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Evolving a military spec watch - The Vario 1945 D12

In 2023 watches are much different than before, they are used as a reminder of old age in a digital era but really, in the past, they were pieces made to perform, to help and resist the adversities of a battlefield. The best way to compare military spec watches is not only to look at materials available at that time but also the environments where these events took place. For example, WWI was fought mainly in trenches, from the uniform to the equipment, everything was dedicated to resist moisture, mud and of course easy of use, but nothing could predict what the evolution on how a modern war would be. WWII was miles ahead of the first one in terms of technology, not only was fought outside trenches and direct combat, but also brought air/sea modern artillery machines with the use of airplanes, ships, tanks, and submarines.

You can easily imagine that the more delicate trench officer watch from the beginning of the 20th century might felt bit…obsolete. First legibility was upgraded, a simpler and less ornamented dial was key, and the inclusion of long-lasting luminescent material was added, then we also have an evolution of the straps, it was still far from the nato nylon that we all know and love, but there was experimentation with more heavy duty leather materials. The cases and water resistance were also upgraded, long gone are those wired lugs in favor of welded ones, and of course all movement had to be chronometer rated with hacking seconds, ready to set time with precision. The MOD of the British government was the one who issued the request in order to supply their military personnel, due to the high quantity of pieces demanded, there were 12 companies who answered this call:Buren, Cyma, Eterna, Grana, Jaeger Le-Coultre, Lemania, Longines, IWC, Omega, Record, Timor and Vertex. This review we will look into the Vario 1945 tribute to the D-12, a tribute to these lovely watches which have become quite collectible and hard to find. The Vario 1945 comes in different shades, and we were lucky to have the green version, we know that the originals were only produced in black, but it doesn’t feel an inch out of place. Let’s begin.

The Specifications

Paying tribute to a watch designed in the 40s, the Vario 1945 makes a great job to give it a modern design language, the watch comes in a modern 37mm case but what I love about this version is the good lug to lug of 45mm, it fits my wrist perfectly but also with a thinness of 10.5mm, the vintage flare is incredible. The dial is a textured green that looks black most of the time, it matches the aged lume nicely giving the dial a more interesting look, let us remember that these watches were made to match strict specifications, so they are as austere as possible. The sub seconds is centered at 6 breaking the dial with a rail track and matching the minute one, the lume plots contrast nicely against the white markers. Moving to the case there is a lot of great work from Vario, the case is not complex in shape, but it has a mixture of polish finishing in the bezel with a brushed mid case including beveled lugs, everything looks in place and well made. The Miyota 82s5 automatic movement is reliable and ready to work which is exactly what its needed, it keeps the price down but the reliability up, a great choice in my opinion.

On the wrist

Thin watches are amazing, the size can be up to 44 mm but when the thickness is under 11mm like the 1945 from Vario, wearability is assured, anyone can pull a Panerai but it is the height that really matters. The transitions from the mid case to the bezel are another level in terms of quality, it does look like Vario is stepping up the game, one type of finishing doesn’t always excite us enthusiast, but when we see those polished bezels, we start smiling. The lume is another side that Vario worked really hard for the 1945, there are 2 types of lume (C3/BGW9), making it easier to separate at a quick glance the numerals from the hands. If we go back to the military green color of the dial, you will think that is hard to pair with a variety of straps, but the reality is that this green shade is a strap monster, a more casual look with a beige strap or a military 2-piece green also works well. Another details that I like is that the crown is filled with lume and at 4PM, it doesn’t intrude the wrist at any moment, it’s comfortable making me think that it should be the standard position for many other watches.


The 1945 is a great tribute to the military history of watches, it robust and good looking, it does remind you of a time when mechanical precision was key to perform. Vario has been making great pieces where an era is faithfully represented, from WWI to WWII, I encourage the reader to check them out. I believe that the charm of the 1945 is that you feel that is something you can wear in all situations, from sporty to classy. My favorite part of the watch are its dimensions, I never thought a 37mm watch could be so charming, I love big pieces, tool watches but this one falls into a category of its own, a true vintage appeal object aimed to be enjoyed every day.

Technical Specifications

Case diameter: 37mm Case thickness: 10.5mm Crystal: Sapphire with inner AR applied Lug width: 18mm Lug to lug: 45mm Lume: C3/BGW9 Lume Case Material: 316L stainless steel Crown: Screw-down crown Movement: Miyota 82s5 automatic gilt movement (Côtes de Genève) with hand-winding and hacking seconds. 21 jewels 21.6kpbh more than 40 hours power reserve Water resistance: 10 atm

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