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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.

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 colourway

We've upgraded this watch with a double dome sapphire with inner AR applied for strength and clarity; 316L stainless steel case at 10ATM water resistance to withstand tougher conditions compared with the non-water-resistant original soft silver case; non-radioactive lume; a modern industrial enamel that is stronger and less brittle as the original vitreous enamel; and a reliable Japanese automatic movement that hacks and winds, a complication considered a rare luxury back in the day. What we've kept is the charming wired lugs that you don't see on many trench watches on the market making the Vario 1918 a modern interpretation to the classic military tool watch.

Watch Specs

Case diameter: 37mm 
Case thickness: 10mm 
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 handwinding and hacking seconds
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