I first knew of the brand because of the Attivo-Duplex, which I did a short video on during its Kickstarter campaign. The Kickstarter campaign is over, but you can still order them here. While taking the Attivo-Duplex out on a spin, I noticed that Vesuviate actually has another travel watch, the more conventionally styled Volare GMT. The brand noted my interest and sent me one for review – let’s see if it’s any good.
Vesuviate Volare GMT – Video
If you’re interested in viewing some hands-on footage of the watch, do watch my Youtube review below:
Vesuviate – the Brand
Vesuviate was founded in 2019 by YK, with its name and logo referencing the famous volcano Mount Vesuvius. For the uninitiated, the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. led to the destruction of Pompeii. Its first model was the Attivo, a squarish time-only watch that was released to positive reviews and remains the best-selling model for the brand.
The brand describes its goal as “to create the ultimate tool-watch designed for people living an active lifestyle and engineered for those inspired by their passion for diving, flying, racing, sailing, sports, and more.” That makes sense, given YK’s background as a supply chain engineer and auditor. In fact, all Vesuviate watches are treated with a surface treatment that “helps guarantee the performance of [its] watches in the most demanding environments”, all offered at an affordable price.
Without further ado, let’s delve into the review.
Vesuviate Volare GMT – Build Quality
I’m pleased to report that the build quality of Vesuviate Volare is stellar.
Firstly, the Vesuviate Volare uses a domed sapphire crystal. As mentioned numerous times in my previous reviews, I’m a huge advocate of sapphire crystal due to its inherent scratch-resisting properties. I always look for sapphire crystal in my modern watches as it adds greatly to the watch’s durability. There are also five layers of anti-reflective coating, so one doesn’t have to worry about getting any unwanted reflections. In addition, the Volare possesses a water-resistance rating of 200M, rendering it more than capable of surviving most water activities.
Powering the Volare is the Seiko NH34A, which is essentially the Seiko NH35 with a GMT complication. It’s also the movement that powers the wildly popular Seiko 5 GMT series. Due to the similarities with the Seiko NH35, the specifications are similar: 41 hours of power reserve, 21,600 bph, 24 jewels, and an accuracy of -20/+40 seconds per day. It also has the Diashock protection system, but is not a “true GMT”, meaning that the 24-hour hand is independently adjustable instead of the local time hour hand, like in the Rolex Master GMT II. This makes it more appropriate for those who simply want to keep track of another time zone, instead of a frequent flyer who changes time zones often. Still, the movement is visible through a red-tinted sapphire exhibition caseback. Vesuviate tells me that it was mostly due to them wanting to add a bit of intrigue to the otherwise prosaic movement, and that it took a few tries for them to nail the correct translucency of the tint. I personally don’t mind it – it’s a good compromise.
However, my favourite aspect of the Volare has to be the bracelet. The bracelet is built from solid links – most bracelets at his price point (including Seiko) use hollow links – and has an overengineered clasp with a diver’s extension. The bracelet is genuinely the best that I’ve encountered at this ~S$500 price point, and it’s not even close. A fellow watch enthusiast handled the Volare for a bit, and remarked that the bracelet felt as well-made as the one on his Rolex Submariner. I know it sounds like an exaggeration, but I swear it’s really that good.
Another feature that sets the Volare apart from most watches in its price point is its case-hardened thermos-chemical treatment. This treatment is called Ion-Nitriding, which transforms the fundamental properties of various alloys – carbon steels, stainless steels, cast irons, titanium, 17-4PH, and Inconel – by diffusing nitrogen into their surfaces during heat treatment. The key benefit is a significant increase in hardness, with Volare’s case and bracelet rated at 1100 Vickers. In other words, the watch is practically scratchproof. I tried to scratch the bracelet with a penknife, and the bracelet escaped practically unscathed. Notably, this process is different from the usual coating processes like DLC and PVD, where a thin layer is applied over the metal, potentially leading to flaking over time or inadequate adhesion to the substrate. In other words, the heat treatment on the Volare will last, and shouldn’t erode substantially over time.
Last but not least, the Volare uses Swiss Superluminova BGW9 lume. All models have BGW9, but only this white variant features a full lume dial and bezel. You can see for yourself in the photo above – the watch glows like a lamp in the dark. My only knock is the date wheel, which is unlumed.
All in all, the Vesuviate Volare GMT has the best build quality of any $500 watch that I’ve reviewed. Its specifications are impeccable – sapphire crystal, 200M water resistance, Seiko NH34 GMT movement, solid metal bracelet, case-hardened thermos-chemical treatment, and even Swiss Superluminova. Highly impressive, to say the least.
Vesuviate Volare – Design
The design is no slouch either, though perhaps with a focus on practicality over style.
The Volare comes in a variety of colourways. Some of them feature a gradient dial (which I find more interesting), but this model has a simple white dial due to its full-lume nature. There are applied indices, which give the dial some form of depth. I also like the skeletonised GMT hand, which differentiates it from the regular hands. Furthermore, the red lollipop second-hand adds a pop of striking colour to the otherwise subdued dial. My only complaint is the painted nature of the light blue GMT hand – it makes the dial look a tad cheap.
The Volare also features a two-tone bezel, made popular by the iconic Rolex GMT-Master II. On this model, the bezel is white and blue, which I believe to be one of the better colourways in the Volare lineup. The 120-click bezel also features a sapphire insert, and is unidirectional. The unidirectional nature is unconventional, but I appreciated it as it prevents the bezel from being adjusted accidentally.
The Volare has a Submariner-esque faceted case, with crown guards for added robustness. The crown is a screw-down one and is signed with the Vesuviate brand logo.
The Rolex inspiration is further evident in the Oyster-esque bracelet, which features alternating brushed and polished finishing.
And like the Submariner, the Volare has a 41mm case size. It wears smaller than expected, largely due to the short lugs. On my 6.75-inch wrist, the Volare hits the sweet spot with zero overhang. It is also relatively svelte for a tool watch, coming in at just 13.7mm thick, allowing the watch to slide underneath a shirt cuff with no issues. If you’re on a business trip, the Volare is a viable option to be worn with suits/businesswear.
Given its tool watch status, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the Volare takes several design cues from the Rolex Submariner – arguably the greatest tool watch ever made. That being said, it doesn’t come across as a homage at all, though it doesn’t reinvent the wheel as well.
Shootout: Vesuviate Volare vs Seiko 5 GMT
If you’re in the market for an affordable GMT watch, the most popular alternative would most certainly be the Seiko 5 GMT lineup.
In terms of build quality, the Vesuviate Volare smokes the Seiko 5 GMT. Firstly, the Volare uses sapphire crystal, while the Seiko 5 GMT still uses Hardlex, which is significantly less scratch-resistant. The Seikos also has a lower water resistance rating of 100M (as compared to Volare’s 200M), while its Lumibrite lume also pales in comparison (literally) to the Volare’s Swiss Superluminova BGW9. Lastly, the Seiko bracelet is notoriously ratty, and lacks the robustness of the Volare’s heat-treated bracelet, which has solid links.
From an aesthetic stnadpoint, the fight is much closer. The Seiko 5 GMT lineup features the brand’s popular “5KX” look, which inherited the design of its predecessor, the iconic Seiko SKX. I particularly like the sunburst orange dial, which I find eminently striking. In comparison, the Volare’s Rolex-inspired design is more subdued, and slightly derivative. However, if you’re a fan of Submariner design cues, then the looks of the Volare may be more up your alley.
Furthermore, the Volare is substantially cheaper than the Seiko 5 GMTs by about 20%, despite being significantly better built. As such, the Vesuviate Volare wins this shootout for me.
Conclusion – so the Vesuviate Volare GMT “shiok” or not?
I have deep respect for Vesuviate’s brand mission, which is to offer robust watches that will withstand the trials and tribulations of any adventure. To that end, the Volare GMT is a triumph. It is genuinely the best put-together watch I’ve seen in the S$500 price point, with its heat-treated case and bracelet elevating it heads and shoulders above its competition. If you’re looking for a no-nonsense GMT watch that won’t break the bank, then you can’t do much better than the Vesuviate Volare GMT. I have no doubts that the watch will last me years.
Those interested in purchasing from Vesuviate can do so at The Shiok Shop, where it is listed for a discounted price of $500. Those interested in other Vesuviate models can use the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” to enjoy 10% off on Vesuviate’s webstore. As the icing on the cake, the Volare even comes with a faux leather travel roll – what’s not to like?
Dimensions: Width 41mm x Length 46.7mm x Thickness 13.7mm (At the apex of sapphire)
Case & Bands: Stainless Steel 316L case hardened to 1,100HV +/- 10% heat treatment
Crown: Screw Down, 7.0mm
Bezel: Sapphire insert, 2,000HV with 24-hour rotating unidirectional 120 clicks bezel
Crystal: 3,0mm thick Domed Sapphire Crystal 2,000HV inner anti-reflective coating (5 layers)
Case back: Tinted (red) flat Sapphire Crystal 2,000HV exhibition case back
Movement: Seiko SII NH34A (aka 4R34)
Power reserve: 41 hours (Typical)
Accuracy: -20 ~ +40 sec (per Day)
Frequency: 21,600 vph (vibrations per Hour)
Jewels: 24 pcs
Rotor Winding: Bidirectional
Anti-shock: Diashock Protection System
Bracelet / Strap: 20mm, Stainless Steel 316L case hardened to 1,100HV +/- 10% heat treatment
Clasp / Buckle: 18mm, SS316L case hardened to 1,100HV +/- 10% ratchet treatment
Water resistance: 20 ATM / 200m / 660ft
Indicators: Hours, minutes, seconds, GMT, date. Swiss Super-LuminNova BGW9, Grade A
Weight: 177 gm (complete with all the links)
P.S: Check out The Shiok Store here – it serves as a curation of my favourite products from my favourite brands.
P.P.S: Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wah so Shiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!
P.P.P.P.S Shiok is a common word Singaporeans use to express admiration or approval. As of 2016, you can find the definition of the word in the Oxford English Dictionary.