Clean, simple and functional; These design principles have always been the requirements for typical German design and are particularly important in watch-design. VANDAAG adapted nicely on them with their Primus collection, without trying to sell it as “Bauhaus watch”, which I highly appreciate and which I will explain in more detail later in this article. The Primus is inconspicuous at first glances and deserves a second look: The details and composition of the organic design language on this watch are very convincing. With that said, let’s take a closer look at the Primus.
Organically shaped down to the last detail
One thing I give VANDAAG credit for is that they do not misuse the famous Bauhaus school of Architecure and Design for marketing like so many other microbrands; Creating a minimalistic watch design does not mean that the design follows Bauhaus-design principles and in no case does it justify a manufacturer to call his watches after it. Of course “less is more” and “form follows function” are famous quotes that stand for two of the main principles of the Bauhaus teaching like no other, but it’s very often misinterpreted when it comes to plain and minimalistic watches. Furthermore the “Bauhaus watch” is a myth anyways. Let me show you how I’d interpret the VANDAAG Primus design:
VANDAAG rather created a modern proportioned watch with the appeal and design characteristics of a plain vintage dress watch. The design is minimalistic, but not as much as you might think: Everything is organically shaped; Domed sapphire crystal, rounded bezel with only a slim straight edge sitting on a tapered case, which yet again has a fine indentation on both sides that go from one lug to another.
This lets the watch with a height of 10.8 mm appear flat and adapted to the wrist. Its size of 40 mm in diameter wears rather like a 39 mm watch because of the rounded bezel and case shape, but still has a contemporary size. The shiny ceramic dial with its plain Arabic numbers is arched down to the sides and has small silver dots as additional hour markers. All of these details can be only seen when you take a closer look on the Primus, sometimes “more is more”, but only if it’s done very finely and delicately like at the Primus Automatic.
Another important and yet so simple detail is the round date window, while most minimalist watches have an angular date window that breaks with the organic shapes of the watch designs. The leaf shaped hands follow the slight curvature of the dial and end up perfectly with the minute markers on the dial, which creates a very harmonic and balanced reading experience. A very small but fine detail is the closed hands-stack; At most watches you can see a hole in the secondhand, where the pin on which all hands are fixed comes through. All these fine details make the Primus such a special watch for a very reasonable price of only 299€ (incl. 19% VAT).
Through the scratch-resistant sapphire crystal caseback you can take a look on the reliable and widely used Japanese Miyota 821A Automatic movement. I really like that they have engraved the north-german City Oldenburg where VANDAAG is based on the rotor.
Supple leather strap
The Achilles heel of many microbrands is the strap or bracelet, but we as watch strap experts immediately noticed the nice leather strap from the German city of Stuttgart that comes with the Primus. It is nicely soft, has a subtle matte surface and the typical nice smell of genuine leather when you take the watch out of its box already. With the minimal and versatile design of the watch it suits all kind of watch straps and can thus quickly change its appearance to elegant or sporty casual. Furthermore it features quick-release spring bars, which makes it easy to swap for a WB Original strap for example.
With its buckle comes the only downside that I can find on this watch, but don’t worry, the quality and finish of it is great as well, it’s about its shape only: The whole watch and every detail is kept in organic shapes and even though the buckle is formed in a curved shape adapted to the wrist, it has a quite rectangular shape like a classic if you look at it from above and from the side. This stands in contrast to the watch, but it is not necessarily influencing it, as it is on the other side of your wrist. The buckle could be smaller and rounder to adapt the design of the watch more.
VANDAAG Primus – Strap Guide
When we take a watch for review that is versatile, we can’t resist to try it on a variety of our straps and the VANDAAG Primus is a real “strap monster”. Especially during these hot summer days a Perlon- or colorful adjustable single-pass NATO watch strap are perfect and the orange Perlon makes it the perfect summer watch. Besides the great black and dark- or green-brown leather straps that can come with the watch a colorful vintage leather strap can be a great alternative to make the Primus a bit more casual. If you’re a fan of stainless-steel bracelets then a mesh milanaise bracelet is a classy choice for you.
- Movement: Automatic Miyota 821A
- Diameter: 40.0mm
- Lug to lug: 46.0mm
- Height: 10.8mm
- Glass: Scratch-resistant sapphire glass, 2-fold anti-reflection coating
- Waterproof: 50m
- Limitation: 999 pieces (individual serial number)
- Price: 299€ (incl. 19% VAT)