Vapaus was founded by brothers Oliver and Rudi Laing with a desire to create a legacy of magnificent timepieces. Their design inspiration is the watches of the 1940-1960s, textured but minimal dials, the classic domed crystals, slim profiles and beautifully engineered movements. Their vision is to modernise the aesthetic using modern materials and movements whilst staying faithful to the inspiration.
The Vorcut collection from Vapaus is inspired by the chronographs of the late 1960s, featuring a mix of dark, brooding sunburst dials and stark matte dials like this gorgeous salmon dial variant I’m showing you today; the Vorcut modernises the bi-compax chronograph.
This variant is labelled as effortlessly cool on the Vapaus website and I totally agree, I understand salmon or pink won’t be for everybody but I think it’s extremely cool. The case is a vintage-inspired 38mm in diameter and a nice 9.55mm thick (excluding that gorgeous box domed sapphire crystal) meaning this watch sits absolutely perfectly on my 7-inch wrists. It measures a compact 44mm lug to lug, make no mistake about it, this is a small watch but in no way does it feel as though the components on the dial are squashed or cluttered.
Just as I was getting into watches I acquired a lot of watches from the mid-1900s and they all had that same distinct feature; the domed acrylic glass. This, of course, uses sapphire crystal but looking at it through the naked eye it screams vintage to me and looks like just like acrylic domed glass on top of the dial. For that reason alone it makes me fall in love with this watch a little more and will do the same for anyone who has a love for vintage watches.
The gorgeous salmon dial has a beautiful matte finish to it and it’s remarkably clean, it’s excellently layered with the salmon sandwiched on top of a softer white contrasting dial. It features two subdials, one at 3 that is the 24-hour subdial for the chronograph feature and the one at 6 is the 60 minute counter, both gently sweep around the dial when the chronograph is clicked into motion. There are beautifully applied blade indices at the 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock and brushed triangular hour markers, all done in fine fashion. The signature syringe Vapaus hands are an excellent contrast to the dial and feature a touch of lume, not enough to brighten a room but enough for a watch of this type. The only other features on the dial are the company logo at 12 and ‘Vorcut’ at 6, meaning you get to admire a whole lot of the matte finish on this dial, helped by the fact they use triangular markers instead of numerals for the hours.
The slim case is finished in a two-tone manner, with the case and lugs being excellently brushed and the bezel is polished to create a fantastic contrast and producing a faithful nod to the 1960s. The finishing for me is way above its price point, no rough edges and even brushing throughout, each watch is hand-assembled in Switzerland using the finest materials and this really shows here. Even round to the chronograph pushers, they are evenly brushed and nicely finished. The proportionally sized main crown is ridged and easy to wind and it features nice signing with the company logo. The case back is solid and features a rather unusual pattern, to the best of my knowledge I cannot find any information on what it is supposed to be so it’s up to you, use your imagination and make it whatever you want.
Powering the watch is the Seiko VK64 a hybrid mecha-quartz chronograph movement. A movement that back in the 1960s a watchmaker would have ripped your arm off for. A movement that combines the best of both worlds into one marvellous movement. A movement that provides the watch with ruthless accuracy, keeps it slim enough to sit pretty on the wrist and is extremely reliable. As mentioned before, Vapaus are looking to create watches with a nod to the past and the VK64 is used for this reason, its chronograph pushers are powered by a complex set of levers, hammers and gears, it is history enhanced for the modern age.
The last thing to note on this watch is the excellent brown french calfskin leather strap accompanying the watch. From the first time it went on my wrist it brought a smile to my face, no skimping of quality here, no stiffness and no faux leather used. Too many times companies make decent watches but then the strap lets them down, not fully committing and taking shortcuts. Not with this one, the brown leather is a perfect combination of its the salmon dial, a true joy on the wrist.
I suspect a lot of people won’t have known the brand Vapaus before this, but sit up and take note because they are producing some excellent and striking pieces. Making bold and colourful watches like this one without dwindling on quality.
- Case diameter: 38mm
- Lug width: 20mm (drilled lugs)
- Lug to lug: 44mm
- Case depth (excluding crystal): 9.55mm
- Crystal: Box Domed Sapphire
- Case material: 316L stainless steel (brushed case and lugs, polished bezel)
- Dial: Salmon (matt)
- Applied indices: brushed blades at 12 and 6, brushed triangular hour markers, with applied colour accents
- Strap: 20mm premium French calf leather racing strap
- Movement: Seiko VK64 mecha-quartz
- Assembled in Switzerland
- Two-year warranty
- Price: £365
Notes from the editor:
I am rarely wowed by an affordable watch, but the moment I spied the salmon Vorcut at the 2019 WatchIt! Watch Fair, it hooked me. The colour is so beautiful in the flesh, and it is subtle enough to not look garish, but striking enough to make a statement.
Plus it’s a solidly built watch, with a great specification and a competitive price tag. More people need to be aware of this little beauty!