An Excellent Example of Independent Swiss Watchmaking
Microbrands have gained both marketshare and, in many cases, critical acclaim. For the traditionalist, the incursion of conglomerate-free affordable watches is something of an enigma- on one hand, new brands are making interesting styles and movement combinations incredibly affordable, but on the other, these brands often lack the horological pedigree and traditionalism that many value in a watch.
Votum as a brand has an interesting legacy that spans the course of over five decades, and its new iteration promises to retain the personality and quality the brand has historically been known for. When they reached out to me approximately two months ago about reviewing one of their pieces, I was eager to accept.
Votum Watches, in its current form, is an example of the best of what Microbrands have to offer their wearers. The piece I have here – the New Classic – is Swiss-made and powered by an ETA automatic. A true Swiss-made watch through and through, and it’s available to consumers at affordable prices that start well-below four-figures.
Disclaimer: this New Classic was provided at no-cost for the purposes of this review.
Votum New Classic Technical Specifications
- Model Number: RB.40.445.20.11
- MSRP: $700
- Case Diameter: 41.5mm
- Alternate Models: Several
- Movement: Automatic, ETA 2824-2
- Complications: Date display
- Power Reserve: Approximately 40 hours
- Water Resistance: 100m / 330ft
- Crystal Material: Sapphire
Swiss-Made Everyday Style
There’s no shortage of wrist time available for a casual everyday wear watch, especially when said watch is tastefully styled and made to last. The New Classic is one such watch, where owners will not only enjoy years/decades of reliable life, but also a classic aesthetic that will still look good many years from now.
The New Classic arrived wearing a stainless steel bracelet, but also included is a deep charcoal grey strap. The bracelet is fine, but the strap is not only great looking but comfortable as well. The swap took place after a couple of weeks, with the bracelet now safely tucked away. The grey and white-accented leather matches the dial perfectly, helping the case act as a steel frame that empowers the textured grey dial to stand out and look its best.
The inner rings and hour markers are raised and subtly catch light, turning the light into tasteful accents that enhance the depth of the dial. Dots of lume encircle the markers, and a strip of lume resides on the hour and minute hands.
Swiss Build Quality, Too
Classic good-looks only go so far, and if the watch itself is flimsy and poorly made, looks won’t save it from being second-rate. Of course, no such concern exists with the Votum. The build quality is absolutely what you would expect from an entry-level luxury Swiss brand, on par with what you see from the Swatch brands like Hamilton and Tissot.
That’s a lofty claim, as if concessions are made, it’s typically in the build that I see them. Not from afar, of course, but up close.
Unsure what I mean? Have a look at this macro shot of the dial, hands, and indices. What do you notice (note: the small specs of dust are on the outside of the watch)? For me, I see: indices that are properly aligned to their designated time; lume that is aligned much the same; no chips or specks in the finish or hands; uniform spacing of applied elements… and so on.
The same is true of not just the dial, but the rest of the watch as well. Engraved pieces, including the crown, are done with care.
The lines are smooth and even- time is being put into the New Classic by someone with skill.
What I see when I dive into it is a well-made watch with few, if any, visible flaws. What few imperfections do exist are so small that you’d need a macro lens just to find them… and even then, barely so.
Let’s Elaborate on the ETA Automatic
The ETA 2824-2 is one of the most widely used Swiss automatics in the horological world and has been in continuous production since 1982. Save for a date complication, the 2824-2 is simple and robust. Wearers will enjoy a 40-hour power reserve and dependability that will see the movements lifetime extend into the decades to come (assuming regular servicing).
The base 2824-2 is accurate to within +/- 12 seconds per day, but the New Classic doesn’t use the base movement- it uses an enhanced elabore variation that is more adjustable and typically sees accuracy in the +/- 7 second per day range. It beats at 28,800bph which almost gives the seconds hand that sweeping effect that watch nerds love.
All told, the ETA 2824-2 is always a good choice for a watch like this and at this price point.
The exhibition caseback shows off the moderately decorated movement, and like the dial, it’s just as clean. Aside from adding their logo and some copy (in raised lettering), the movement is otherwise as it would have come from the factory… and that’s not a bad thing.
Who is Votum?
The brand first came to be in 1967, incorporating in Biel, Switzerland. They were an adventurous brand, known for making daring design and functionality choices. In the 70s they relocated to Hamburg, Germany, and really pushed the envelope in terms of design and ability.
Eventually, the brand dialed back operations, and like so many others, became dormant. In 2015, the name was revived by François Zahnd, owner of a watch manufacturing company, and Rolf Bodmer, a talented graphic designer. The byproduct of their collaboration, seen here in the New Classic, is every bit the watch that fans of the legacy brand would expect.
Affordable, Well Made, & Good Looking: There’s a Lot to Like About the Votum New Classic
In many ways, Votum exemplifies the spirit that WYCA sought to find when it was born. There’s something interesting about Votum as a brand and their story; something engaging about the visionaries that now lead it; something special in its mission and position in the market. Personally, I appreciate the work that goes into creating a brand and a watch people will cherish and feel good about when investing in.
For those reasons, and the others that I’ve shared already, the Votum New Classic is the next addition to the our picks section of the site, which seeks to recognize great watches from brands of all types that offer their wearers a genuinely great ownership experience… at a reasonable price.
Get yours: here.