May 10, 2019
I never could have guessed that I’d one day find myself ruminating on the origins of what many might see as another common microbrand watch release. In this game, the process is generally simple: go to the Hong Kong Watch and Clock Fair with a bag of money, walk out with a watch brand, and profit. By this time in 2019, brands that hope to differentiate themselves in a wave of Kickstarter projects really need to take a different approach — and that’s something Vero took its time with when designing the SW-SS watch that we’re evaluating today. The stakes are even higher when we start throwing around phrases like “U.S.-made” and “in-house.” But as skeptical as I was in the beginning, I slowly found myself more and more pleased with this very watch, conceived not far from my little corner of the world.
Portland, Oregon is a wacky town. We’re talking CBD-infused beer, the tiniest urban park you’ll ever see, and the world’s only vegan strip club — that kind of wacky. But it’s also one of my favorite places in the world (with some incredible hiking) and a spot that Vero hopes could be seen as a hub for the future of American watch manufacturing. Considering the design and manufacturing processes driving this watch, I think Vero is well on its way as a brand. Even if the U.S.-made claims don’t speak to you, what we have here is a basic sport watch that will work for the average weekend adventurer.
As far as Vero goes, this is where all the magic happens. I’ll break it down because the details are actually pretty impressive. Every case component that you see is made in-house by Vero. That includes the crown, crown tube, crown washer, and movement ring. What you’ll immediately notice is that the case is considerably curved, with a deep contour on the caseback side for comfort not unlike what you’d find on a watch like the Orion Calamity. In this case, however, everything is completed right here in the Pacific Northwest. On the wrist, it feels like one solid piece of steel with a nice, fluid design that results in an airy wearing experience.
At 41mm-wide, 46mm lug-to-lug, and just 11.5mm-thick, it’s also a pretty easy watch to wear. Looking topside, however, the bezel and the lugs are entirely polished. This didn’t matter much to me, but I know that some folks try to minimize the number of polished surfaces on their sport watches. A fully bead-blasted version would be awesome. Still, it’s impressive to see this diverse range of finishing found throughout a case made right here in the US. If you aren’t into that sort of finishing, Vero also offers a completely DLC-coated version that you can see pictures of throughout this review. It’s a little sportier if you ask me and Ariel supplied some great shots of this version (the Vero SW) for comparison. Finally, the Vero SW-SS offers 200m of water resistance and if there’s one thing I could change, it would be the addition of a screw-down crown, which would only serve to elevate the sportiness of the piece.
I should also mention that the two-part nickel-plated dial and rehaut are also designed and manufactured in Portland. Overall, the design is pilot-like in its execution, with altimeter-style black oxide-coated steel sword hands and the kind of large, six-time-printed Arabic numerals that remind me of what you’d find on some Bell & Ross watches. With this kind of look, I doubt legibility will be an issue for many and I also liked the color variation observed between both the SW and SW-SS models — blue seconds hand for the DLC-coated model and orange for the plain stainless steel variant. If I’m being just a little nitpicky, I would have loved it if Vero had incorporated just a slightly larger handset.
Although it works, I have to say that the dial design is definitely the watch’s weakest point. I’m not sure why, but something about it just makes me feel like I’m staring at a common Seiko 5 mod — something others would mod in order to achieve a poor man’s Sinn-style look. In the future, I’d like to see Vero offer a slightly more interesting alternative to the dial design found on the SW and SW-SS. Aside from that, we have ourselves a nice, legible dial with a fully-graduated track along the periphery and a nice treatment of Super-LumiNova. No complaints there.
The Vero SW-SS comes with an integrated silicone strap that loves dust. It’s about as basic as they come, but case integration is almost perfect and very comfortable. It’s thick but form-fitting and adds to the overall vibe of the piece. While I couldn’t entirely understand how the strap could be swapped, I think this is one watch I probably wouldn’t change straps on. Much like the dial design, I’d like to Vero expand their line of SW straps to include a range of color options that would allow buyers to customize their watches at checkout.
Additionally, I’d argue that this is just one of those watches that need an integrated strap. The case curvature is so comfortable that anything else would just feel wrong. A NATO might be a bit silly but perhaps Vero can one day engineer a bracelet that complements the case’s contour. Again, aside from dust, the strap was very comfortable and easy to wear.
Inside the Vero SW-SS is a Sellita SW 200 Swiss automatic movement. It has been regulated in six positions to +/-5 seconds per day. Honestly, that’s really the kind of performance I noticed. And with a base movement like this, you can’t really go wrong. Finally, it features 26-jewel construction and delivers 38 hours of power reserve.
I’ll admit that the Vero SW-SS is one of the strongest microbrand releases in recent times. Certainly, it’s more interesting than most of the products several watch brands are pitching as “American Made” these days. It’s not 100% there, but I’m excited to see real American case manufacturing up here in the Pacific Northwest. I won’t name names, but I’d take this over several of the overpriced, rough and tumble “adventure” watches a few of the Swiss brands are pitching today. Price for the Vero SW-SS is $1,650. Learn more at vero-watch.com.
>Size: 41mm-wide, 46mm lug-to-lug, and 11.5mm-thick
>Would reviewer would personally wear it: Yes.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Emerging watch enthusiast seeking a solid sports piece with ties to modern day American watch manufacturing.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Uninspiring dial design.
>Best characteristic of watch: Case contour and integrated strap.