Watch in a Day: VARIO Eclipse, 60s Bauhaus style watch inspired by Chinese mythology

Bauhaus watches are characterised by the use of non-complex, minimalist designs. It grew in popularity within the mainstream watch market and proved to be a hit among consumers, but not many brands got them right — down to the details. VARIO is one of the brands that managed to find the balance between form and substance. The VARIO Eclipse was launched and funded on Kickstarter in May 2017. 

VARIO was established by Ivan, a Singaporean graphic designer with a lifelong dream of creating and designing his own products. The brand actually started out with graphic design NATO straps and naturally, the next step for Ivan was to create his very own watch. Designed in Singapore, the VARIO Eclipse is a essentially a dress watch inspired by various cultures.  Interestingly, it could be a clear representation of Singapore as a country, a true melting pot of cultures.

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Hematite and Topaz dial

For starter, the VARIO Eclipse comes with either a quartz or handwound movement, each in six different dial tone — Topaz (Blue), Hematite (Grey), Onyx (Black), Pyrite (White), Ruby (Red) and Emerald (Green). Rather than having a flat colour, the dial features a radiant, high polished sunburst. It gleams differently under the light of the day and levels out in contrast with the city lights at night.

To be honest, when I was first introduced to the VARIO Eclipse, I imagined that the polished hands would not work well in terms of visibility; especially for the Hematite dial. Boy, was I wrong. In person, the texture of the hands are highly distinguishable and reflect light autonomously without any conflict with the sunburst dial. The “VARIO” logo is non-intrusive and lies inconspicuously below the 12 o’clock position.

My favourite feature of the dial? No date; pure simplicity, 100% Bauhaus style.

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The dial is encased within a 3mm double dome sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on the inner surface and a 8mm thick 316L stainless steel case. Its vintage inspired teardrop lugs are angled nicely to hug the wrist gently.  Together with its case diameter of 38mm, the VARIO Eclipse can be ranked as a slim dress watch which can be  tucked snugly under the sleeve.

All the elements mentioned are a huge shout-out (or throwback?) to watches from the 60s, and according to Ivan, he also drew inspiration from a Chinese mythology about the moon. Coincidental or not, United States humanity landed its first man on the moon in the 60s.

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Quartz
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Handwound

Flipping over the VARIO Eclipse, there is something unusual about it. Why are there some Chinese characters, coupled with a hound howling at the moon, engraved right on the case back of a 60s Bauhaus style watch?

This brings us back to the Chinese mythology that inspired the VARIO Eclipse. For non-mandarin speaking readers, the Chinese characters read “Heavenly Hound devours the Moon”. It is truly an invoking story that brings about an interesting perspective to the timepiece. If you are interested to learn more about it, you can read the full story on VARIO.

VARIO offers their customers an option of having either a quartz or handwound movement at two different price point. The look and feel of the watch is exactly the same for both variants. You must be thinking, “I’d just go for handwound, what’s the fuss?”. Hold your horses, hear me out.

The quartz calibre is no ordinary movement. It is a high torque quartz movement by Time Module (TMI), a member of the Seiko Holdings Group. Unlike regular quartz that ticks once per second, the TMI VH31 movement ticks four times per second or 14,400bph. Its second hand ticks like a mechanical calibre to the untrained eye — hell, it could even fool me!

For the handwound variant, VARIO opted for the Miyota 6T33 calibre. It is a standard skeleton movement ticking at 28,800bph with a power reserve of 40 hours. The crown operates smoothly for both time adjustments and winding up the movement. I gained about 7 seconds in a day, much better than the expected ~40 seconds. Considering that the movement is not calibrated, it actually performed quite well.

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The VARIO Eclipse is paired with a genuine handmade Harris Tweed strap. I have never come across any tweed strap which makes this a completely new experience for me. The handwoven tweed is backed by a soft leather backing for maximum comfort. In picture, it may appear coarse and stiff but it is actually extremely comfortable on the wrist, even in Singapore’s tropical heat.

The Harris Tweed strap takes on the shape of the wrist quickly after a few wears. It should be noted that the strap might be more suitable for people with small to medium wrist size due to its length.

There are seven different colours to choose from: Coal (Black), Ash (Grey), Cobalt (Blue), Peacock (Green), Merlot (Red), Pecan (Brown) and Lavender (Purple).

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The VARIO Eclipse is suitable for both men and women, from formal to casual settings. I personally had a growing positive experience wearing it and my wife enjoys it too. With a preference for mechanical timepiece, my choice would be the handwound variant. However the quartz is a worthy contender and should be taken more seriously as an option if you prefer a ‘grab-and-go’ watch.

Convinced? You can now purchase the VARIO Eclipse at a promotional price of US$178 (retail price: US$218) for the quartz and US$268 (retail price: US$328) for the handwound till end November 2017. The Harris Tweed strap can also be purchased at US$36 and you can now enjoy the ‘buy 2 get 1 free’ offer.

Specifications

Handwound

Case diameter: 38mm
Height to apex of crystal: 11mm
Case thickness: 8mm
Crystal: 3mm scratch resistant double dome sapphire (anti-reflective coating on inner surface)
Case material: 316L stainless steel
Strap: 20mm Harris Tweed strap
Movement: Miyota 6T33 hand-wound mechanical movement
Water Resistance: 5 ATM

Quartz

Case diameter: 38mm
Height to apex of crystal: 10mm
Case thickness: 7mm
Crystal: 3mm scratch resistant double dome sapphire (anti-reflective coating on inner surface)
Case material: 316L stainless steel
Strap: 20mm Harris Tweed strap
Movement: Seiko VH31 quartz movement (4 Hz) Ticks 4x/sec
Water Resistance: 5 ATM

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