Updates on the Vaer Dive Watch: Photos, Specs, and Delivery Timelines
This prototype of the Vaer D5 Atlantic shows off the envy-inducing curvature of the 20ATM case design - in our opinion, one the most beautiful cases available at any price point.
By Reagan Cook and Ryan Torres
September 6th, 2020
Looking for photos? Scroll down for all the latest shots 👇
It's been a long time coming, but Vaer is finally making a dive watch.
Looking at where we started back in 2016, and where we are now, it's been such an incredible journey. We firmly believe that the Vaer Diver will set a new standard for design, craftsmanship and value in the sub-$1000 segment - and put the rest of the industry on-notice in terms of what is possible from an independent American watch brand.
Quick Intro: Why Are We Making a Dive Watch?
As founders we've always have a pretty strong advantage when it comes to designing ocean-ready watches: we spend nearly everyday surfing, swimming or diving in the Pacific Ocean.
This experience has always informed the direction of our company, and our product design choices. Every watch we've ever sold has had a 10ATM water-resistance with a locking screwdown, and come standard with two interchangeable waterproof straps. Our C5 and A5 are fully capable of casual diving, and so we wanted to make our first real diver truly special.
In creating this new watch we had two main goals:
1) Build the most impressive technical product in Vaer history.
2) Create an aesthetic design to compete with $2k-5k dive watches.
One of the first decisions we made was the style of dive watch we wanted to build. A lot of micro-brands have gained attention by pushing the boundaries of technical specs (for example, offering 1000 meter water resistance rating for under $1000).
That's not the route we wanted to take.
We wanted a watch that we could wear everyday, all day, both in and out of the water. While 100ATM ratings, and helium escape valves sound cool on paper, from our own experience of hundreds of hours in the water, we realized a bigger priority was to keep the watch as slim and comfortable as possible.
At 20ATM, we are able to cover 99% of in-water use cases (and guarantee our waterproof warranty) while offering a class-leading 12mm case thickness, 39mm diameter, and the added appeal of an AR-coated sapphire glass exhibition caseback.
With pre-order pricing starting at only $375 we believe the USA Assembled Vaer Dive watch represents an exceptional value, and a compelling addition to any dive collection.
You can find the latest updates on the Vaer Dive Watch below:
If you're just discovering Vaer, the first thing you should know is that we are a small team - specifically, two people.
We are trying our best to keep everyone informed on the progress of our campaign and share photos and videos as soon as they are available. If you have purchased a Dive Watch as a part of our Early Bird Pre-Order and you have questions of concerns about you order, or would like further clarification on information in this article please contact us at email@example.com
Update #4: Production Sample Components
The final form of the Vaer Diver is here - and it's truly a thing of beauty. The biggest updates from the previous round of CNC samples is the true-to-life 24-point diver crown (previous samples used a smaller, cap-domed crown from the Vaer A5 Auto), and corrected numerals/indices on all the ceramic bezels.
Additionally, we have our first look at the previously unseen D5 Tropic and the D5, D7 Arctic models - both of which look truly fantastic.
Note: There are protective stickers covering the case glass.
The crown and twisted-lug case shape are shared across all models. The bezels vary slightly. The D5 Pacific Tan, is pictured above.
The D5 and D7 Arctic models, are differentiated with an Gladiator hour-hand and unique bezel font that pays tribute to the iconic, and extremely rare 1970s Milsub.
We've added a high-polish finish to the underside of the bezel, for a subtle but eye-catching low-angle viewing experience.
The Diver is our first time using applied indices. As we draw our design inspiration from the 1940 - 1970 period, we've tried to use them subtly, to maintain a strong heritage aesthetic.
Subtle rounding is one of Vaer's consistent design cues. All triangular and rectangular indices are custom shaped to match this overarching aesthetic.
This bezel arrangement is the most commonly repeated in the line-up: shared by the Atlantic, Tropic and Pacific White designs.
Both the double domed top crystal and the exhibition caseback feature anti-reflective coating.
The D5 Tropic design was our biggest gamble, but everything is coming together into an incredibly distinctive design (note: American Assembly text is missing).
One of the most distinctive design concepts in the entire line-up is the D5 Tropic's custom roulette date wheel, which reflects our oft repeated design reference to the number 4.
"I think the standard blueprint for most online watch brands is to identify one popular watch style and then focus profits into marketing that design to as many people as possible. At Vaer, we've taken a different approach. In 2019, our quartz lineup was just starting to hit its stride when we opted to direct the majority of our energy into launching our first range of automatics via Kickstarter. This year was the same - instead of focusing solely on what was working we decided to invest significant time and energy into building something brand new with our first dive watch. While this strategy may not make the most business sense, I think it's evidence of the fact that we see Vaer as product-first brand. Profits and growth are great, but respect from our customers and our peers is the ultimate goal.
- Reagan Cook, Vaer Co-Founder
Update #3: Updated Bezel + Real World Testing
We were incredibly happy with our first CNC samples, but there were still a few things missing. At the top of the list was a fully custom bezel ring (the first samples used stand-in numerals and markers). Since this is our first time ever designing a watch with a bezel, it was hard to get a full appreciation of the design and on-wrist aesthetic without the bezel being complete.
Fortunately, that's now been fixed. Our retro-style numerals look fantastic, and while they're still a bit too big (which will be resolved in the next update) we now have full confidence in the overall connectedness of our design choices.
Below you can find some detail shots of our updated D5 Atlantic CNC model, as well as some behind the scenes shots from some upcoming Dive-oriented projects.
While the Vaer Dive case is 39mm, our bezel is 40mm creating a distinctive over-hanging coin edge. Beyond a cool aesthetic, this feature provides a much easier grip when wearing gloves.
This sample version still uses the Vaer A5 crown - the final Diver crown will be significantly more prominent for improved in-water ergonomics.
This shot provides a good reference on the final handset used across most of the Dive watches. The Arctic models will have a larger gladiator-style hour hand.
"When people picture a dive watch they typically think of it installed on a steel bracelet. While providing a best-in-class bracelet was important for us, we also wanted to maintain our company's tradition of offering easy interchangeability. Designing a case that could incorporate a bracelet, as well as Horween leather straps, rubber tropic straps, and pass-through single pass straps was a real challenge, but we made it work. As a result, all Vaer Divers will be sold with two straps standard, offering incredible opportunities to quickly change up your look."
- Ryan Torres, Vaer Co-Founder
Connor taking our khaki single-pass strap to the outer limits on a 11mm thick cold-water diving wetsuit.
Switched onto our Horween leather straps the diver transforms into an incredibly elegant and tasteful everyday wearer.
We've tested all of our watches in the real world to ensure that they will stand up to the most extreme levels of in-water exposure.
Update #2: First CNC Samples
It took longer than we would have liked, but our first CNC samples are here, and they are everything we were hoping for. Every stage of development from the transition from 2D mocks, to digital renders, to plastic 3D printed samples to steel and glass working prototypes is both rewarding and challenging (as new issues always arise).
However, based on these first CNC samples (of the D5 Atlantic and D5 Pacific models) we are confident we have a winner on our hands.
As a watch company owners we get a chance to handle a lot of different watches from $20 Casios, to $20,000 FP Journes - and we can say with all honesty that our Diver case design is something very special.
Vintage collectors will recognize design elements from iconic 1960s-era Omega, Rolex and Blancpain divers. This is intentional, and speaks to our general design approach as a brand - to reference the rich history of horology, in products that are modern, durable and affordable enough for casual buyers to enjoy.
This low side angle shows off the unique curvature of the Vaer Dive case.
A prototype of our quick-release steel bracelet. The final version will have a Vaer logo engraved on the clasp.
Our first prototype of the D5 Pacific. While the dial is a close match to final production, the bezel on this model is a stand-in.
All Vaer Divers will be sold with the option of a Khaki single pass Nato-style strap, which in our opinion is the most functional strap for extended ocean exposure.
A sizing reference on a 6.75" wrist - unlike most Dive watches, our design has a very slim on-wrist profile thanks to a 39mm case, 12mm case thickness, and significant curvature.
"We had a great experience with Kickstarter in 2019 - beyond the success of raising $222k in 30 days, we were able to fulfill our promised timeline to our community of backers. We considering doing another public campaign for the Dive Watch in 2020, but ultimately decided we wanted to keep the pre-order campaign reserved for existing customers, and those that opted-in via surveys and outreach. We will be launching the finished Diver to the general public via press and reviewers in the fall, and we think it's going to be pretty popular."
- Ryan Torres, Vaer Co-Founder
Update #1: Case Design Finalized
When we launched our Early Bird Access in July 14th we had 80% of the Vaer Dive design locked in - however, there is always some degree of adjustment required to merge technical specs, strap requirements and aesthetic guidelines together into a final design.
This is our most complex and technically impressive case design to date and we wanted to get it right - and we're confident that we're now there.
Both the USA assembled D5 models and Swiss Made D7 models will integrate seamlessly into our strap lineup, meaning that you can seamlessly switch straps between the 36mm S3/C3 models, the 39mm Diver, and the 40mm C5/A5/A7 etc. This may be a small feature to some, but we think it going to be a really exciting selling point for those that want to balance wrist time across a couple of favorite models.
Note: Due to custom end-link requirements, the upcoming quick-release Vaer metal bracelet will be specific to a single case design (36mm, 40mm, and Diver).
These screenshots from Autodesk show off the prominent angles and flowing lines of the Dive case design. We're excited to see how these shapes translate into working prototypes.
Summary: Dive Campaign Details
The Dive campaign launched mid-summer 2020 to our community of Early Bird insiders, and then to the full Vaer email list. While units are very limited all designs are still available as of September 14th 2020. You can find additional details below:
- Pre-Order Access Live Now
- Campaign is live at this link
- Discount is now 20%
- Shipment will begin in October 2020
- Each watch includes two straps
- Bracelet and Horween Leather straps are $79 more
- First 100 of each watch is serialized (xxx/100)
- Limited serialized pieces remain in each model
- Minor aesthetic changes may occur before production
We appreciate your support in helping to bring this project to life, and feel free to reach out with any questions.
Ryan and Reagan co-founded Vaer Watches in Venice, California in 2016. As small business owners they handle just about every aspect of the daily operations of the company from watch design and supply chain management, to customer support and photography. Over the years, they've learned a thing or two about watchmaking, online retail, and American sourcing and assembly. If you have a question, comment or correction related to this article you can contact the authors directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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