If you are willing to do the research and look for watch microbrands on the world wide web, you will quickly discover that the market is dominated by dive watches. In general, they are popular because they are sporty and practical, while being dressy with the right strap.
If i described the VAER Pacific, you would probably say: “ ok, so it’s just another microbrand diver watch with ceramic bezel insert, sapphire crystal and either ETA or Miyota movements.” But VAER is actually much more than that and they have done so much right with their latest collection of dive watches that i can honestly say it’s a unique dive watch.
The founders, Ryan Torres and Reagan Cook, are definitely watch aficionados and didn’t just design a watch out of the blue. They are fully invested in their company, and if you don’t believe me, go watch their 30 min intro video describing their new dive watch collection!
I present to you, the VAER D5 Pacific USA diver (This specific model is no longer available, but see similar models here).
Quick pros and cons
There is no doubt about the fact that the owners of VAER watches like Omega watches, and you can tell when looking at the Pacific Diver. But i wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s an homage, since many other elements, mixed with those Omega “references”, makes this watch quite unique.
The dial is definitely inspired by vintage Omega dive watches from the 50’s and 60’s, but with the absence of numeral markers. It’s highly legible thanks to the long minute markers, the abundantly lume filled hours markers and the mat black background.
A cool detail you don’t notice at first is the fact that half the hours markers are actually applied ! They could easily have gotten away with just printed markers, but this detail is uniquely pleasant, especially since the owner will be the only one to know.
After discovering this cool detail, you then realize that the hours markers have a small curved side near the rehaut of the watch.
The logo sits well in the top of the dial while minimal information is displayed on the bottom half of the dial. I especially love the “american assembly” print and how perfectly it sits between the 5 and 7 o’clock markers.
The markers, as well as the hands, are filled with faux patina lume which compliments this design very nicely. I really love how the second hand stands out with it’s white paint job, which is another nod to the old Omega dive watches.
All in all, a very vintage inspired dial that is sober, easy to read and charming as hell.
The case is probably the biggest nod to Omega, since they still use this type of case design. The huge beveled edges then run across the entire case and lugs give it a fluid look, almost like running water. It’s charming, looks great with a nato strap and nobody else seems to be doing this in this price range (Update: Martenero does have a similar case on one model). The full satin look is very understated and tool like, which i like for my vintage inspired dive watches.
The bezel definitely has a vintage vibe, but the mix of white paint and faux patina lume matches the same mix we see on the dial. I think they didn’t want to overdue the faux patina and this choice definitely gives the watch more panache. And speaking of panache, having the underside of the bezel fully polished is another detail that adds panache to the watch.
The sapphire crystal is domed just the right way as to continue the arc that the inclined bezel started. This means that when you look at the watch from the side, you see a perfect dome on the top. The bezel then takes an inward angle that is then met by the same outward angle, created by the beveled edge. I don’t think I have ever seen a watch in this price range that looks soo good from the side (it’s a weirdly specific complement, but it matters to me).
The VAER pacifc is a well designed vintage inspired dive watch. It feels and looks like a tool watch, and you can adjust the vintage vibe of this watch by switching from a leather strap to the integrated metal bracelet.
But making a vintage inspired watch is easy. Making one that looks this good from all sides, with unique and fresh details that still keeps the charming vintage allure, is another thing. But VAER managed to do so.
Overall, the VAER D5 Pacific is a well made watch if you consider the price. It has its flaws, but with these price ranges it’s always a question of what’s important to you. One upgrade can deteriorate another element of the watch, if the company wants to stay within this price range.
The threading of the crown is rough, but very even, so unscrewing the crown is a delight. The crown does wobble when unscrewed, but that doesn’t bother me since it’s rarely in that position (being aligned with the case when screwed down is more important).
The dial and bezel
Everything in the dial is perfectly aligned and crisply printed, although the bezel triangle marker is not perfectly aligned with the one on the dial. Luckily, we are talking about half a degree offset, so you can only notice it by staring at the watch up close (i have seen much bigger offsets that were annoying, this one isn’t). I did find 2 very small dust particles after a close inspection, but if that bothers you, i am sure VAER is more than happy to replace it with another watch.
The bezel insert markers are cut deeply and precisely, which means you won’t have to worry about the paint fading off after wear and tear of your clothing. The paint could be applied a bit better, but the uneven texture can only be seen up close while squinting.
The lume is generously applied and has that embossed look, even on the applied indices. This generous application of high grade Superluminova X1 Old Radium give you some very good lume shots. It last for a long time without any visible grainy textures and you can almost use is as a small lamp to find your keys in the dark!
The metal finishing
The satin finishes on this watch are rough enough so that you can see the lines when looking at the time. The lines are parallel and only a very close inspection will reveal a few flaws, invisible to the wearer at all times.The brushed finish on the hands are a bit rougher, but surely done on purpose for that vintage tool watch look !
The angles of the case are dull and i know for a fact that it’s really hard to achieve those sharp angles that are still seemingly soft to the touch. The teeth on the bezel and crown are perfectly cut out to be sharp enough to grip your skin without feeling cheap and too sharp.
Overall, this is the kind of machining and polishing quality you can expect from this price range, with some rare exceptions that usually sacrifice something else to achieve a better finish.
The endlinks of the metal bracelet are perfectly aligned with the case and there is no play whatsoever. The rest of the metal strap is not the highest grade of quality, meaning it’s a stamped clasp and the bracelet is a bit janky and loose, which is not surprising considering the price (i prefer it on the leather strap anyway). I would say it’s the same level of quality as a Seiko SKX bracelet.
The leather strap is great! It smells good, feels good and was supple from the get go, making it super comfortable. It’s also my favourite strap for this watch, because i feel it compliments the vintage look.
The tropic strap is also very supple and soft (i have had a few hard ones, and they hit the trash pretty fast). Not my favourite look though, but super practical if you are in hot and humid environments.
The nylon strap was a but harder to bend and less comfortable, but still pretty well made. After bending it several times, it fit much better in the wrist and look pretty cool too!
The Miyota 9039 that powers this watch is part of the premium Miyota line of automatic movements. It’s a true no-date movement and features seconds hacking and unidirectional winding (so the rotor can free spin, like on the Valjoux 7750, which I find rather charming). It’s definitely not a cheap option, but not a high end one too.
Many say it’s very reliable, more so than the more basic and more common Miyota movements found on the market. Mine is losing around 7 to 10 seconds a day, which is under what Miyota is promising, so I am quite happy! That, plus a less fickle winding mechanism, less noisy rotor and a workhorse status amongst the watch community, makes this a very good choice for the VAER Pacific.
You can always upgrade and get the D7 with an ETA2824. Having the option is always great!
On the wrist
The VAER pacific is not a big watch, staying true to it’s vintage look while remaining modern. This will fit most men and women, but i wouldn’t advise very large guys with big wrists to go for this model (although the small vintage size will be even truer for them).
The slightly curved lugs and end-links really help the watch hug my 17 cm wrist. The lugs take a sharp turn at the end, which is really good for smaller wrists (16 cm or lower), but can look weird on bigger wrists. Most men won’t have to worry about this though.
Overall, the watch is super comfortable and thanks to it’s relatively slim profile it also doesn’t look chunky on the wrist. The crown sits just high enough to not bother you hand and when it doesn touch your skin, the lack of very sharp angles is a bliss!
The price is very fair
Considering the cool custom elements like the indices and case, the fact that it’s 200 water resistance with a display case back and has a premium Miyota movement, i can only conclude that this watch (and their other dice watches) are worth the money. Oh, and don’t forget you also get 2 straps with your watch!
With their new dive collection, VAER didn’t go for the risky and crazy over-the-top design, but still managed to make a design that is quite unique while cherry picking from classic watch designs. And they seem to be good at it, because all of their watches has that subtle unique touch that requires you to think about it to discover it.
The Pacific model is definitely my favourite because of it’s tasteful mix of vintage inspiration and new and cool details. My second favourite would have to be the Tropic diver with the red date wheel. I can highly recommend all of their watches without a blink of the eye 🙂