Home Watch Types Automatic Votum claws itself out of the history books with new models

Votum claws itself out of the history books with new models

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There are a lot of vintage brands out there that have lain unused. Here’s what happens when they come out of cryogenic sleep.

Votum used to make watches in the heyday of Swiss watchmaking, from 1962 up until the 70s. They were fairly short-lived, but did make some nice pieces. This year, two Swiss designers are reviving the brand and putting their own modern spin on it.

The quintessential Votum
The quintessential Votum

What they’ve done right is use an ETA 2824-2 or a Sellita SW221 or 260 depending on the watch model. There’s no doubt these are Swiss made. They’re lumed with SuperLuminova and vary between 41.5 and 42mm in diameter, with a sapphire crystal covering the dial. All in all, they’re nicely specced and well worth a look. But I’m a little concerned.

Here’s where it goes a bit wrong for me: they have a Heritage model which is meant to pay homage to one of the original Votum watches. I wish they’d made a more sincere homage. The original Votum logotype is excellent. The new Votum “V” symbol looks out of place to me. The original had lines bisecting the dial at 11, 10, 8, and 7 o’clock, with applied indices at the four cardinal directions. It was a simple, tasteful look that I’d happily wear today. The new Heritage has the lines at 1, 3, and 5, with a minute track and lume dots instead of markers at 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12. On the new Heritage, they sign the dial twice, once below the 12 position with the “V” and again above the 6 position with “VOTUM”. It’s a lot more busy, and a lot less interesting to me.

A reenvisioning of the quintessential Votum
A reenvisioning of the quintessential Votum

The other watches continue along this theme. The Mechanical Date watch has similar woes. The watch has a rotating bezel marked 1 through 31, that you rotate to indicate the date. Votum desribe this as a “…shear[sic] wonder of imagination. A new intricate feature never imagined and never used before. The Mechanical Date is a true innovation in terms of usability and unicity with is rotating date bezel.”

A vintage Votum Divimat
A vintage Votum Divimat

“The Mechanical Date bezel allows you to quickly adjust the date without the use of the crown. You can manually swipe from the 30th day of the month directly to the first day of the new month.” First of all, you don’t swipe to adjust the date, you rotate the bezel. Second, a rotating bezel is not a sheer wonder of imagination, whether it’s indicating minutes on a diver, degrees of a compass, or days of a month. The Mechanical Date has a faux-GMT-style date hand which changes position once a day to point at the bezel. If you need to adjust the date for a month like February, you can rotate the bezel from 28 to March 1 without needing to use the crown.  Votum writes that the Mechanical Date watch is inspired by the Votum Divimat from the 60s. I can hardly believe it, because these things look nothing alike. They could have used the wide metal indices, could have used the beautiful blue sunray finished dial or could have made reference to any of the parts of the old model. It’s hard to see where the old models inspired the new at all.

Rotate that date bezel... daily!
Rotate that date bezel… daily!

The New Classic has a date window that shows three dates, a modern trend of sorts. It has concentric circles inside the hour markers, completing the arc that the date window begins. These circles appear from time to time on other watches, as does the larger date window. The stick markers are on the odd numbers, and evens get arabic numerals. Here too, the dial is signed twice, with the “V” and “VOTUM” text.votum-watches-new-classic

There’s a model named Elegance, which has a seconds subdial at the 6 position. It, too, is signed twice on the dial, V at the 12 and VOTUM at 9 o’clock. The seconds subial is labeled “sec.” If I’m honest, it seems like it’s over-labeled, and doesn’t appear nearly as elegant as it could.

The watches themselves are well appointed, with stainless steel cases, stainless bracelets or leather, sapphire crystals, and Swiss movements. It’s just a shame that the hands aren’t quite long enough, the vintage models aren’t well enough represented in the modern watches they inspire, and the dials apparently need to be signed multiple times. If I had to summarize, I’d say, in our rush to adopt the new, we should be mindful of that which we’re giving up.

Watch Overview

  • Brand & Model: Votum Heritage
  • Price: Earlybird pricing starts at $510 (550 for steel)
  • Who we think it might be for: You like a modern take on a vintage look that was firmly suited for its time.
  • Would I buy one for myself based on what I’ve seen?: Not at this point – I like the look of the originals better than the modern result
  • If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: Be a little more faithful to the original inspiration
  • What spoke to me the most about this watch: Quality of materials and manufacture.

Tech Specs from Votum

  • Case size: 41.5mm (48.5mm lug-to-lug)
  • Case material: steel
  • Crystal: flat, sapphire
  • Strap: leather, alligator, pin buckle clasp, or stainless bracelet
  • Movement: Swiss-made ETA 2824-2

Watch Overview

  • Brand & Model: Votum New Classic
  • Price: Earlybird pricing starts at $707 (766 on steel)
  • Who we think it might be for: You like a watch with the large 3 day date window, and arabic numerals
  • Would I buy one for myself based on what I’ve seen?: No. The leather strap is nice, but the dial doesn’t resonate with me.
  • If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: Make the hands longer, please.
  • What spoke to me the most about this watch: Swiss movement, and a genuine leather strap.

Tech Specs from Votum

  • Case size: 41.5mm (48.5mm lug-to-lug)
  • Case material: steel
  • Crystal: flat, sapphire
  • Strap: leather, pin buckle clasp, or stainless bracelet
  • Movement: Swiss-made ETA 2824-2

Watch Overview

  • Brand & Model: Votum Elegance
  • Price: Earlybird pricing starts at $911 (970 for steel)
  • Who we think it might be for: You like to change things about on your watch, but haven’t quite gotten to be a full-blown customizer
  • Would I buy one for myself based on what I’ve seen?: Not at this point – once the platform expands, then perhaps
  • If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: Anything that can be done to slim it down
  • What spoke to me the most about this watch: The promise of modularity

Tech Specs from Votum

  • Case size: 41.5mm (48.5mm lug-to-lug)
  • Case material: steel
  • Crystal: flat, sapphire
  • Strap: leather, pin buckle clasp, or stainless bracelet
  • Movement: Swiss-made Sellita SW260

Watch Overview

  • Brand & Model: Votum Mechanical Date
  • Price: Earlybird pricing starts at $849 (908 on steel)
  • Who we think it might be for: You like a GMT-like look, but have no need for a second time zone – setting date watches annoys you.
  • Would I buy one for myself based on what I’ve seen?: Not especially.
  • If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: consider hour indices like the older models.
  • What spoke to me the most about this watch: there’s a gray dial option.

Tech Specs from Votum

  • Case size: 42mm (48.5mm lug-to-lug)
  • Case material: steel
  • Crystal: flat, sapphire
  • Strap: leather, pin buckle clasp, steel
  • Movement: Swiss-made Sellita SW221

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5 COMMENTS

  1. I actually like the Heritage model a lot, and the reference to the original is clear. I prefer this over simple “homage” as a euphemism for “imitation”.

    What I’m missing however is clear pictures of prototypes. It’s hard to judge a watch from head-on pics and renders, but at least with existing brands you have an idea of what you’re getting. Also, I find it hard to trust a Kickstarter project that can’t show that they’ve done extensive work up front before asking for my money to go into production.

    And with so many models in the pipeline (why not start with one), this just seems lazy an barely past the idea stage. It screams “we have business idea to make money” rather than “we have a passion for making watches”.

    I would love to see how the Heritage turns out though, especially the blue dial.

    • You’re right – there’s faithful homage, where I’d hope to see the characteristics of the original preserved with very few updates, and there’s homage as tribute, with more liberties taken. I believe the liberties they took didn’t work out that well. I’d have much preferred a faithful homage to the classic version, and more classic cues on some of the others.

      I also agree with you, they’re ambitious launching this many models out of the gate. It appears to me that there are two cases here, the Heritage/New Classic/Elegance and the Mechanical Date case. The rest is just ‘which movement and dial to pull out of the parts bin.’ Because they’ve reused much of the parts, it’s probably easier to launch multiple models, especially as they have the pre-orders to dictate parts ordering, rather than having to forecast.

  2. You seem to suggest the mechanical date has a fixed date hand. My understanding is that the date complication was fully functional, but that you could also quickly adjust via the bezel.

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