What guy can honestly say he doesn’t love Lego? Or model building? Anything from basic DIY to vintage car tinkering in fact. Watches though, they’re in a rarefied realm of their own, one where none but the most mechanically-minded dare to tinker. At least, that’s the general misconception. Granted building a movement is a step beyond the normal range of things, but some are intimidated by the prospect of just changing strap.
That’s certainly not the case with the Eqvis Varius. In fact, the seminal launch piece of the German-designed, Swiss-made brand is all about changing, in the most satisfying way possible.
The concept is pretty simple: a watch built with some modular components that can be swapped out to change the look. It’s something we’ve seen in straps a fair amount recently with quick-change versions from Hublot and others that pop out with a click. The Varius though goes a bit further, allowing you to also change the bezel.
I’m currently wearing it on a chunky leather strap with a bronze bezel, leaning into the whole steampunk vibe of the industrial-style case. It’s the favourite combo I tried, but not the only one. Until recently I instead had it on woven black strap with a carbon fibre bezel. Despite the same 45mm steel case it was an entirely different beast.
There are actually two layers to the bezel too, the curved top part and an underlayer separating it from the main case. That gives a touch more variance to what you can do – I dallied with a flash of gold there – but subtly so.
So how easy is making the change? Once you’ve done it a couple times, extremely. The Varius is supplied with a screwdriver for just that purpose, and the 8 bezel screws are large enough that you don’t need a loupe to see what you’re doing. Taking the bezel off feels a little stiff at first, but you just need to put some finger muscle in. I’d far prefer that than have it loose anyway.
Of course, there’s only so much you can change. The dial for example is always going to be the same – at least in this generation of Varius – and it’s not to everyone’s tastes. The two-layered sandwich dial works with my steampunk version, but far less so with other combos. There are a couple of other little details that could use changing (this is the first watch from Eqvis so that’s to be expected) like the crown which is spikey enough to be painful to use.
It’s hard to fault mechanically though. The engineering is impressive to say the least, even without the customisation, with that layered dial, skeleton hands and big, industrial case. The EQ-111 automatic movement is a solid piece of work too, solid enough in fact that you can clearly feel the rotor moving as you walk.
So will the Varius make you a watchmaker? No, far from it. I know my watches and I can barely slot a balance wheel into place. But it is satisfying and, more importantly, gives you options on how you wear your watch.
Now that this is done, time to experiment with a bright blue bezel and woven nylon. Might as well try everything.
Price & Specs:
- Model name: EQVIS Varius
- Dial/Case: Diameter 45mm x Height 16.3mm, made from Titanium grade 5, exoskeleton made from stainless steel 316L
- Movement: EQ-111 self-winding, mechanical movement
- Power reserve: 46-hour
- Water resistance: 100 meters
- Price: £5,800
More at: eqvis.net