August 3, 2019
by Ariel Adams
Several months ago, when I was writing about the no-longer-made V-Tec Sigma from the no-longer-in-operation brand Ventura, little did I know that, soon after, I would be hearing from Venutra’s new owners. Ventura, the watch brand (not to be confused with the Hamilton Ventura watch collection) was originally started in 1989 and went into hibernation a few years ago, until 2016, when the revival apparently began. The brand is back with a sort of modern redo of the classic Ventura V-Matic EGO model — though the current owners do appear to hold the rights to all the company’s special treasures, which are located in Zurich, Switzerland. That might explain the German-esque look Ventura watches are often said to have.
The Ventura V-Matic EGO is a modern-looking automatic mechanical minimalist watch that the “new” Ventura decided to bring back to the world via Kickstarter. The V-Matic EGO was originally designed by the late and prolific Hannes Wettstein. Wettstein was one of a very small number of hired designers who created all the original Ventura products and, because of him, this is no simple watch. Crowd-funding continues to have wide appeal for a range of timepiece styles and brands — with the platform serving as much to announce the revival of the brand as to raise money for production of the new watches. These days, Kickstarter can be as much a part of a PR strategy as it is a funding tool. While Ventura certainly has more complicated watches in its catalog, it makes sense to start with something basic with wide appeal. If you look at the popularity of minimalist watches in the last few years (especially brands like Nomos), companies with “compatible designs” are likely wise to bank in on some of the action.
With an excellent design borne of a time when there was a lot of intelligence about how to make a good tool watch, the V-Matic EGO has a post-Bauhaus appeal that is difficult to find in both as refined and as visually stimulating a form. Don’t get me wrong, the V-Matic EGO is still a minimalist watch, but it has as many little details as they could pack in. The question is: How well made is the Ventura of today, compared with the Ventura of yesterday?
One must also consider price, but overall I think it is safe to say that the Ventura V-Matic EGO is far and away better than your typical Kickstarter timepiece. That said, I doubt that Ventura will rely on Kickstarter for too many (if any) future watches, since the brand is more or less established, as I understand it. Quality-wise, you have a dark matte titanium case here on the matching bracelet. Ventura offers the V-Matic EGO with both this black and a silver dial, as well as on the matching bracelet or a black leather strap. The silver dial is interesting because of its finish and the blued hands and hour markers. It might be the the star of the show, but I wanted to check out the black and white dial V-Matic EGO, since it reminds me of the Ventura I have fond memories of from yesterday.
The bowl-style shape of the 41mm-wide case is pleasant to look at and elegant. Over the dial is a domed sapphire crystal — which, unfortunately, has a lot of glare on it. But legibility remains good because of the high-contrast look of the face. All angles of the watch appear to have been carefully considered, and I really like how the bezel flows into the chapter ring, which flows into the dial. The case is medium in size and, overall, feels very well proportioned. It is a simple case, however, with only 30 meters of water resistance. The bracelet is fine, but not the most high-tech construction or deployant construction. Then again, it is very similar to what Ventura was producing in the 1990s, even though high-end watch materials and construction have come a long way since then. Applied, blocky hour makers work with slightly tapered skeletonized hands for a lovely and visually interesting time-telling experience. The date window is symmetrically placed at 6 o’clock and is custom-made for this watch (it doesn’t use a stock ETA date wheel).
Speaking of date wheels, the movement inside the Ventura V-Matic EGO is the Swiss Made ETA 2892-A2 automatic, which is a pretty decent grade of automatic that beats out the more common ETA 2824, especially in how thin it can be. You can view the movement through the caseback window. I’ve really liked wearing the Ventura V-Matic EGO for its timeless style and positioning as a “design-lover’s product.” It’s comfortable and easy to read, and enjoying the Ventura V-Matic EGO is probably easier than initially getting excited about it for many of today’s novice watch-lovers (who tend to frequent Kickstarter timepiece campaigns). If enough seasoned watch enthusiasts learn about and get behind the Ventura revival, then it could be a very bright next couple of years ahead. Today’s Ventura has now proven it can recreate the aesthetic magic of Ventura from the past; the question remains as to whether or not they have a vision for its future. Price for the Ventura V-Matic EGO watch debuted on Kickstarter at $900 USD on the strap and $1,000 on the matching titanium bracelet. The MSRP price of the Ventura V-Matic EGO after launch will be $1,350 on the strap and $1,500 on the bracelet. Learn more at the Ventura website here.
>Model: V-Matic EGO
>Price: $1,500 USD (as tested)
>When reviewer would personally wear it: As a daily-wear in a mature metropolitan market where a minimalist yet highly designed watch can be appreciated.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Design-lovers seeking a more masculine yet subtle tool-style modern Bauhaus watch also seeking practicality and comfort.
>Best characteristic of watch: Successful return of a watch case design that has aged remarkably gracefully. Not a design for everyone, but a timepiece that helps separate minimalist watches from mere simple ones.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Fair amount of glare on sapphire crystal even though legibility remains good. Bracelet is lightweight but could benefit from feeling more solid and precision-machined. This is easily evidenced by the deployant clasp.