Portland-based Vero Watches has had an interesting arc. It started out very proudly making almost every component of its watches in-house, save for the movement and a few other pieces. Hands, dials, crowns, cases, bracelets—all designed and made right in Portland, Oregon. It wasn’t really about “Made in America” so much as streamlining and being nimble. Making those components onsite allowed the brand, during the initial stages of design, to make minor tweaks to get things just right without having to wait for some facility abroad to send updated samples. The process yielded some exceptionally comfortable, great-looking watches, like the Vero SW. The brand also released a series of vintage-inspired 36mm watches. Soon, though, demand outstripped its production capacity, and starting with 2021’s Open Water diver collection, Vero shifted its production to Switzerland, while keeping assembly and regulation in-house.
Since then, Vero has been doing all sorts of cool things, like a super-affordable, sporty SW-Q quartz collection and the tough-as-nails Workhorse Chronograph. Most recently, the brand has revisited one of its designs from those early years, the 36mm Hand Wound Series. The new Meridian Manual Wind series’ Rally edition carries a number of elements forward from its predecessor (which shared its Rally name) while offering a slightly bigger case and a few other notable changes and improvements.
The case of the Vero Meridian is eminently wearable, with a 38mm diameter and a 9.4mm thickness. As you might expect, along with its 44.5mm lug-to-lug, it wore well on my 7-inch wrist and should do so on all but the largest of wrists. The case is not breaking the mold by any means, but the brushed stepped bezel adds some dimension to the profile, while the polished case sides add a bit of elegance. I’m not sure if that elegance was needed, but I think that on a watch of this size and style, a bit of polishing doesn’t hurt; the watch invites regular use, but the polishing is a reminder that, despite its 100m water resistance and sapphire crystal, it’s not meant for abuse like, say, Vero’s Workhorse chronograph. One of the common pitfalls with thin watches is undersized crowns, but I’m happy to say that Vero has used all the real estate it could in making a crown that is not only right-sized and usable but avoids looking absurd on the watch.
Let’s talk about the bracelet and the strap. First, they’re 18mm, which works well for the watch’s size but may be a problem for some. When I got the watch, it was fitted with the bracelet, which features a built-in Nodex micro-adjust clasp that provides a quick .5″ of adjustment. While the rivet-link bracelet was very comfortable, it wasn’t a fit aesthetically for me. It’s hard to say exactly why, but I think it’s the lack of taper and the polished ends of each link. Those ends form a polished line that, when viewed on the wrist, seems out of place on the watch since the polished case sides aren’t visible when looking directly at the watch. Honestly, I was pretty ho-hum on the watch at that point. Then I swapped in the brown leather strap (easily done with the quick-release pins on both bands) and my entire view of the watch changed. There are some straps paired so perfectly that they make the watch. This is one of those straps. Thin and comfortable, with a unique ridged design, I found it suited the watch so well that I didn’t bother even trying any of my own straps.
For those who recall the original 36mm Hand Wound Rally, this dial is going to be very familiar. It’s got the same creamy color and red and blue rings, conveying a bit of a vintage Americana feel. For the Meridian, though, several updates have been implemented. Gone is the additional white ring that clashed a bit with the main dial and the bright red seconds hand. For hands, the watch relies on blocky batons and a black seconds hand without a counterbalance, which imbues this charmer with a bit of minimalism. The Super-LumiNova in the hands is matched by the lume plots at each hour that trace the red and blue rings.
The layout of the dial may look the same, but everything is closer in and the big, bold numbering that stood out so prominently on the first Rally has been made modest and brought into balance with the rest of the dial. This is a slim sans serif font that’s easy to enjoy and keeps things simple; I’m particularly fond of the open 6 and 9 and the hooked 7. Another objective improvement is the addition of a stepped central portion, adding a bit of depth to the previous version’s rather flat appearance. The Vero Meridian is also available in a bright blue dial the brand calls the “Rambler.”
While Vero may not manufacture its own components anymore, it still assembles the watches and regulates the movements at its Portland workshop. In this case, the movement is a handwound Swiss Sellita SW210-1. Vero has had the movement black rhodium plated with snailing and heat-blued screws. It’s quite the dramatic flourish, but I think it gives this otherwise run-of-the-mill movement a bit of visual pep. The SW210 runs at 28,800 vph with a 42-hour power reserve. By regulating in-house, Vero quotes an accuracy near-COSC of -/+ 5 seconds per day. If that weren’t enough, Vero offers a one of the best warranties in the game: a 10-year, no questions asked. Yes: 10 years, every part of the watch, no matter what.
The Vero Meridian is really about color. It’s a simple balance of colors with great effect, especially the Rally edition reviewed here. This watch isn’t really taking advantage of any trends, though—that’s not something Vero seems to care about. Instead, it’s a durable, wearable, visually pleasing watch without any clear flaws. (While the bracelet wasn’t to my liking, it is still a very good bracelet.) This one is a charmer, plain and simple. The Vero Meridian is priced at $795 USD and is available directly from Vero. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.