Design-forward mechanical watches from new independent brands are not uncommon, but there is a distinct lack of up and comers in the dress watch segment, and this is especially true at the entry level. So, when I heard rumblings of a slightly offbeat new brand based out of Toronto to celebrate Clocks, I had to check it out. Designed by Jess Chow and Sunny Fang, the Viren tries to walk a tightrope, balancing an elegant “minimalist” design with thoughtful touches like a Cerakote-coated case and a quirky leather dial. The model I spent some time with here is the Vieren White Croc, the rectangular cased watch you’ll find, aptly named at first glance. It’s almost trite to point out that rectangular dress watches are in short supply, but the charmingly unusual use of white leather on the dial really caught my eye here.
The leather dial runs the risk of being gimmicky, but it matches the leather strap and ends up pulling the white case watch very concretely in its intent. Most watches choose to be as versatile as possible but the White Croc goes in almost the opposite direction. It’s not “with everything” but it definitely makes a statement when you decide to wear it. It’s clever but divisive, which always makes for some fun.
With a rectangular steel case coated in white Cerakote (ceramic finish), the White Croc is definitely in the unisex zone at 27mm wide, 41.5mm long and 9.2mm thick. If it’s not entirely clear at this point, this is a dress watch so Cerakote prevents scratches and dings, it’s still 30m water resistant so try and keep it dry.
Step at an angle to the back of the case, which actually helps lower the profile. I’m glad designer Sunny Fong considered the thickness and gave it some of these lines, because if the case was a uniform slab it would have looked like brick. 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 generally against small exhibition case backs (especially for no-fuss movements) and while this is the case here, I understand that Wieren is demanding that this is a mechanical watch without any doubt.
The leather dial is framed by an 18k gold chapter ring, which is actually a nice and distinctive touch, but the two elements bring together the specific design I mentioned. I love it but it makes me wonder why not keep the theme and go for white gold? Of course it comes down to the same reason behind the exhibition case back. Vieren, as a new brand, doesn’t want these expensive touches to be so subtle that they get lost in an effort to favor design harmony above all else.
I enjoy the unusual design choice and the leather dial certainly qualifies, but it does limit the usefulness of the quick strap change system. Perhaps the mix and match of the strap colors against the white leather dial makes for some interesting combinations, but it’s named White Croc for a reason. But, then again… is a quick strap change option ever a bad thing? I don’t think so.
Vieren is doing some fresh and interesting things here despite playing in a very competitive market. I would like to see them add more personality in future designs as it is very easy to get lost in the crowd. This watch is a solid effort and I will definitely be keeping an eye on how the brand grows and develops. The Vieren White Croc is a well-made, comfortable and creative watch priced at $2,250. You can learn more here vieren.co.