Review: Vero Open Water Dive Watch

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The Open Water is a bit of a clean slate for Portland-based Vero Watches. A refresh of the brand that aligns more with what their creators are into. At its core, the Open Water is a dive watch — which just happens to make a great base for a watch fit for adventure. The Open Water is designed for activity (on land or in the water), sports, adventure, and being out in the natural world. Named after two locales, the Open Water comes in two versions: the Crown Point and the North Coast. Both watches make excellent use of color, albeit in a minimal way. Whether it’s the unique deep teal dial of the Crown Point, or the small pops of bright blue on the foggy gray North Coast, the subtle approach really adds to the overall design.

Vero themselves switched up the way that they make watches, too. All of their previous models (including the unique SW I reviewed some time back) are now resting on a page on their website where you can see them, but not place an order. Instead of doing the machining of their cases and components in house, they’ve moved that over to Switzerland. They still design, assemble, regulate, and inspect their watches in the USA. 

Vero is also pushing their industry-leading 10-year warranty against any damage to the watch. It’s a pretty drastic turn from how they used to operate. After speaking with Chris at Vero, it sounds like they made the right move. By focusing on design and feel at Vero, letting their Swiss-based manufacturer take care of the nitty gritty machining, and then assembling and regulating back in house at Vero, they get the best of both worlds. The end result is an original and modern dive watch that lays a sturdy foundation for the rest of their soft relaunch and new direction. 

A lot of dive watch designs lean pretty hard into the vintage aesthetic. It’s refreshing to see something that’s not loaded with aged lume, a huge domed crystal, and a basic case shape. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good vintage reissue, but just not all the time. The Open Water Crown Point features a mid-sized case with hard angles, a minimal dial design, and a slick DLC-coated dive bezel. Let’s dig into this modern take on a dive watch from the Portland-based brand.

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$810

Review: Vero Open Water Dive Watch

Case
Stainless Steel
Movement
Sellita SW-200-1
Dial
Matte Blue
Lume
Super-Luminova
Lens
Sapphire
Strap
Matte steel bracelet
Water Resistance
200M
Dimensions
40x47mm
Thickness
11mm
Lug Width
20mm
Crown
Screw In
Warranty
Yes
Price
$810

Case

The case on the Open Water measures in at a very reasonable 40mm wide with a lug-to-lug of 47mm, and a thickness of 11mm. Overall, I’d call the dimensions a happy medium — not too big and not too small. Just right, if you will. For a watch that’s designed to be worn during activity, it should stay out of the way, and the gentle contouring and careful attention to dimensions achieves that goal. The case features a modern shape and design, making excellent use of angles and curves. From the top down, you’ll notice the lugs with their slanted, angular ends. On the right side of the case, crown guards flank the crown, each with a semi-circular shape that helps tie into the bold and wide unidirectional bezel. The bezel itself is treated with DLC to achieve a black appearance, and it really pops against the matte 316L steel used for the base case material. 

On the bezel, a set of hash marks and numerals are engraved into the surface and filled with white paint. Lume does make a sneaky appearance in the bezel, with the first 15 minutes’ double hash marks glowing in the dark, along with the smaller hashmark towards the center of the dial for every other five minute numeral. Using the bezel is an absolute dream. It rotates in a single direction with 60 clicks, each having a firm, yet springy action with a clear stopping point. While spending time with the Open Water, I found myself spinning it around just for fun. The ridges on the side are easy to grip without being too sharp or aggressive. 

While I didn’t take the watch into the water myself, I have no doubt that it would be as easy to operate when wet as it is on dry land. To set the time, you’ll have the pleasure of using the knurled black crown that resides at 3 o’clock. It’s especially easy to grip and it’s protected completely by crown guards on either side.

Flip the watch onto its side and you’ll get a good look at the profile of the case. The first thing that jumps out to me is the flat sapphire crystal and how seamlessly it blends in with the gently domed bezel. In a modern dive watch, I can really get behind the use of a flat sapphire. It just adds that extra something to the look and keeps the entire watch looking slim and sleek. 

The mid case is straight in the center. On the side with the crown guards, there are some interesting angles going on. The guards start wide at the ends and pinch inwards towards the crown, making it easy to get at. While the mid case doesn’t have that same awesome curve as the Vero SW of days past, the lugs do retain a degree of that wrist-hugging contour. The case back does stick out a solid 1.5-2mm behind the mid case, which does disappear when the watch is on your wrist, so it doesn’t contribute to the overall visual thickness of the watch while on a bracelet, but it does add an extra little bump on a nato. On wrist, the overall 11mm thickness (thinness) rests solidly in comfortable territory.

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Dial & Hands

One of my favorite parts about the Open Water is the dial colors offered. The model we’re talking about today is called the “Crown Point” and sports a deep teal dial, while the “North Coast” is a foggy matte gray. Teal dials aren’t all that common (until relatively recently), and seeing one on a modern dive watch is a refreshing break from your standard color offerings. The finish is matte, and the color changes slightly depending on the light. Sometimes it reads near-black, other times it’s obviously teal. No matter which way the light is shining on it, I really like the color. 

The dial itself is an exercise in restraint. At 12, you’ll find two rectangular applied indices. For 3, 6, and 9, elongated rectangles are present, while shorter, blockier rectangles join the party for the hours in between. The designers at Vero moved all of the business out to the bezel, leaving the dial clean and minimal in appearance. There’s no chapter ring, no rehaut, and very minimal text. The brand’s text-based logo resides just below 12, with the word “AUTOMATIC” balancing it out just above six. It’s very clearly legible at a glance, even more so thanks to the healthy hit of SuperLuminova on all of the applied indices. 

To tell the time, a set of blocky rectangular hands point to the hours and minutes, while a slim gray hand is driven around the dial to show the seconds. The hour and minute hands are black, which stand out just enough from the dial. Each is tipped with a plot of lume that looks bright white when the lights are on, and glows a nice green when they’re out. The gray seconds hand has a unique shape, tapering gently from the base to tip on either end. A long counterbalance opposes the longer lume-tipped side. Just like the rest of the dial, the hands are quite legible. They’re definitely modern and match the aesthetic of the watch.

Movement

Inside the Open Water, you’ll find a Swiss-made Sellita SW-200-1 automatic movement. The movement contains 26 jewels that keep everything running smoothly. It’s similar in design and construction to the ETA 2824-2, and similarly reliable and robust. When fully wound, the SW-200-1 will run for 38 hours. Setting the time is easy and precise, thanks to the hacking seconds hand and ability to hand wind the watch should you find it out of power between wearings. As far as movement choices go, the Sellita is a good fit for the Open Water.

Strap & Wearability

To keep the Open Water on your wrist, you’ve got two options from the factory — a custom, fully articulated bracelet, or a nylon nato strap. Let’s get the nato out of the way first. There’s not too much to say other than that I like the watch on a nylon strap. It makes the watch feel light and easy to wear and looks great while doing so. The matte stainless steel bracelet is a much more interesting way to rock the Open Water. It has flat links that are free to rotate at every pivot point. The solid end links give the bracelet an integrated look, since they fit so well within the lugs. 

A lot of brands don’t really nail the end links, and I’m glad that Vero did. Some of them look cheap, don’t match the aesthetic of the rest of the watch, or simply don’t fit right. It’s clear that the designers at Vero took their time getting these right because the resulting effect is sleek and nearly seamless. Keeping the bracelet closed is a push in clasp with a fold over security buckle. The clasp is a little hard to open and close, and it doesn’t feel the best when in use. It could have to do with the matte finished pieces causing some harsh friction. It’s not a deal breaker, but it would be better if it was a little easier to open and a little smoother in use. Dialing in your fit is easy, thanks to the three micro-adjust holes in the clasp.

On the wrist, the Open Water is easy-wearing thanks to the 11mm thickness and the downward curvature of the lugs. It’s flat and comfortable, staying out of the way during any activity. As intended, the design of the crown guards keeps them out of the way of your bending wrist. Since the bracelet’s links are fully articulated, they conform to the curvature of your wrist with ease. When speaking with Chris at Vero, this watch was designed to stay out of the way during activity and when wearing the watch it’s safe to say that they achieved this goal. While spending my time with the watch, I found it to be comfortable and slim.

Conclusion

Something about the mix of the medium sized case, snappy black bezel, deep teal dial, and minimal/modern design of the Open Water really just works. Vero wanted a solid foundation for the overhaul of their brand, and the Open Water makes an excellent cornerstone for the new collections to come. It might sound silly, but this is a watch that I felt cool while wearing. I tend to gravitate towards a black tee and jeans, and a black over shirt of some sort, and the matte steel watch with the deep teal dial and black bezel added just a small pop of color without being over the top. If you’ve been looking for a watch with a colored dial, but want to keep it subdued, the “Crown Point” Open Water is worth considering. 

Starting at $810 on a nato strap and going up to $875 for a steel bracelet, I believe the watch is appropriately priced. While they’re no longer made entirely in the USA, the case and components are machined in Switzerland, and then regulated and assembled in the US under Vero’s very own roof. Vero’s previous watches had a higher price tag, and it’s nice to see that they were able to bring them down (by as much as half) into a realm that’s much more widely accessible without compromising quality. All of Vero’s watches are backed by a 10-year, no questions asked guarantee. If you find your watch damaged, it’s nice to know that they’ve got your back. I’m excited to see where the brand is headed with their next model. Rumor has it that there’s some really wild stuff in the works. VERO

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Ed is a Long Island-based writer and photographer with an affinity for watches, fountain pens, EDC gear, and a great cup of coffee. He’s always looking for the best gear for the job—whether it be new watch, pen, flashlight, knife, or wallet. Ed enjoys writing because it’s an awesome (and fulfilling) way to interact with those who share the same interests.
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