Vario 1945 D12 – A fun field watch

By Frederik Drost
Vario 1945 D12 – A fun field watch

Vario is a brand that has captured my admiration ever since I first laid eyes on their 1918 Trench watch (read my review here). They possess a remarkable talent for crafting exquisite timepieces that pay homage to history, while also offering playful and distinctive dress watches. What truly sets them apart is the consistent superiority of their craftsmanship, which always exceeds the expectations set by their price range.

Thus, it is with immense delight that I find myself presented with the opportunity to review the latest addition to their collection, the remarkable Vario 1945 D12 Field Watch!

Pros & Cons


  • Superb Lume
  • Size true to history
  • Durable Strap


  • Maybe too small for bigger wrists
  • Not the most comfortable strap


The Vario Brand

Vario is a watch and watch accessories brand that allow you to express your unique style. Founded in 2016, the brand emphasizes variation, sophistication, and quality. Their vintage-inspired timepieces and personalized designs make for great conversation pieces. See their video here.

Vario believes in offering exclusive and affordable products, with most designs created in Singapore. Each watch is individually inspected and tested, ensuring its limited edition status and long-lasting quality. Whether you’re building your collection or searching for a memorable gift, Vario provides a range of options to suit your taste and elevate your style.

Story of the dirty dozen watches

During World War II, the British Ministry of Defense commissioned twelve Swiss watch brands to create specially designed wristwatches for their soldiers. These watches, known as the “dirty dozen,” were rugged, waterproof, and highly reliable operational tools. The watches had specific characteristics, including a black dial with Arabic numerals, luminous hands and indexes, hand-wound movements with 15 jewels, and a shock-resistant case

The dials often featured the brand name and a Broad Arrow symbol, traditionally used in British heraldry to mark government property. The watches were water-resistant and had military serial numbers engraved on the caseback

Today, original vintage models of the dirty dozen watches are highly sought after, but faithful replicas from the original brands are also available for purchase.

Read more about the dirty dozen watches here.


Vario 1945 D12 Field Watch, WW2 hommage watch

Vario has truly excelled in crafting a homage timepiece that pays homage to a legendary watch, just like they did with their Trech watch.

Let’s delve into the various design elements that make this watch exceptionally special and distinctive, while still staying partially true to its historical roots:

  • First and foremost, Vario has nailed the watch’s size. At 37mm, it remains faithful to the dimensions of older field watches, striking a perfect balance without being too diminutive.
  • The base dial boasts a rugged texture reminiscent of asphalt, and the discreet engraving of the Vario brand text adds a subtle touch. I particularly appreciate how the brand name is barely visible, enhancing its tool-like functionality and evoking the spirit of unbranded military-issued items.
  • The yellow and white print paint, which pays homage to the worn-out “dirty dozen” watches, is a faithful nod to the past. However, the modern twist lies in the inclusion of two different types of lume, which is simply fantastic!
  • While the placement of the crown may deviate from historical accuracy, it provides enhanced comfort, which is crucial for a field or tool watch. I especially adore how the crown seamlessly integrates into the lugs of the watch.
  • Speaking of the crown, its logo engraving filled with BGW9 lume paint adds a playful twist and aids in locating it in the darkness.
Vario 1945 D12 Field Watch, WW2 hommage watch

In addition to these unique details, the watch stays true to the essence of the original “dirty dozen” watches. The inclusion of modern touches such as a polished raised bezel and beveled edges on the lugs allows this timepiece to exude a remarkable aesthetic while retaining its rugged and vintage charm.

Overall, Vario once again demonstrates their expertise in creating an exceptional homage watch that tastefully pays tribute to the original, without resorting to blatant replication.


Case and crown

Vario 1945 D12 Field Watch, WW2 hommage watch

When it comes to the case finishing, the watch aligns with what you’d anticipate within its price range. In this regard, it doesn’t exceed expectations. 

Vario 1945 D12 Field Watch, WW2 hommage watch

However, certain details like the polished beveled edge elevate the overall feel of the case, surpassing what one might typically anticipate.

Vario 1945 D12 Field Watch, WW2 hommage watch crown

The crown offers a pleasant tactile experience with a sharp grip, allowing for effortless unscrewing and time adjustment. While the threading may display some slight unevenness, it doesn’t come as a surprise to me.

Vario 1945 D12 Field Watch, WW2 hommage watch
An hommage caseback here, giving credit to fallen soldiers, is a tasteful touch.

And here’s a delightful surprise: the crown features a lumed logo, adding a touch of plain old fun to the mix.

Dial & Hands

The base dial exhibits a lovely rugged texture that appears to be stamped, and its manufacturing process doesn’t seem particularly challenging.

However, the printing on the dial is undeniably impressive. A substantial layer is applied, resulting in a glossy and rounded finish that catches the eye.

Vario 1945 D12 Field Watch, WW2 hommage watch close up dial

The hands are also skillfully crafted. The white syringe hands possess a high level of quality, and the center of the dial showcases a pleasing rounded metal disc, which is a delightful touch that isn’t always expected.


Vario 1945 D12 Field Watch, WW2 hommage watch Lume shot

The application of lume on this watch is commendable, especially considering that it is printed lume. As is typical with this setup, the hands shine brighter and have a longer-lasting glow.

What makes this watch particularly interesting is the combination of BGW9 lume and C3 Superluminova. This creates a captivating contrast in low-light conditions and capitalizes on the distinctive strengths of each lume variant.

Lume shot, lumed crown
I genuinely love the lumed crown! It adds a bit of fun to the watch.

BGW9 lume shines for a more extended period, while C3 lume exhibits a brighter glow. The inclusion of both types of lume is a clever decision, showcasing a thoughtful approach to enhance visibility in different lighting scenarios.


The flat sapphire crystal is equipped with an inner anti-reflective coating. While the flatness of the crystal does contribute to some reflectivity, I must admit that I have encountered better anti-reflective coatings in the past. However, considering the price range, I have also come across worse coatings in my experience.

Strap and buckle

The strap, made of Cordura, imparts a sense of indestructibility, particularly due to the reinforced metal ring around the buckle holes.

Worth noting: 

that Cordura is a versatile fabric technology, employing synthetic fibers and finding applications across a wide range of products, including luggage, backpacks, trousers, military wear, and performance apparel. Read more about cordura here.

While the Cordura strap boasts durability, it may not be the most comfortable option due to its rugged nature. Personally, I have a fondness for this watch and intend to pair it with either a leather strap or a NATO strap for added comfort.

The buckle, though in line with what one would expect within this price range, exhibits a unique shape that distinguishes it from the usual generic buckles I often encounter.


The Vario 1945 D12 timepiece is driven by the Miyota 82S5 movement, a Japanese movement renowned for its reliability rather than its precision, comparable to Seiko’s movements.

Utilizing this movement allows for cost-effectiveness while still providing the charm of a mechanical watch. In the event that the movement stops functioning, it would be more economical to replace it rather than invest in servicing. Additionally, regular maintenance may not be deemed cost-effective for this particular movement.


  • Brand: Miyota (Citizen)
  • Caliber Number: 82S5
  • Movement Type: Automatic
  • Jewels: 21
  • Vibrations Per Hour: 21,600 bph
  • Anti-Shock System: Parashock
  • Power Reserve: 42+ hours
  • Winding Direction: Uni-directional (left)
  • Hacking: No
  • Country of Manufacture: Japan
  • Known Models: Junkers Dessau, Detomaso Metauro XXL (Add yours in the comments below…)

Quality – Conclusion

In terms of quality, the watch holds up well within its price range. However, it doesn’t surpass expectations like some of their other models, which do punch above their prices.

On the wrist

Vario 1945 D12 Field Watch, WW2 hommage watch

The Vario 1945 D12 exhibits a charmingly small size on my wrist with a circumference of 17cm, adding to its vintage appeal, which I personally find delightful.

Vario 1945 D12 Field Watch, WW2 hommage watch

However, if you prefer larger watches, this particular model might not align with your preferences. Nevertheless, smaller watches are experiencing a resurgence, and if you don’t mind their size, I would recommend this watch for wrists up to 18cm in circumference.

In terms of comfort, the Cordura strap may feel somewhat rugged. For the utmost comfort, I would suggest considering a NATO strap as an alternative. Nevertheless, the watch remains highly wearable even with the Cordura strap.


The price is fair

Taking into account all the aspects mentioned earlier, the quality of the Vario 1945 D12 is appropriately reflected in its price. It doesn’t exceed its price point, but it’s worth noting that not all watches can achieve that level of performance when using custom elements.


Once again, Vario has demonstrated their mastery in creating homage watches by skillfully reimagining a classic and historically significant timepiece with a modern twist, while preserving the elements that made the original watch so captivating.

The Vario 1945 D12 boasts an array of enjoyable and distinctive details, accompanied by impressive lume and a charming vintage size. Moreover, the quality of the watch is in perfect harmony with its price point, adding the final touch to an already remarkable timepiece.

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