Design-forward mechanical watches from newer independent brands aren’t uncommon, but there is a distinct lack of up and comers in the dress watch segment and this holds especially true at the entry level. So, when I do hear rumblings of a new brand doing something a little offbeat like Toronto-based Vieren watches, I am compelled to check it out. Created by Jess Chow and Sunny Fong, Vieren seeks to walk a tightrope by balancing sleek “minimalist” design with thoughtful touches like a Cerakote-coated case and quirky leather dial outfitted with a solidly reliable mechanical movement. The model I spent some time with here is the Vieren White Croc, a rectangular cased watch that you’ll find is rather aptly named after an initial glance. It’s almost trite to point out that rectangular dress watches are in no short supply but the charmingly eccentric use of white leather on the dial is really what grabbed my attention here.
A leather dial could run the risk of being gimmicky but having it match with the leather strap and the white case ends up pulling the watch together in a way that is very specific in its intent. So many watches opt to be as versatile as possible but the White Croc almost goes in the opposite direction. It doesn’t “go with everything” but it sure makes a statement when you do decide to wear it. It’s smart but divisive which always makes for some fun.
With a rectangular steel case coated in white Cerakote (a ceramic finish), the White Croc measures 27mm wide, 41.5mm tall, and 9.2mm thick which is precisely in the unisex zone. If it’s not entirely clear at this point, this is a dress watch so while the Cerakote will prevent scratches and dings, it’s still got 30m of water resistance so try and keep it dry.
The case steps down at an angle on the back which actually does help slim down the profile. I’m glad designer Sunny Fong took thickness into account and gave it some of these lines as it would risk looking brickish if the case was a uniform slab. The automatic ETA-2671 movement operates at 28,800 vph with a 44-hour power reserve and is visible through a circular exhibition window on the case back. I’m typically against smaller exhibition case backs (especially for no-fuss movements) and while that indeed remains the case here, I do understand that Vieren wants to leave no question that this is a mechanical watch.
The leather dial is framed by an 18k gold chapter ring which is actually a very nice and distinctive touch though the two things together do make for that specific design that I mentioned could be a bit divisive. I do like it but it makes me wonder as to why not keep to the theme and opt for white gold? Of course this likely comes down to the same reasoning behind having an exhibition case back. Vieren, as a new brand, does not want to have these costly touches be so subtle as to be lost in an attempt to favor design cohesion above all else.
I enjoy an unusual design choice and a leather dial certainly qualifies though it may limit the usefulness of the quick strap change system. Perhaps a mix and match of strap colors against the white leather dial would make for some interesting combinations but it’s named White Croc for a reason. But, then again…has a quick strap change option ever been a bad thing? I don’t think so.
Vieren is doing some fresh and interesting things here even though they are playing in a very competitive market. I’d love to see them add even more personality into future designs since it can be very easy to get lost in the crowd. This watch is a solid effort and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on how the brand grows and develops. The Vieren White Croc is a well made, comfortable, and creative watch that is priced at $2,250. You can learn more at vieren.co.