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Robust, sporty and extroverted men’s watches with a touch of military look, that like to attract attention away from the mainstream: this is how you could describe the wristwatches that the Erfurt based watch manufacturer VDB produces. Vintage VDB Diver Watch.
VDB stands for nothing else than Vintage Daily Beater. And that’s the point. Because historical clockworks tick inside the handmade and strictly limited masterpieces.
Contrary to what one might think, VDB is not a centuries-old traditional company with a long history. Everything began in 2008 in a cellar in Erfurt, Germany. This is where founder Stephan Obst first repaired the clocks of friends and relatives. His real profession: bicycle fitter and precision mechanic. Today he is one of the last real and most respected watchmakers in Germany. Finally, the decisive step followed and the idea of designing robust, functional and at the same time high-quality men’s watches with nostalgic flair and military look became reality. Stephan Obst gave up his old profession as a precision mechanic and founded VDB.
The watches were initially produced in the cellar by a small team. After a few years the company moved to a larger manufactory. In the meantime more than half a dozen of the best watchmakers in Germany produce the unique pieces and small series under the leadership of “master” Stephan Obst – and all this completely by hand. Most of the material suppliers come from the Thuringian region. Regionalism is a top priority.
Even if the watches seem to be out of time due to their nostalgic and eccentric appearance as well as the exclusive handmade production (intentional, of course), the interior is high-tech except for the vintage movements. If you think that a small Thuringian manufactory cannot keep up with the world brands in terms of progress, you are wrong. In the past years VDB has attracted attention by several innovations. The Erfurt manufactory invented a special crown protection mechanism. In addition, a watch that withstood the water pressure at a depth of 12000 metres under laboratory conditions. And this without suffering a single damage.
Pilot’s and diver’s watches are mainly produced in the family smithy. The series that VDB produces consist of a maximum of 200 pieces. One series per year – even though the order books are full. Stephan Obst and his employees certainly do not get bored. There is one main reason why the watches are produced so rarely off the shelf: innovations in design and technology are being pushed ahead. Standstill is deadly. Anyone who orders a unique piece receives a watch that is made according to their own personal wishes and requirements. The prices for the individual pieces are correspondingly low.
In the meantime, the vintage watches with their military look have taken their triumphal procession from the cellar in Erfurt out into the big world – all the way to Hollywood. Rammstein singer Till Lindemann (probably the VDB watch in person) wears the Thuringian craftsmanship on his wrist. So does football icon Stefan Effenberg, the rock band Kiss or athletes from all over the world, from professional boxers to bobsleigh drivers. The well-known personalities who wear VDB perfectly match the identity of the manufactory in terms of their success, charisma and ambition.
A clever move in times of social media – because the celebrities are more omnipresent than ever before because of Facebook, Instagram and Co. and like to hold the massive timepieces in front of the camera, whether on holiday, on the red carpet or on talk shows. A strong advertising value that Stephan Obst and his team understood and made use of. Today VDB also delivers watches to Russia, Japan or the USA. However, there is no huge network of dealers like that of the world market leaders. VDB remains a family-owned manufacture with identity and character that has not the ambition to become a multinational corporation. This is perhaps exactly what accounts for the unbroken fascination with nostalgic men’s watches.
And now it gets interesting: is VDB really keeping its ambitious promises and goals? Or is the whole thing more appearance than reality? I want to know more about it. So I tested the Maritime Diver 2019 Polished for you extensively and found out what VDB is all about and whether I would recommend the watch to you. Have fun!
The first impression of the Vintage VDB Diver Watch
I can’t believe my eyes when I take the vintage watch out of its box. There is a simple reason for this: the Maritime Diver is huge, a real hunk. It’s not just the diameter of the dial. The whole case is blast, long and high. Now that’s a man’s watch, not bad! In addition, the shape of the case is not round, but corresponds to a dodecagon. A watch with edges – and this is meant literally! The cool vintage look immediately catches the eye. Somehow the Maritime Diver reminds me of a historical measuring instrument. The black dial is functionally designed, the indices in retro-look stand out. The black diver bezel and yellow minute hand fit to the maritime design. My included leather strap is black. The Maritime Diver 2019 Polished exists only in limited edition, of course. In this case there are exactly 30 pieces. Vintage VDB Diver Watch.
On the wrist, the Maritime Diver reveals its full splendour. Yes, it is very conspicuous, extroverted and yes, it is heavy and big. But somehow that contributes to the fascination that the handmade watch from Erfurt evokes in me. This watch wants to be something special. At first sight it does at least. Whoever might think that the wearing comfort of a Kaventsmann of this class is rather average is wrong! The leather is incredibly soft. So soft that one does not want to take this watch off again. I don’t want to exaggerate, but this leather strap has the highest wearing comfort I have ever had with a watch.
The first impression of the VDB watch is very positive. I am slowly beginning to understand why stars like Rammstein singer Till Lindemann, footballer Stefan Effenberg or the rock band Kiss have fallen in love with these watches. But what are the details that make the Maritime Diver the watch it is at first sight?
There’s the case, for one thing. This is made of stainless steel, 44 millimetres wide, 53 millimetres long and an incredible 20 millimetres high! But don’t worry, the dimensions of the watch never seem too oversized. This is mainly due to the surface which, as the name suggests, is polished, making the watch appear lighter. The case is practically split in two. The lower structure is angular and elongated. Here the lugs of the bracelet are attached. Above it there is the dodecagonal bezel with the dial . Vintage VDB Diver Watch.
The crown is screwed on and has a very attractive size to match the whole watch, which makes it easier to use. In addition, there is also the position at 2 o’clock. Since it does not sit at 3 o’clock like most crowns, the wearing comfort is in my opinion significantly improved. One of several examples of good and functional design. Small details should not be missing even with a VDB. The Maritime Diver has the company crest engraved on the surface of the crown.
The handmade watches from Thuringia have a robust construction. This requires only the best choice of materials. For the protection of the dial only sapphire crystal can be used. This guarantees durability and resistance to external influences. It is noticeable that the glass protrudes slightly above the bezel.
The case back has a special eyecatcher. Anyone can have a view of a partially skeletonized movement, but is such a glass bottom useful to dive 12000 meters deep? Real robustness requires the use of stainless steel. It is slightly roughened. In the middle is a polished, historical diver with fins engraved. I like that very much! If you also want to go to depth with a diving suit, you do not need to have any concerns with the Maritime Diver – even if this watch does not quite reach the deepest point on earth, which VDB have already achieved with another model under laboratory conditions. But 200 metres are also okay for a good diver’s watch.
Even though VDB use modern technologies in its clocks, the company focuses on nostalgic individual pieces for its movements. Each clockwork has its own past and is brought to new life in the VDB clocks. The Maritime Diver uses Swiss ETA 2824-2 movements with automatic winding, which are known for their durability and good quality. Vintage VDB Diver Watch.
The dial – Vintage VDB Diver Watch
The dial is characteristic of VDB in that it only shows the most important functions in a straightforward and easily readable manner. In my opinion, the noble black is exactly the right colour and perfectly matches the design of the bezel and my bracelet. All in all, the dial has a maritime look and is remotely reminiscent of a historical measuring instrument. The indices are all very well recognizable, functional and simple. The numbers 3, 6, 9 and 12 are Arabic, the remaining hour markers are represented by longer, shiny silver lines, which echo the design of the case very nicely. The minute markings are indicated by smaller markings. For perfect readability even in poor visibility, the watchmakers at VDB SuperLuminova have applied luminous material to the hands.
There are no totalizers or a date window. This is also not necessary because this is a diving watch. The hands have a simple shape, the minute hand is yellow. A real eye-catcher in a signal colour. Below 12 o’clock the VDB logo is emblazoned in white, above 6 o’clock the name of the model with red colour accents as well as information about water resistance. The bezel is unidirectional and can be adjusted by microclick. The operation in everyday life has always been perfect. All in all a time span of up to 60 minutes can be stopped. Vintage VDB Diver Watch.
The vintage bracelet presents itself in a matching look. Yes, I was raving about the black leather strap upstairs before, but I really liked it. The bracelet is remarkably thick and adapts to the dimensions of the large case. The pin buckle is made of stainless steel and is in no way inferior to the case in terms of quality. The wearing comfort is very good. The size of the bracelet and the watch do not change this. The leather is very soft, pure luxury and my secret favourite!
My conclusion – Vintage VDB Diver Watch
VDB has not made any empty promises. The Maritime Diver 2019 Polished fulfills all my expectations I had in advance of this watch and often even exceeds them. The Thuringian manufacture has launched a concept that was missing before: handmade men’s watches that are different, that want to stand out. Robust, with rough edges and corners and not softened. Sporty, very noble and of the highest quality. With this idea, Stephan Obst and his employees hit the bull’s eye. And not just with eccentric superstars like Rammstein or Kiss, but with anyone who wants to be special and not have the 08/15 off the rack. I have always experienced the watch as something special in everyday life. Vintage VDB Diver Watch.
Of course, the Maritime Diver 2019 Polished, just like the other models of VDB, is not a watch that everybody likes. But that is not necessary and the watch is not interested in it. In this respect it resembles the famous VDB wearers. Polarising, different and yes, also a little bit nostalgic. Those who appreciate and love this will find their dream watch with the Maritime Diver.
The 30 pieces will be almost sold out in the meantime. Those who are still interested in the vintage men’s watches should have a look at the great designed homepage and at the other models which embody the features of VDB just as much as the Maritime Diver.
Gallery Vintage VDB Diver Watch:
Vintage VDB Diver Watch here:
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