-orders, and around $220+ for retail. Please mark your interest for quartz  and we will offer it if we get enough support.

 

 

vario trench watch dial

vario watches empire eclipse trench

Left to right: Vario Eclipse (38mm), Vario WW1 Trench Watch Prototype (36mm), Vario Empire (38mm)

vario trench watch

 

vario trench watch

vario trench watch ww1

vario trench watch