VPC Debuts with the Type 37HW

A thoughtfully designed opening act.

Founded last year by Thomas van Straaten, VPC is a Dutch micro brand making its debut with the Type 37HW. Mr van Straaten, who formerly works for an Amsterdam-based watch dealer and now writes for media platform Fratello, started VPC with the goal of creating the “ultimate” everyday watch in his words. VPC is short for Venustas Per Constantiam, Latin that translates as either  “beauty through constancy” or “charm through restraint.” 

Featuring numerous clever details, the Type 37HW is the result of Mr van Straaten’s own experience owning, and later growing bored with, numerous watches that, in his view, featured compromised designs. He appears to have approached this problem forensically, considering everything from the bracelet end-links to the typography on the dial.

Initial Thoughts

The Type 37HW is an impressive debut that manages to stand out in a crowded segment of the watch market thanks to several interesting details. The central premise of the Type 37HW is that it is a “go anywhere, do anything”, or GADA, watch. Almost every aspect of the watch appears to have been designed with this use case in mind. 

The Type 37HW offers goldilocks proportions, and is unusually slim at just 9.8 mm thick (including 2 mm for the domed sapphire crystal). The svelte profile is likely possible thanks to the use of a manually wound Sellita SW216-1. Unfortunately, the combination of a screw-down crown and a manually wound movement – one with a relatively short 45-hour power reserve – seems at odds with the philosophy of a daily wear watch since it requires daily unscrewing and screwing down of the crown.

As a watch intended for daily use, the ergonomics were clearly top of mind for Mr van Straaten and the watch’s designer, Max Renick, whose credentials include designs for Roger Smith, Kari Voutilainen, Hautlence, and Maurice Lacroix. The dial design and colour choices are elegant and restrained, while the case and bracelet contribute to a sense of robustness.

Overall, the Type 37HW offers a compelling value at €2,479. While more sophisticated movements can be had for less from established brands like Longines and startups like Oak & Oscar, the Type 37HW is nonetheless a worthwhile contender in this segment. The Type 37HW stands out from a crowded field thanks to its rigorous attention to detail, impressive specs, and vintage sensibility.

One watch for every occasion

Everyday wearability starts with the 37.5 mm case, which features short, downturned lugs that should provide stability on the wrist. According to Mr van Straaten, the VPC team spent a lot of time iterating these case details, using 3D-printed models to optimise the wearing comfort, and as a result the Type 37HW should fit well on almost any wrist, and tuck comfortably under most shirt cuffs. The case and bracelet also feature an anti-scratch coating that increases surface hardness to 1,800 Vickers. However, it should be noted that such coatings, while enhancing robustness, do make refinishing a worn or damaged case near impossible.

The slim case is just 7.8 mm in height; the domed sapphire crystal adds another 2 mm.

Contributing to a good fit, the bracelet offers tool-less micro-adjustment in the clasp. And what initially appears to be a simple three-link bracelet is actually a proprietary design that boasts some unexpected features and design choices. Most significant is the way in which the bracelet fits against the case. The bracelet end-links were designed to fit under a shallow hood to create the visual illusion that the bracelet is flowing uninterrupted through the case. To enhance this visual effect, the end-links are actually constructed of three pieces, rather than a single piece as is the industry norm. 

The bracelet also tapers nicely from 20 mm at the lugs to 16 mm at the clasp, and features screwed links, a more elegant and user-friendly alternative to the pinned links that are common at this price point. The bracelet can also be removed without tools thanks to quick-release spring bar tabs under the end-links. 

Achieving these specs at this price point is a tall order; even established independent brands often struggle to get bracelets right. It remains to be seen whether the bracelet lives up to its specs in the metal, particularly where the fit and finish of the bracelet are up to scratch.

VPC has carefully considered the strap options as well. When the bracelet is removed, users have two sets of lug holes to choose from. The positions of the holes are designed to allow a thin strap to fit under the lug hood, for a completely seamless look, while the second set can accommodate thicker straps for a more traditional look.

Thoughtful typography

At launch, the VPC Type 37HW will be available with grey, blue, or green dial options. Each color is paired with a contrasting small seconds register in either dark grey or white. All three options are appealing, but the strikingly monochrome aesthetic of the grey dial stands out.

The “Venustas Per Constantiam” wordmark on the dial is also interesting, rendered in a bespoke serif typeface created for VPC by freelance graphic designer Samuel Baker. This typeface is meant to evoke the quirky fonts often found on vintage watches, and it succeeds. And while the Type 37HW does not feature any numerals, the typeface designed by Mr Baker does include numerals as well, enabling VPC to maintain visual consistency should future models include date windows or other design elements that require numbers.

Behind the solid, screw-down case back is a chronometer-certified Sellita SW216-1. This manually wound caliber helps the Type 37HW achieve its impressive slimness, but it is probably the one thing I’d change about the watch. This is due to the fact that the watch features a screw-down crown, and the SW216-1 has a relatively short power reserve of just 45 hours. 

While these facts may seem unrelated, this means the crown will need to be unscrewed for winding every other day, which is both tedious and will increase wear on the threads of the crown tube. In this context, it’s worth mentioning an alternative that offers a similar degree of aesthetic consistency, but with an automatic Sellita SW300: the Oak & Oscar Olmsted. Available in similar dial colours and featuring its own custom typeface, the Olmsted is just 1 mm thicker than the Type 37HW, despite its automatic movement.

Key facts and price

VPC Type 37HW

Diameter: 37.5 mm
Height: 9.8 mm
Material: Stainless steel
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 120 m

Movement: Sellita SW216-1
Functions: Hours, minutes, and seconds
Winding: Manual wind
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz)
Power reserve: 45 hours

Strap: Stainless steel bracelet

Limited edition: No, but the initial production run will be a numbered edition of 300 pieces, with 100 in each dial colour
Availability: Presale opens at 14:00 CET on March 7, with delivery at end 2024
Price: €2,479 (excluding taxes)

For more, visit vpcwatch.com.


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