Hello everyone, and welcome to another Singaporean review! On this shiok Saturday, I’m reviewing a couple of straps from local strap label, Vario.
Personally, Vario is one of my favourite strap labels, at least for off-the-rack straps. I think they provide great value, and offers unique designs. Let’s take a look at some of the straps that the brand sent me, and see if they are any good!
Vario – the Brand
I’ve previously covered Vario as a brand in my previous review of the Vario Empire. If you haven’t already yet done so, you can read the review here. While Vario sells straps primarily, they do also offer their own line of watches. I personally really liked the Vario Empire, so I’ll encourage you guys to check out the review above!
First, let’s take a look at Vario’s silicone watch strap.
According to Vario, their silicone straps are “manufactured from high-grade silicone rubber with high tensile strength, making it a favorite among watch lovers looking for an alternative to fabric, leather, or metal-based watch straps.” The brand further states that the straps pair well with both traditional watches as well as smartwatches.
I found the Vario silicone strap to be one of the most comfortable silicone strap I’ve ever tried. When it comes to rubber/silicone straps, they either feel too stiff, or too flimsy. This one hits the perfect balance. It’s pretty versatile too – I paired it on my Humism Daesin (I thought the black strap matched the watch’s monochrome design), as well as an old Timex Expedition I have when for a run.
Being silicone, the strap is actually waterproof, which means that you can pair it with a dive watch and take it out into the pool or beach. It’s pretty easy to clean as well! Overall, I really liked the silicone strap from Vario. It looks rather unassuming, but it’s comfortable, waterproof, versatile and durable.
Next, let’s take a look at their elastic nylon NATO strap.
Vario states that their elastic nylon NATO straps “provides the strength and durability of standard NATO, but fits snugly on your wrist”. Comfort seems to be the name of the game here – the brand confidently states: “This may be your most comfortable nylon strap ever.”
I have to say, I agree. The Vario elastic nylon NATO strap has to be the most comfortable NATO strap I’ve ever worn. Usually, I’m not a big fan of NATO straps. If you follow my social media, you would realise that I very rarely post myself wearing watches on NATO straps. I just don’t find them comfortable – either the material is too coarse, or it makes the watch bulky on the wrist. Due to its elasticity, the Vario elastic nylon NATO strap ensures that it stays comfortable on the wrist even after long hours. Furthermore, it’s a single pass strap, so there’s no bunching of fabric and the watch will still feel close to the wrist.
I found the hardware to be pretty sturdy as well, brushed finished to complement the brushed case of my Phoibos Great Wall perfectly. The stitching is clean and tidy too, with no fraying or loose threads visible. Really impressed by the quality here!
The best part about the Vario elastic nylon strap? It comes in a whopping 14 different colours, so you can be certain there’s a variation that fits your watch. Let’s be honest – my baby blue Phoibos Great Wall is not the easiest watch to find a strap for, so I was immensely pleased that I was able to find such a great match from Vario. It has comfort, and it has style – what more can I ask for?
If NATO straps are not to your liking, Vario also has Zulu straps!
For those uninitiated with the material, Cordura is one of the most durable fabric materials available today, and is widely used in the military due to their high resistance to wear, tear and abrasions. According to Vario, their single pass cordura straps are “made from 1000D CORDURA® –a heavy-duty nylon weave that can stand up to the toughest weather and outdoor conditions and come out unscathed”.
This is definitely one tough fabric. Its strength and texture reminded me of my army ILBV. Although I didn’t put the Klein Otus through any adverse situations, I have no doubt that the Vario cordura zulu strap will outlive the watch. Personally, I think the strap is best paired with a rugged field or dive watch – I imagine it would suit a Luminox very well.
While the cordura zulu strap itself is pretty thick, it is actually quite comfortable on the skin! This is due to the strap’s cotton inner lining, which is breathable, lightweight and does not feel coarse against the skin. For those of us that have been through NS before, it really reminded me of the way an ILBV felt – sturdy yet (relatively) comfortable.
Again, the hardware of the strap is signed, and feels sturdy to the touch. There’s also some nice stitching on Vario’s cordura zulu strap, which adds a dose of refinement. Most zulu straps don’t feature stitching of any kind, so kudos to Vario for going to extra mile!
I definitely enjoyed Vario’s cordura zulu strap. It’s tough, and strapping it on my wrist I immediately feel a boost to my masculinity. Personally, I think the strap work best with dive or field watches, from a Timex Expedition to even a Panerai! My only knock with the strap is its price – at S$47, it’s not the cheapest zulu strap around. A big aspect of that price is undoubtedly due to the high cost of cordura fabric, but it begs the question whether one really needs a cordura zulu strap, especially considering the fact that most of us lead sedentary lives. I would say this – if you have an active lifestyle, and feel the need for a more durable strap, the Vario cordura zulu strap is one you should definitely check out. It is definitely one of the better looking zulu straps out in the market today!
If you’re looking for something a little more dressy, Vario’s signature Harris Tweed straps should do the trick!
Harris Tweed is a term more commonly seen in tailoring, so I’m glad to see Vario bringing it from the sartorial world to the watch world! Harris Tweed is hand-woven from 100% pure virgin wool, and has a steep history that can be traced back to Scotland’s Outer Hebrides. For more information on Harris Tweed, you can read this informative article here.
I absolutely adore the patterning on Vario’s Harris Tweed Herringbone Bone strap. I mean, look at it! Again, herringbone is a pattern commonly seen in tailoring, and – as a sartorialist myself – I love that Vario has incorporated it into their straps. To me, this is a great example of what a gentleman’s strap should be. The texture of the Harris Tweed strap is simply amazing, and unlike anything else. It’s immensely striking as well on the wrist – this is definitely one that will stand out.
Interestingly, Vario went with leather strap loops on their Harris Tweed straps for some contrast. I like the juxtaposition – there’s contrast in not just the material, but also the colour, which I find intriguing.
Vario’s Harris Tweed strap features a genuine leather lining. To me, this is my only real knock on an otherwise awesome strap. The genuine leather lining unfortunately feels a tad cheap and rough, with a slight cardboardy texture. I definitely would have loved to see Vario use better quality materials for the lining here, such as nubuck or sheepskin.
All in all, with the exception of the genuine leather lining, I really enjoyed the Vario Harris Tweed Herringbone Strap. In the Rolling Smoke colour varient, I find it to pair perfectly with my obsidian dial Maison Celadon Yue Fei. Moreover, there’s also plenty of other colourways and designs to choose from, a whooping 14 in total! Personally, I think that’s one of the greatest strength of Vario as a brand – there’s always a great variety of designs and colourways to choose from.
This wouldn’t be a strap review without reviewing at least one leather strap, so I saved the best – in my opinion – for last.
For their vintage Italian straps, Vario sources the leather from Italy’s Provincia di Vicenza – widely regarded as the home to some of the world’s finest full-grain leather. Vario also states that the strap has been “carefully treated to provide stain and water resistance”, and requires no break-in period – you get a lovely vintage look right out of the box.
I must say, I think the texture of Vario’s vintage Italian straps are simply stunning. They remind me of Jean Rousseau’s pebbled calf straps, the ones Theo & Harris are selling – albeit at a much lower price point. It comes out of the box looking like it has already developed some patina, and the pebbled grain texture is a lovely complement to any dress watch. I like the cream stitching on this variant too – adds a touch of class to the strap.
Fortunately, the leather lining is better on the vintage Italian leather strap than it was on the Harris Tweed strap. The lining here is supple, and comfortable to the touch – no complaints here! Additionally, the strap loops are stitched for better durability. Lastly, the strap also comes with quick-release spring bars, allowing you to change out your strap in a matter of seconds. I’m a huge fan of quick-release spring bars – they should be on every watch strap, in my opinion!
Overall, I love the vintage Italian watch strap by Vario. The texture is simply brilliant, and it really resembles straps that are more than thrice its price. I think the vintage Italian watch strap from Vario is a great value proposition for those that don’t want to fork out a ton for a handmade strap, or an exotic strap. I can imagine the strap being right at home with a vintage Rolex Datejust, or a modern-vintage reissue such as the Longines Heritage 1945. As always, the strap comes in a variety (10) of colours, so you can find one that fits your watch the best.
Conclusion – so Vario Straps “shiok” or not?
Definitely so. I love Vario straps – I honestly think they make some of the best off-the-rack (non-handcrafted) straps in the market currently. Their straps are by and large great quality, affordable, and comes in about a dozen colour variations each. Personally, my favourites are the Harris Tweed and the vintage Italian leather straps – there’s a sartorial vibe that the straps exudes.
For those interested, you can use the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” to enjoy 8% off all Vario products store-wide! After the discount, I think their straps are easy recommendations, especially from a value standpoint. In addition, the promo code applies to Vario watches too, and I highly encourage you to check out the Vario Empire watch (pictured above). Like their straps, the Vario Empire is great bang-for-buck as well.
View Vario’s full range of offerings here.
In all my reviews from this point forward, I’ll be including a new section whereby I’ll list some of the other reviews of the same product done by other platforms on the internet. Don’t just take it from me – it’s always good to hear from a wide range of opinions. If you’re interested in Vario’s straps, do check out some of the other reviews below!
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!