I have had the opportunity to own, review, and test numerous watches throughout my 30 years on this planet. Every now and then, I come across a watch that I truly fall in love with.
The Vario Trench collection checks all the boxes for me in its price range, whether it’s the design, quality, or overall feel. It pays a great tribute to the vintage style, and it’s a shame that there aren’t many pre-60s homages available on the market.
But don’t just take my word for it. Let me lay out everything in this review.
Disclaimer: I received this watch for review purposes, but I was not paid for it, and there was no agreement to write a positive review.
- – Case diameter: 40mm
- – Case thickness: 10mm
- – Dial: Enamel
- – Crystal: 2mm double domed sapphire with inner AR applied
- – Lug width: 20mm
- – Lug to lug: 48mm
- – Lume: C3 Lume
- – Case Material: 316L stainless steel
- – Caseback: 316L stainless steel (option for empty caseback and laser engraving at additional cost)
- – Crown: Screw-down crown
- – Movement: Adjusted Seiko NH38A automatic movement with hand-winding and hacking seconds, 24 jewels, 21.6kpbh, more than 40 hours power reserve
- – Water resistance: 10 atm
- – Strap: Crazy horse leather with bund pad (75mm/120mm) or single pass (270mm)
- – Warranty: 1 year global warranty
Pros & Cons
- – Can only accommodate NATO strap or bund straps
Vario exemplifies how to successfully create an era-specific watch. While the design itself is not new, it feels refreshing due to the overwhelming popularity of watches inspired by the 60s to 90s that flood the market each year.
Vario is not the only brand to draw inspiration from the World War I era, but in my opinion, they have executed it the best. They have faithfully recreated the old trench watch, retaining the same case shape, wire lugs, dial design and typography, and even the hands.
The only element I couldn’t find in my research is the 4 o’clock crown position. This placement makes the watch appear smaller while ensuring comfort by preventing the crown from irritating your wrist.
The soft, round case is interrupted by the wire lugs, which are also rounded with no sharp corners, giving them a natural presence that feels appropriate for this watch, rather than the classic lugs we are accustomed to.
The specific model I own complements the orange lume, red pulsation scale, and black printing beautifully. All of this stands out against the creamy white enamel dial. It feels nostalgic yet contemporary.
There are numerous variations available, allowing anyone to find a combination they can fall in love with, and it adds a touch of uniqueness to each model.
Overall, Vario has masterfully captured the design of the Trench and Medic Trench watches, remaining true to history with subtle changes in size and crown placement. Bravo!
Case, Bezel & Crown
The finishing is exceptional, and the construction feels solid, with precise tolerances that give the case a rounded and organic profile. The lugs, barely visible, seamlessly integrate into the case, preventing dirt from collecting and ensuring a cohesive design. They feel remarkably sturdy and do not exhibit any wiggling or movement.
The crown is impeccably finished, reminiscent of the quality found in $2000 Longines watches. Its sharp yet soft angles enhance the grip, and the deep engraving of the Vario logo adds to the premium feel, surpassing its price range.
Dial & Hands
While the case and crown are exceptionally well-made, the real standout feature is the enamel dial. Words and pictures cannot fully capture its beauty. The enamel exudes a soft glow and reflects light in a way that creates depth, instantly catching the eye. There’s a reason why enamel dials are highly sought after, going beyond their practicality in terms of aging gracefully.
Enamel dials are crafted using a centuries-old technique that involves applying colored glass powder onto a base material, such as a dial, and subjecting it to high temperatures, resulting in a smooth, glossy, and durable surface. The process begins with melting silica and adding a flux to lower its melting point. A coloring agent, typically a mineral oxide like copper oxide, is added to achieve the desired color. The pigments used vary from enameller to enameller, resulting in unique and distinct shades. The colored glass is shaped into blocks, which are then crushed into powder.
The hands feature a fascinating dark grey coating, and their machining is of high quality, although nothing is out of the ordinary for this price range. The dark grey color may be inherent to the metal rather than a coating, which adds to its appeal.
The luminous paint on the dial and hands is expertly applied. It has a smooth texture and offers even brightness across the numerals and hands. Thanks to generous layering, the lume shines brightly for an extended duration.
Strap & Buckle
The leather strap is exceptionally supple and soft on both sides. It has a suede-like texture that ages gracefully, acquiring marks that add to its vintage charm. Personally, I appreciate the strap’s worn and weathered appearance.
One notable feature is the removable “pad” at the bottom of the strap, which allows for a thinner and less “tool watch” feel. This versatility opens up possibilities for pairing the watch with a variety of straps, such as a fancy leather NATO strap or a colorful NATO strap, further enhancing its aesthetic.
I appreciate Vario’s choice of this movement instead of incorporating a hidden date feature, as some microbrands do. A hidden date feature refers to a time-only watch that retains the date function internally, noticeable when adjusting the time.
Seiko claims an accuracy rating of -20 to +40 seconds per day for this movement, but due to adjustments, this specific watch performs at around +/-10 seconds per day. While the movement is renowned for its durability, precision is not its strong suit.
Read more about the NH38A movement here.
Given the cost-effectiveness of completely replacing the movement, servicing the NH38A movement is unlikely to be economically viable. However, this is not a major concern for me, as I prioritize the aging and longevity of the watch itself, rather than the movement. Moreover, Seiko movements like this have a well-established reputation for lasting decades without encountering significant issues.
The Vario Trench Medic is priced at $388 USD or 355 EUR.
Considering the exceptional construction quality, enamel dial, superb printing, and lume application, I find the asking price to be incredibly fair. It represents a remarkable value proposition, providing a wealth of specifications and design elements for the money.
To make your purchase, You can buy Vario on a few sites like here and here,, but I recommend buying directly from their website to ensure you receive the best customer service and warranty coverage, as no discounts are offered elsewhere.
On the Wrist
On my 17cm circumference wrist, the Vario Trench sits perfectly and provides a comfortable wearing experience, courtesy of the soft and supple leather strap.
The 4 o’clock crown position, combined with the rounded case and thinner lugs, gives the watch a smaller appearance, despite its 40mm size. However, the bund strap compensates for this by adding a larger visual presence to the entire watch. The option to remove the bottom pad provides even more versatility in terms of the watch’s look and feel.
Worth Noting: The non-medic version of the Vario Trench is also available in 37mm or 40mm sizes.
Vario is undoubtedly a brand that deserves recognition and attention. They have truly excelled with their Trench collection, and their upcoming WW2 field watch watch holds great promise.
The Vario Trench Medic unquestionably captures the essence of exquisite design and craftsmanship. It remains loyal to the authentic World War I Trench Watch, with only minor modifications to its dimensions and crown placement.
Furthermore, Vario impressively delivers outstanding quality and specifications at a reasonable price. It is rare for me to critique a timepiece without identifying any flaws, but Vario has displayed remarkable diligence and achieved a resounding success with the Trench Medic.