Versace as a brand is most commonly associated with edgy Italian fashion. I’m not an expert when it comes to writing about clothing, but I’ve long appreciated Versace’s ability to take aesthetics that are part of Italian history and incorporate them into everything from socks to suits. But they also make watches. A while back, I had the chance to handle the “enthusiast quality” Versace Aiakos Automatic reference V18040017 in all steel with a matching silver-tone dial, a model that was incredibly restrained compared to most of the brand’s watches.

Versace clearly tries to reach existing fans of the brand with their timepieces. The watches are an exercise in taking popular themes from the world of serious timepiece design and collecting and incorporating them into a fashion watch that premium clothing buyers are excited to wear. The fashion watch category is incredibly diverse, with quality and composition varying greatly from brand to brand. The majority of fashion houses work with outside partners to produce their timepieces, save for a very select number that own smaller firms producing timepieces for them such as Chanel, Hermes, and Louis Vuitton. Such fashion watches are typically at the top of the pricing and quality ladder. So where does Versace fit in?

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For a long time now, Versace watches have been produced by Timex, and designed by Timex’s design team in Milan, Italy (headed by Giorgio Galli). Timex is a US company based in Connecticut, but their Italian design team is responsible for all the Versace, Salvatore Ferragamo, and other fashion licensing watches that the company produces. That is a good thing if you are interested in actually buying a good watch.

As I discussed when reviewing the women’s Versace Medusa Stud Icon, Timex’s design team handles the difficult tasks of both imagining and producing the watches for demanding partners such as Versace. This involves Timex learning the Versace brand, and then building ongoing collections of watches that harmoniously exist within that brand. At the same time, the watches need to have independent merit as timepiece instruments. That means Versace watches need to at once be something that satisfies the requirements to be functional timepieces and must that exist within the Versace universe. The Timex team in Milan is actually pretty darn good at that.

Watch lovers’ initial response to a watch like the Versace Aiakos Automatic was likely muted. “Why does it have all that extra stuff on it?” Well, because it is a Versace watch. Have you seen a Versace suit? The brand is all about lavish textures and patterns which hearken back to traditional Roman and Greek architecture and translate that into fashion iconography. The Aiakos Automatic is an exercise in creating a modern casual/dressy watch for people who want something that is a respectable Swiss Made timepiece that also exists within a fashion theme or brand they admire. In that, the Versace Aiakos Automatic did a pretty good job.

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As a dress watch, it might seem large, but the wider diameter case is in style and makes a case for itself. The irony is that on many wrists with a suit, the watch might have looked a bit large. Meaning that in my opinion, this watch is actually a bit better suited (unless you are a larger-wristed man) for short sleeves. The steel case is well-machined and 44mm wide, about 11mm thick, and with about a 52mm lug-to-lug distance (about as large as my wrist can take). Over the dial is an AR-coated sapphire crystal, and the case is water-resistant to 50 meters. The non-screw-down crown has a nice Medusa logo motif on it, which is echoed on the dial at 12 o’clock. What I found interesting and sort of cool is that the Medusa logo at each spot differs a little bit.

The case has its share of complex design elements, including the siding and the bracelet construction. I actually thought the bracelet was nicely done with the sloped edges of the polished links and the asymmetric laser-engraving of the particular pattern (I believe Versace calls it its “Greca” motif) running down its length. That same Greca pattern shows up on the dial on the same plane, allowing it to look as though it is flowing through the entire watch.

The dial of the watch has excellent proportions for the hands and hour markers, which are legible even though the dial has a sort of “light on light” color palette, given that it is just a mix of silver finishes and tones. You do need to have some penchant for the Versace brand to appreciate the dial’s personality, but if you do then you never need to feel as though you are sacrificing form over function since this dial is also quite classic in its overall appeal.

One small pet peeve that some watch lovers have is the fact that the case clearly contains a movement that is smaller than its overall diameter. This doesn’t bother me, but some collectors dislike seeing a case that is obviously twice the size of the movement or where the date window is close to the center of the dial (the latter being a telltale sign of the former). I agree that a more harmonious matching of movement size and case is ideal, but I don’t think most consumers mind the movement size or the date position.

You can view the movement through the sapphire crystal caseback window. It is a Swiss ETA 2824 automatic that operates at 4Hz with about 42 hours of power reserve. The movement was ordered with some decoration which helps up the visual prestige of the product. Versace might not pull business away from traditional watch brands such as Longines, Baume & Mercier, or Hamilton with their timepiece collections, but fashionistas may not feel the need to leave the brand if they want a decent timepiece.

For me, that is where Versace succeeds. Its relationship with the Timex team in Milan has ensured that its watches are handsome and decent when judged in a vacuum. Their real appeal comes in if you are interested in the Versace brand, meaning that you can wear one of these timepieces and not feel like you need to make excuses for why you aren’t wearing a more traditional brand. Versace is probably going to sell more of its women’s watches than men’s (at least in the West), but I think its large and mature collection of watches deserves a look from people who want something classic, but also hip and not boring. At present, Versace’s timepiece collection lacks something this conservative, the closest option being the 41mm quartz Greca Time Watch, the brand’s apparent take on a Rolex Datejust. The Versace Aiakos Automatic reference V18040017 had an original retail price of $1,895 USD, though it can currently be found online for well under $1,000 USD.  For more information, please visit the brand’s website.

Necessary Data
>Brand: Versace
>Model: Aiakos Automatic reference V18040017
>Price: Under $1,000 USD ($1,895 original retail)
>Size: 44mm-wide, about 11mm-thick, 52mm lug-to-lug distance
>When reviewer would personally wear it: At a more youthful social event where elegance as much as Italian brands are appreciated.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Lover of the Versace brand who wants something that reminds him of the fashion house’s iconic look but that doesn’t scream too distinctive a call.
>Best characteristic of watch: Very competent merger of Versace aesthetics and traditional timepiece design. Good overall fit and finishing. Bracelet is nicely designed and comfortable.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Case diameter is a bit wide for many wrists, making the watch seem unnecessarily large for a lot of wearers. Versace does not have much cache at this time when it comes to watches, so it takes a confident consumer to proudly wear it at this time (but there is nothing wrong with that).

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