When I first got to look at the Vero Open Water when the press images arrived, my first thought was, “Dang, that is a clean dial.” Not the most groundbreaking statement ever made about a modern dive watch, but one that says more about the Open Water than just this dial is uncluttered. Vero has undergone a refresh of sorts, as we described in our First Look at the Open Water a few weeks back. Vero is looking to reorganize and refresh their lineup. If the Open Water is any indication, they’re on the right track.
If you’re unfamiliar with Vero’s start, they used to manufacture most of the components of their watches (aside from movements) all in-house in Portland, Oregon. This is a crazy concept for any microbrand, especially one just getting on its feet. The watches they produced during this time were well-made, durable, and looked great. Vero has decided to take a new approach, one is that more traditional, with their new watches. While the Open Water isn’t made entirely in-house, the process and construction are more akin to successful microbrands. Most of the work is now done in Switzerland with assembly, QC, etc., being done in Portland. This leaves us with a fantastic-looking, well-built dive watch that has a great value proposition. Let’s dive in.
On the Wrist
If I could boil the Open Water down to my initial thoughts, they would be that this is an extremely comfortable watch and it is an affordable version of what makes the Sinn U50 an attractive watch. The 40mm bead-blasted case is thin at only 11mm. However, the wrist-to-crystal measurement is only 9mm. This watch sits low on the wrist, thanks in part to the flat caseback and gently sloping lugs.
There is more to how comfortable a watch is than just a thin case. On the opposite side of the spectrum, my Tudor Pelagos is over 14mm thick and is still one of my most comfortable watches. How does the Open Water pull off this level of comfort? As I mentioned above, that flat caseback and lugs have a lot to do with it. There is no significant bulge in the caseback. In fact, it is so flat that this fact noticeably stood out to me. Pair that with the lugs that turn down and fall just below the caseback and you have a watch that not only wears thin but matches the contour of your wrist.
The 47mm lug-to-lug is slightly longer because of the male endlinks. I would have preferred female endlinks but the design works here and the endlinks look good with the lug design. With that said, it wears true to the 47mm lug-to-lug because of the turn-down discussed above.
When it comes to creature comforts on dive watches, the Open Water ticks all my boxes: a 60-click bezel, flat sapphire, and a comfortable bracelet. These are all things that some brands just can’t seem to see the value in, and I have no idea why, especially regarding the flat sapphire. Flat sapphire is legible from almost any angle and doesn’t give weird distortions like double-domed sapphire. I also don’t know who brought 120 click bezels into mainstream dive watches but we desk divers don’t need them. I realize they have their place in professional dive environments, but we all know most dive watch owners are afraid to shower with their watches. 60 clicks feels better, works better, and is more practical than 120 clicks.
Vero Open Water Video Review
The Open Water’s dial is simple, clean, and effective. The text is kept to a minimum to maintain symmetry and I am happy to see Vero put all the tech specs on the back of the watch instead of loading up the dial.
Without a chapter ring or hash marks, the dial is distraction-free. These elements are contained on the bezel and while this approach has been taken before, Vero’s execution of it is flawless. The lume-filled applied markers are outlined in black, creating an extremely subtle contrast between the dial and markers. This contrast isn’t as subtle on the North Coast (gray dial) variant, but it is still effective here.
The same effect applies to the hour and minute hands, although the hands can fade into the dial in darker light. The lume on the hands still stands out so reading the time isn’t difficult. The seconds hand is matte gray with a lumed tip and while it doesn’t add that pop of color we like talking about so much, it does add an additional subtle color to the dial.
The bezel is an absolute joy to operate. Each of the 60 clicks has a satisfying, chunky click that almost feels like the mechanism is ceramic. The bezel is flush with the case but provides plenty of grip no matter how you like spinning the bezel. There are lumed plots on each 5-minute segment with an additional lume plot on the first 4 segments up to the 15 minute mark.
Case & Bracelet
While there isn’t a lot to talk about in terms of finishing on the case as it and the bracelet are entirely bead-blasted, the design is well-executed. The case design is a mix of elegant curves and sharp angles. Most watches try to do one of these things, but Vero has nailed both. The endlinks and lugs when viewed from the top of watch curve down gently and their matching profile looks smooth as butter. Flip the watch to the side and the lugs angle sharply toward the crown guards. The dichotomy presented here shouldn’t work, but it really, really does.
I was sure that the crown was going to be too small after seeing the launch photos of the Open Water. It is a small crown, but that doesn’t mean it is too small. It sticks out just past the crown guards to ensure you have a little bit of real estate to get a grip. The knurling also provides enough bite so that winding the watch and setting the time is easy. If the small appearance of the crown was putting you off, rest assured it is not an issue.
On the surface, the bracelet appears like a run-of-the-mill Oyster-style bracelet. While there aren’t any tricks up its sleeve like a quick-adjust clasp or quick-release endlinks, the links are fully articulating. Perhaps this is why the male endlinks don’t bother me; the bracelet is able to fall right off the watch and drape around the wrist effortlessly. The clasp is my only real complaint about the bracelet. It is milled and solid, but it just seems like an afterthought, especially considering how great the rest of the watch is. With that said, it is perfectly functional and secure.
We haven’t seen many microbrands execute a soft relaunch, especially like Vero has done. I was curious why Vero hadn’t launched anything in a decent amount of time and after seeing the Open Water, I’m glad to see they were biding their time well. The Open Water is a fantastic dive watch at quite a few higher price points, but at $875 on the bracelet, it is positioned perfectly. It is an approachable price point for a Swiss-made, USA-assembled dive watch.
The Open Water is a great reentry into the market for Vero and while it is a slight departure from their previous catalog of watches, it doesn’t stray too far. It does make me wonder what is next for the refreshed brand. The Open Water is fun, accessible, and feature-packed. If you were a fan of Vero before, or if this is the first time you’ve seen them on your radar, the Open Water is the perfect watch to dive in with.
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Vero Open Water Specs
*Height of the watch from the wrist to the top of the crystal