In Low German, Vandaag means “today.” Low German is not some lesser form of deustche Sprache, but instead refers to the flat plains and coastal areas of Northern Europe where the language variety has its roots. In most forms of German, the language is referred to as plattdeustche or some derivative of that, the platt also referring to the Northern European terrain. But platt has etmylogical meaning of “clear,” as in easy to understand.
You may not have needed a Germanic language lesson, but you’ve got one, and it’s relevant because Vandaag watches embody “today” and “clear.” The brand prides itself on its roots, with its watches designed and made in Germany, and the company headquartered in Oldenburg. Vandaag most recently brought out the Tiefsee Automatic diver, a watch whose modernity and simplicity captures the brand’s name and its linguistic roots.
On the Wrist
The Vandaag Tiefsee presents itself in an exceptionally clean, 41.5mm faceted tonneau case. The case demonstrates attention to detail beyond clean edges and a nice shape (both of which it has). Three primary facets complete the form: the side, the beveled edge and the top case. What’s great is the brushing on each matches the curve of the facet. Horizontal, slightly curved, and circular, respectively. It’s a great touch that allows the case to capture light a bit differently at each level.
After reaching peak hysteria in the 60s and 70s, the tonneau case again has grabbed hold of the market and is a popular choice for both new models and reissues. It’s no wonder, as it lends itself to easy-wearing due to its ability to integrate a case curve without disrupting the case profile. The Tiefsee proves this point, featuring a sweeping arc from lug to lug, transitioning seamlessly to the fitted bracelet. The effect is a watch that will be at home on all but the smallest of wrists.
There’s a lot of boring to be had in a simple dial, but Vandaag has avoided that with the Tiefsee diver. The muted matte grey dial is given a bit of pop by the polished marker surrounds and even more by the red date wheel, small as it may be. The dial is really a continuation of the simplicity of the rest of the watch, which finds its beauty in doing a few things well, rather than lots of things marginally. The flat sapphire and confirms the intention of modernity.
The Tiefsee Automatic in this iteration is the chromatic embodiment of Fifty Shades of Grey. From the brushed stainless steel, to the reflective bezel, to the matte of the dial, it’s grey on grey on grey. And I’m a fan. I think it’s the best version of the Tiefsee, which also comes with a blue dial/bezel or a fully blacked out case and dial.
Vandaag kept things simple with the Tiefsee dial, which is exactly what they should have done. Simple polished sword hands are complimented by the polished surrounds on the hour plots, which are identical all the way around. A 60-minute chapter ring surrounds the main dial; I will note that mine was slightly misaligned.
The Nemoto LumiNova NCW1000 lume on the hands and markers is adequate, but not stellar. You may be reading that and wondering about the lume. Nemoto invented LumiNova, and in a licensing deal with RC Tritec, lets them produce and market it out of Switzerland under the Super-LumiNova name. It’s the OG, if not as good or consistent as Super-LumiNova. That said, the lume on the Tiefsee is as good as many watches I’ve handled that use Super-Luminova.
Much like the deep sea from which the Tiefsee takes its name, this dial is wide open. Small but legible text indicates an automatic movement and 20 bar water resistance, and a unobtrusive brand name is printed at 12 o’clock. The best part of the dial is arguably the red date wheel with its beveled window. I think if it were larger, it would be too much, and if it were black or white, it would clash with the totally greyness of the watch. As is, it fits perfectly.
Case and Bracelet Details
Dial aside, the case is my favorite part of this watch. It just works so well. The proportions are spot on, and the finishing, as mentioned above, allow the watch to play with light in a way I don’t expect from fully brushed cases.
The undercut on the case allows for a bit of added wearability, though this is nothing like the cut-in on some Seikos—it’s mostly there just for style. What does help is the concave underside of the case.
The crown is well-sized, though I found getting it started from the locked position a bit stiff. Not a dealbreaker, but not as easy as I prefer. The highly reflective bezel turns smoothly, but with a small amount of wiggle when at rest. The shorter height and shallower grooving mean grip is not superb—dry fingers will have no issues, but a little oil or water will make it a challenge.
The Tiefsee bracelet is well done. Fitted endlinks with quick-release pins make swaps a snap, and the additional cutout in the lug box means you can fit any type of strap. I also applaud the use of a shorter milled clasp. It cuts down on wrist bulk and has a sleeker look.
The only drawback is the use of double-sided screw pins in the links, which necessitate a knitter’s dexterity and two appropriately sized screws. Not worth it; single-end screws are absolutely sufficient, and if a brand wants to punish customers and ensure the bracelet won’t fall off, friction pins will suffice.
The Tiefsee has a mountain of competition in the sub-$500 diver niche. Nevermind the uber-popular Seikos, the microbrand world is awash in affordable divers at the same price point with the same—and in some cases better—specs. But the Vandaag Tiefsee does offer a bit of flair and style missing on many of those other watches. It’s triumphs with an engaging case and, on this variant, a very cool color scheme (the only other greyed-out watch I know of is the Hodinkee Oris 65—quite a big price jump from this).
Not without its own flaws, the Vandaag Tiefsee Automatic presents an affordable way to diversify a fledgling collection. I enjoyed my time with it and I’d happily suggest the Tiefsee to a layperson looking for something a bit different.
Check out our other dive watch reviews
Check out the Vandaag website
Vandaag Tiefsee Specs