The late 1950s is our favourite era of dress watch design. In embarking to capture the essence of this period of horology we carefully studied both the design aesthetic and spirit of the times — in doing so we became increasingly aware of what is so appealing about these halcyon timepieces.
Dial sizes were significantly smaller in the 1950s. Viewed through today's eyes the smaller, subtly textured dials of the period are at odds with the ostentatious, oversized proportions of modern dress watches.
After considerable experimentation we arrived at a case diameter of 38mm for the Veli. This is smaller than modern counterparts which are typically sized between 42-46mm; and slightly larger than 1950s wrist-watches which ranged from 32-35mm. By gently expanding on the proportions of our favoured era, without straying into modern trends, the Veli is imbued with a classic quality.
Domed crystals adorn all of our favoured 1950s dress watches. The gentle distortions introduced by the curved glass, lend an ephemeral character to the dial and hand sets. Each glance feels a little different — fleeting, somehow magical.
The domes of 1950s watches were made from acrylic, which although visually appealing, sadly, does scratch and mar. We therefore elected to use a high-arched sapphire crystal to crown the Veli. The Veli's crystal, at its apex, stands 2.80mm above the case, curving smoothly across its surface. Very few watches (and none competing at the Veli's price point) feature high-arched sapphire. The inferior hardened K1 crystal / plexiglass is the standard choice for a domed design, or a simple flat sapphire for a typical modern watch.
Photograph by Le Petit Poussoir.
Further, the slimness of the cases of 1950s watches are very appealing, their svelte proportions are especially pleasing when juxtaposed against the elevation of the crystal, exceptionally comfortable worn under a shirt cuff, and gorgeous viewed in profile.
The case of the Veli is stunningly slim, at just 6.85mm. We were able to achieve such a slim case by choosing a Swiss hand-wound movement rather than an automatic.
The choice of a hand-wound mechanical movement conferred the following benefits upon the Veli:
1. 1950s Style - the gently modernised 1950s aesthetic of the watch is more in sympathy with a hand-wound movement than an automatic.
2. Ultra-Slim - hand-wound movements do not have a rotor, meaning that they tend to be slimmer than automatic movements.
3. The Bond - for watch lovers, the true beauty of a hand-wound movement is the incredibly satisfying feeling of winding the watch. Each turn supplying power and energy which will drive the watch throughout the day and night, while deepening the bond you feel with your chosen timepiece.
In a world of soulless, disposable smart watches, there is something truly wonderful about a smooth-sweeping mechanical watch movement. Hundreds of tiny parts, whirring in perfect balance to keep incredibly accurate time. Our chosen Sellita SW215-1 Elaboré movement is a microcosm of perfection which, if cared for, will last a lifetime.
Colour Matched Date Wheel
The Veli features a bespoke colour matched date wheel as part of the Sellita SW215-1 Elaboré movement. The colour matching and central positioning of the date window enabled us to seamlessly integrate the date wheel into the dial.
As watch designers we love steel case-backs, they present a large inviting space to further the ambience of the watch. Thankfully all 1950s watches feature steel case-backs. The Veli case-back features a winged man, flying upwards towards a burning sun. The sun on the rear of the watch, echoes the Veli's sunburst dial. The winged man represents man's shared desire to achieve, better himself and strive for freedom of mind and action.
The VAPAUS Veli is a Swiss Made watch. Throughout the world the reputation of Swiss Made watches is unrivalled. Know-how, impeccable quality, aesthetic prowess, technical innovation: the indication Swiss Made reflects all this, and much more.
In order to display this famous label, a watch must meet the legal requirements of Swiss Made, including a Swiss movement, the movement being assembled in its case in Switzerland and final inspection of the watch being carried out in Switzerland to ensure that the watch meets the high standards that Swiss Made has come to signify.
THE SPIRIT OF THE 1950s - Tomorrowland and beyond
Our design brief incorporated not just the design aesthetic, but also the spirit of the 1950s. The 50s were a time of tremendous optimism and rapidly growing prosperity in the western world. The space race, seeped into the 1950s home by way of the cathode ray tube, radio and print. Googie architecture flourished — whilst Jules Verne and H. G. Wells dreamed of a Tomorrowland of ideas. In designing the Veli we sought to capture the zeitgeist of the time, not simply by imitating past design, but instead, by opening our minds to taking on influences of depictions of the future originating in the 1950s.
The hand choice of the Veli is a playful ode to these pioneering thoughts. The Veli is offered with either the classic alpha hands of the era (Veli 1950), or our signature syringe hands (Veli 2050). The 2050 hands, which we envision as a 1950s designers dream of the future of dress watches, have created a cult following among watch aficionados — enthralled by the juxtaposition between a classic and modern aesthetic; while the 1950 hands resonate clearly with the legacy of the timepiece.