World War One was a pivotal moment for watchmaking as it marked the beginning of the transition from pocket watch, to wristwatch – and the rise of the mass market.
Previously wristwatches were largely seen as ladies items by the Swiss, US and English watchmaking factories but the trench warfare of 1914-18 changed that mindset. Why? Well a soldier who wore a pocket watch would soon find it getting very dirty and wet most likely, thus filling the keywind mechanism with muck and then ruining the movement. The other factor was sniper targeting, and getting a fob watch out to check the time on a moonlit night or sunny day, was an invitation for a sniper to take aim at that tempting flash of silver or gold.
The solution was a small watch you could wear under your sleeve to protect it from the worst of the weather, mud and shrapnel flying about.
To help soldiers see in the dark original trench watches were marked with radioactive paint, which probably led to the early deaths of many watch factory staff and repairers. Todfay’s Vario range have lume applied to the numbers but no radium, perfectly safe. The style of the Vario is spot-on, a true homage to the watches that evolved during the Great War. With a sapphire crystal and a range of straps, these are ultra modern timekeepers as well.
Inside the case there’s a Japanese automatic movement, and the watch case features solid loop type lugs, so the strap threads through – no push pins. You can have a default soldier and rifle logo on the caseback, or have it engraved with a special message, up to 40 characters, English language only.
They look the business and the Kickstarter funding is at £122,000, so well over target. The Vario watches start at £193 and delivery is expected in May 2021. Vario say they are looking at budget quartz edition next year as well, if enough people register their interest.