Vaer Gets Funky with the R1 USA Racing Chronograph

The Venice based and independently owned watch brand, Vaer, has been a busy one since the middle of last year. They’ve expanded their catalog by launching a series of new collections and adding a couple of brand new models while still maintaining their foundational ethos of designing well-made, vintage-inspired watches that, price tag wise, are as approachable as you can get. Observing the brand from afar, it feels that they’ve carved a space for themselves into more of a mainstream market, offering up a collection of affordable watches that resemble popular vintage design and appealing to those who just need one good looking watch that’ll get them through a day at the office, as well as a weekend filled with outdoor activity. The R1 USA Chronograph, one of Vaer’s new releases, still feels like, well, a Vaer. It has all the characteristics that’ll make it another popular offering from the brand, but there’s something most certainly refreshing about the R1 Chronograph. It feels like Vaer strayed away from the classic recipe book, experimented with their own selection of ingredients, and the end product is a watch that’s more for the deep cut watch enthusiast.

The R1 USA Chronograph has a lot going on and it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what makes it distinct. The case is a perfect example. The R1 Chronograph resembles a Monnin style case, which is a favorite of mine that’s seen on the likes of a CWC Royal Navy Diver. There are also hints of the pillow-like case of an Omega Flightmaster. But the R1 separates itself from that design in a couple of ways. The fixed steel bezel is absent from any rotating bezel or tachymeter display. Instead, there’s a fine radial brushing that follows the narrow sides of the bezel and the widening at the top and bottom. The case flares out at its sides and once again towards the lugs. The case finish here trades the brushing on the bezel for a polished finish which adds a dynamic element to the concave architecture of the lugs.


The R1 USA Chronograph comes in two different case sizes; 38mm and 42mm. The numbers might be a bit deceiving given the style of the case. I say that because it seems like there’s a lot more case real-estate in relation to the dial size, which might lend the R1 Chronograph to wear slightly smaller on the wrist. The pushers are nestled into the case, hiding the stems and giving the pushers a lower profile, which is yet another design decision that I can get on board with. Traditionally at three o’clock, the R1 Chronograph sports a big, unsigned screwdown crown.

Currently there are three different dial colors to choose from – black, navy, and cream. The cream dial is the funky one of the bunch that has the most vintage vibe of the three. That said, all will feel vintage given the bubble sapphire crystal hovering above the dial. The R1 USA Chronograph has three subdials located at three, six, and nine. Each has their own distinct display. On the cream dial variant, the R1 Chronograph displays an all black 24-hour subdial with white numerals, a running small seconds display color matching the dial, and a chrono minute counter subdial split down the middle in red and black.

The dial has a black minute track bordering the dial with white hashmarks accompanied by corresponding numerals that sneak into the rehaut. The R1 USA Chronograph has applied markers and uses a syringe-style handset for the main time. The choices of color throughout the dial provide a nice contrast against the cream dial and are the reason for the funky aesthetic. To top it all off with even more funk, the chrono center seconds hand uses a faded yellow tone.

The R1 Chronograph uses a meca-quartz Hattori VK-63 movement. The main time is powered by the tuning fork type quartz structure of the movement, while the chronograph uses the mechanical portion to give the pleasing sweep of the chrono seconds hand and a true mechanical chrono reset. Expect solid quartz accuracy here coming in at +/-20 seconds per month which equates to less than a +/- 1 second per day. The R1 USA Chronograph delivers with a Tropic strap and your choice of a secondary custom strap which include a single pass strap, Horween leather, and a stainless steel jubilee bracelet equipped with a dive clasp and four micro-adjustments.

I can attest to my point about Vaer appealing more to the mainstream market from my own personal experiences. My brother, who has slowly become a watch enthusiast over the past few years (no thanks to me) gravitated towards Vaer from the get and I clearly remember him already knowing the brand while getting into the watches. Fast forward to this release, I think I’ve found a Vaer that I gravitate towards. The R1 USA Chronograph has its own thing going for it. The case design is different and I can really get behind the 38mm case sizing. The cream dial has that 70s vintage flare and the out-of-leftfield use of yellow for the seconds hand follows that oddball (in a good way) theme. And I’ll give bonus points for the bubble sapphire crystal, 100 meters of water resistance, and a Seiko made meca-quartz movement.

The 38mm and 42mm Vaer R1 USA Racing Chronograph is currently available for pre-order starting at $399 with a tropic strap and a khaki single pass / quick release strap. If you choose to go with the stainless steel bracelet, then that’ll run you $499. The decision to go with a Horween leather strap will bring you in slightly under at $489. Vaer

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Thomas is a budding writer and an avid photographer by way of San Diego, California. From his local surf break to mountain peaks and occasionally traveling to destinations off the beaten path, he is always searching for his next adventure, with a watch on wrist, and a camera in hand. Thomas is a watch enthusiast through and through; having a strong passion for their breadth of design, historical connection, and the stories that lie within each timepiece.