MICRO MONDAYS: The Vario 1945 D12 Field Watch delivers vintage vibes for a bargain price MICRO MONDAYS: The Vario 1945 D12 Field Watch delivers vintage vibes for a bargain price

MICRO MONDAYS: The Vario 1945 D12 Field Watch delivers vintage vibes for a bargain price

Fergus Nash

Vario are one of the most beloved microbrands, and despite the fact that they may not receive as much hype as others, they still hold onto an incredibly loyal fanbase. With an unbelievable ability to deliver quality for budget prices, Vario’s efforts retain a unique signature style while evoking vintage watches effortlessly. As a manufacturer of straps as well, you know that they’re not taking shortcuts with any of the accessories. Following on from the success of the Vario 1918 Trench Watch, we’ve now moved forward into the realm of the Vario 1945 D12.

If you’re unfamiliar with the general popularisation of wristwatches, the largely ornamental women’s watches of the early 1900s were mostly seen as jewellery rather than timepieces. Having shown off their micro-watchmaking skills on those tiny movements, movement manufacturers were in a prime position to capitalise on the wristwatch necessity for men fighting in WWI. By the time WWII began, men’s wristwatches had already branched off into several styles and functions, such as those that inspired the Vario Versa. When the British Ministry of Defence created a list of specifications for watches to issue to soldiers, 12 brands supplied the orders and became known as the Dirty Dozen. The Vario 1945 D12 gets its name and inspiration from those watches, with a few choice modern improvements.

The case

Although vintage accuracy is always seen as a box to tick with reissues, the 1945 D12 is much more about inspiration than imitation. It does its best to evoke the Dirty Dozen watches without trying too hard to be one, and as such it keeps some of that infectious Vario optimism that seems to run through their designs. Its case features a bezel with a brushed, flat face, similar to that of the Cyma design, but the lugs are a little more curvaceous and tucked in. Its alternation between brushed and polished surfaces definitely brings a contemporary touch, and the most glaring anachronism is the crown located at 4 o’clock.

Dirty Dozen watches varied in size from 35mm up to 38mm, and Vario have chosen a 37mm sizing for their 1945 D12. This is a nice middle ground between modern presence and vintage vibes, while ensuring unisex comfort from the 45mm lug-to-lug. The case is only 10.5mm thick and has a 100m water resistance with a screw-down crown, so it’s more than capable of being a comfortable adventurer should you want to wear it in the field.

The dial

The main features of a Dirty Dozen dial have all been covered by the Vario 1945 D12, with Arabic numerals, a small seconds complication, and an accented luminous index at 12. Other than those, the most famous aspect of a genuine Dirty Dozen watch is the Broad Arrow/Pheon printed on the dial, however imitations of this symbol are somewhat controversial and Vario have elected to leave it out. This leaves extra room on the dial for the numerals to be emboldened, the seconds subdial to shrink and merely remove the 6 rather than cut into other numbers, and also for Vario’s logo. It’s hard to see in some photos, but Vario have etched their logo into the texture of the dial itself so that it appears clean from far away.

Four colours have been produced in the 1945 D12 range, each with a grained finish that imitates the effects of ageing. Of course there is a black model for the traditional look and maximum versatility, but there are also options in grey, green and beige should you want something a little bit lighter.

The strap

As strap makers, you can count on Vario to include something nice with the 1945 D12. Each strap will be colour matched to the watch dial, but the prototypes have not all been completed yet. The finished Cordura straps will look like the one attached to the black model in this photo, second from the right.

The movement

Keeping the price down and the performance reliable is the Miyota 82S5 movement made in Japan. It’s quite a simple automatic calibre, but still features the necessary conveniences like hacking seconds and hand-winding. The power reserve is 42 hours with a 21,600vph beat rate, and Miyota provide a loose accuracy rating within -20/+40 seconds per day. The movement bears some decoration, but this is hidden behind a solid caseback with a significant etching. It shows a British soldier carrying a flag within the borders of modern Singapore, symbolising the struggle in WWII over the territory in which Vario watches are made today.

The Vario 1945 D12 Field Watch pricing and availability:

The first batch of Vario 1945 D12 watches will be fewer than 400 pieces and launched on June 6. This will allow delivery to occur between July and August 2023, with the watches arriving in time to commemorate the end of WWII on September 2nd. Price: US$368

Brand Vario
Model 1945 D12
Case Dimensions 37mm x 10.5mm x 45mm
Case Material Stainless steel
Water Resistance 100m
Crystal(s) Sapphire
Dial Black, grey, green, beige
Lug Width 18mm
Strap Cordura
Movement Miyota 82S5
Power Reserve 42 hours
Availability Limited to 400 pieces, launched on June 6th 2023
Price US$368