Hands-On With The Unexpected Vero Workhorse Chrono

The ‘active’ watch genre is gaining momentum. It’s a far more apt description for the types of general tool watches we often talk about, while at the same time encompassing niche activities like diving, flying, or field…ing(?) within it. If you like to get out and do stuff, well, these are watches that would make appropriate companions… whatever that stuff might be. Vero has made a watch that perfectly captures the spirit of an active lifestyle watch, it’s called the Workhorse Chrono, and it’s as fun and practical as it is unpretentious. 

Vero has re-established itself in recent years, taking a more character driven approach to the watches they create. Their Open Water is a refreshing take on the dive watch, and one that has flown a little too far under the radar by my estimation. Seriously, this is a great watch and more people should be talking about it. Read Ed Jelley’s review of the Open Water here. If you’ve been eagerly awaiting a follow up to that watch, you’re in luck, but it may not be what you (or indeed any of us) were expecting.

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The Workhorse is an active lifestyle watch, and it looks like any other piece of gear you’d load up into your bag before a weekend out in the woods, a hike through the hills, or a bike across the park. This is a one-hour chronograph with oversized, plastic pushers hanging off the left hand side of the case. They are clearly designed with usability in mind, and whatever they look like as a result, well, so be it (for the record, they look pretty cool). The earthy colored cases are fit with rubberized bull bars to protect against knocks, and the passthrough strap is a perfect mixture of fabric, leatherette, and velcro. 

The Workhorse is being offered in two variants: the Canyon, and the Backcountry. The Canyon gets a light brown, khaki colored case and strap, while the Backcountry opts for a very on-trend forest green. Both of the colors are achieved via Cerakote , a thin ceramic coating applied to a steel base. This allows for the heft and strength of steel while allowing for some fine tuning of color, as we have here. The case itself measures 44.5mm in diameter and 15.5mm in thickness, with a lug to lug length of 49.5mm. Those might sound a bit scary, but it wears a lot like the Seiko ‘Arnie’ references. It’s much easier to wear than you might expect, and the strap proves a perfect companion to the case.

Two steel crowns are present, one at 9 o’clock to adjust the time, and one at 2 o’clock to adjust the internal bezel. The bezel is marked for each 5 minutes, with no minute hashes between, so it’s more of a general guide than a precise measuring instrument. A series of dots at the edge of the dial itself mark each minute, and they can be tricky to get a quick read on in the Backcountry dial especially. Likewise, the minute totalizer of the chronograph features no minute markings, requiring some eyeballing if you end up somewhere between the 5 minute segments. The whole setup begs to be used, but it doesn’t want you to stress too much over precision, as if it knows you’re not relying on it for anything competitive.  

The result is a clean, refined dial design with nearly no clutter. The inner portion of the dial has a shallow but wide groove cut into it, with the subdials recessed within. It’s a laid back vibe that again seems to acknowledge a use case that invites you to get out at your own pace, and on your own time. It also alleviates any pressure to be constantly checking your timing. It’s the ‘you do you’ activity tracker we all need, and it won’t be bugging us to complete our rings everyday.

The strap at use here is in the early running for my favorite of the year. It’s nylon that makes a single pass through the lugs, and gets a velcro affixed protector that runs the underside, with a leather-ish material reinforced velcro loop at the long end. It’s super comfortable and ties the looks of the watch together beautifully. 

Inside, Vero is using a quartz Miyota 6S21 movement, which feels perfectly at home in this package, and keeps the price well under $500. The Workhorse is available to order now with inventory seemingly ready to ship. Keep an eye out for an upcoming Out Of Office featuring this Vero coming soon. The price is $425 for both the Canyon and the Backcountry. Vero.

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Blake is a Wisconsin native who’s spent the past decade covering the people, products, and brands that make the watch world a little more interesting. Blake enjoys the practical elements that watches bring to everyday life, from modern Seikos to vintage Rolex. He is an avid writer and photographer with a penchant for classic cars, non-fiction literature, and home-built mechanical keyboards.
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