Those who follow fashion outside of the watch industry niche know by now that the funky, maximalist style of the ‘70s is creeping back into collections across the world. Of course, this modern revival of the disco era comes with its own uniquely modern reinterpretations, and it was only a matter of time before this louche neo-‘70s design philosophy circled back to the horological community. Young Canadian brand Vieren is one of the marques full-throatedly embracing this aesthetic revival, particularly in its stereo equipment-inspired gold models. Charismatic, sleek, and gleefully excessive, the new limited edition Vieren Gold Sunray is the latest and most complete of the brand’s love letters to the age of Studio 54, combining an opulent all-gold colorway with nuanced, impressively considered visual touches.
While there’s no shortage of rectangular cases in the current watch landscape, the Vieren Gold Sunray’s 18K gold PVD-coated case takes a punchier, more angular approach than many comparable designs. There’s no rounded curves or contouring chamfers to be found here, with Vieren instead relying on the brightness of broad, flat gold surfaces for its visual impact. Measuring in at 27mm-wide by 41.5mm-long, the Gold Sunray is far from overwhelming on the wrist, but its sharp angles and fully polished gold finish work to ensure there’s a wealth of visual presence here. This emphasis on planar surfaces extends to the signed octagonal crown, sacrificing some ease of operation for even more eye-catching brightness on the wrist. Vieren tops this case with a small, round sapphire display caseback – a dead giveaway for the off-the-shelf circular movement within, but engineering a rectangular movement to fit this case is likely beyond the capabilities and budget of this younger boutique brand. Although the Gold Sunray is rated to a subpar 30 meters of water resistance, this is far from a sports watch in any sense of the term.
Vieren keeps the stylistic volume turned up for the Gold Sunray’s semi-skeleton dial. Like the case, everything from the sunburst brushed outer dial surface to the simple polished stick hands is rendered in gold, which gives the dial a serious visual punch but does notably hamper legibility. Vieren looks to mitigate the visibility issues with its two polished solid 18K gold elements – the engraved minutes scale on the outer rehaut, and the inner pointer date ring. Both of these elements are undeniably striking, but neither completely solves the design’s underlying legibility struggles. As a start, the vertical outer rehaut virtually disappears from most natural viewing angles, with the engraved minutes scale only visible when viewed from the side. Likewise, the pointer date display can tend to vanish on the wrist. Only a thin white line on the otherwise unmarked gold date wheel works to indicate the current date, but once the wearer gets past some initial acclimation, this element works reasonably well. With all that said, functionality is far from the point of the Vieren Gold Sunray. This is a watch that revels in the excess of an all-gold display, and on that front this design works brilliantly. There’s a subtle variation of hues between each of the major elements that gives the Gold Sunray a far more complex appearance that one might expect, and the interplay between the sunburst main dial surface and the polished accent rings is genuinely intriguing on the wrist. The restrained array of jewels and gear train elements that shine through the central skeleton dial segment add a splash of variety to the proceedings as well, without giving away the simplicity of the underlying movement.
Vieren powers the Gold Sunray with the ETA 2671 automatic movement. A smaller cousin to the ubiquitous ETA 2824 family, the 2671 offers broadly similar performance to its larger stablemate, including a 44 hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate. During our testing period, this movement averaged out to a respectable, if unspectacular +8 seconds per day in accuracy. While the ETA 2671 is certainly a small canvas to work on, Vieren makes a commendable effort to decorate this movement, with radial Côtes de Genève on the engraved gold rotor above clean linear brushed bridges.
Of course, one of the major components in the Vieren Gold Sunray’s overall visual impact is its case-matching 18K gold PVD-coated bracelet. The seven-link style and fully polished finish make it an ideal showcase for the disco ball-esque reflective style Vieren aims for, but the design does cut corners in a few key respects. Chief among these is the bracelet’s construction. This is actually a single-link bracelet design, with simulated gaps between the links to achieve the multi-link look. While this certainly helps to minimize the potential wear points on the PVD coating, it also means that this bracelet is noticeably stiffer and less flexible than a true multi-link bracelet design. However, this is still a reasonably comfortable watch on the wrist, and the butterfly-style deployant clasp is crisp and secure.
As the bold, playfully maximalist look of the ‘70s takes hold in the broader pop culture landscape, it’s only natural for the watch industry to respond and reinterpret the decade in its own unique way. The limited edition Vieren Gold Sunray is one of the most eye-catching, unapologetically fun examples of this trend to date, combining a high-impact all-gold look with intelligent stylistic details. Only five examples of the Vieren Gold Sunray will be made, and the watch is available now through the brand’s e-commerce platform. MSRP for the Vieren Gold Sunray stands at $5,550 USD as of press time. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.
>Model: Gold Sunray
>Price: $5,550 USD
>Size: 27mm-wide, 9.2mm-thick, 41.5mm lug-to-lug
>When reviewer would personally wear it: As a bold, attention-grabbing Saturday night party piece, or when fully committing to a ‘70s-style look.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Outgoing, fashionable enthusiasts who aren’t afraid of a louder look.
>Best characteristic of watch: Show-stopping gold-on-gold colorway, crisp case lines.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Mediocre legibility, average movement, and simple bracelet for the price.