After many months in the making, the VPC Type 37HW is here, and I have the distinct pleasure of penning this hands-on introduction. We often ask ourselves, “Is it impossible to be original when endeavoring to design a new watch? Have all paths in crafting this functional object truly been taken? Have we seen it in all its imaginable forms?” Today’s launch of the VPC brand’s debut model provides a resounding “no” as the answer to these questions. The Type 37HW is one man’s project to create his ideal watch. The vision happens to come from someone who has spent plenty of time around watches, both old and new. Consequently, it provides a fresh and well-informed take on watch design. With an uncompromising ethos and detail/quality-oriented approach, it redefines what we can expect from watch brands, regardless of how micro they may be.

Before we take a look at the VPC Type 37HW and its trio of debut dial colors, let’s start with the brand. Venustas Per Constantiam (or VPC) is a brand founded by Dutch watch journalist, author, and member of the Fratello editorial team Thomas van Straaten. You might have followed along with his 13-part Building A Watch Brand (BAWB) series here on Fratello. In it, he provides a unique step-by-step account of the process of creating the VPC brand and its first watch. Launching today, the first run of the VPC Type HW37 is limited to 300 units (100 in each color). I had the pleasure of having all three in hand and on my wrist. Let’s take a closer look and see what makes the Type 37HW a strong early contender for the best microbrand release of 2024.

Venustas Per Constantiam

“Beauty through restraint” to those of us not fluent in Latin. That’s the brand’s name and a cornerstone of its philosophy. But the quest begins elsewhere, and that’s with the idea of bringing an ambitious vision to life. Van Straaten set out to create his ideal “go anywhere, do anything” (GADA) watch without the constrictions of an aggressively low price point and its potential downsides. In his experience, most budget-friendly microbrand offerings, after a period of enjoyment, left him a bit cold. This was mostly due to several cost-cutting methods employed to keep the price low, whether it was finishing quality or the brands having opted for off-the-shelf solutions for bracelets and straps. Thomas decided that this was something he was not willing to do. And though this ultimately meant landing at a more ambitious price point, the results speak for themselves.

Design and typography were two other key elements for which Thomas refused to cut corners. The latter may have caused a raise of the eyebrows, but allow me to begin with the former. Thomas entrusted Max Resnick, a watch designer who has worked with some veritable industry giants, to put pen to paper, guiding the journey from rough sketches to a real-world object with equal parts beauty and function.

From the 37HW’s distinctive lug ledges and dual spring-bar positions to its curving lines, polished chamfers, and stepped dial, Thomas and Max meticulously considered every detail. Creating a final product that embodies the brand’s namesake creed was no small feat. Having been there for some of it, I can attest to this. Thomas would sometimes show me a before-and-after sketch or even two different colors that, to my eye, looked virtually identical but which, to him, made a world of difference.

A custom typeface

I promised I’d delve into the unique typeface created for the brand. Inspired by the hand-rendered typography on vintage watch dials, Thomas worked with designer and typographer Samuel Baker to develop a custom font from scratch. This didn’t involve carving the font out of wood and creating custom printing pads. In a digital world, specialized software makes it possible. However, the resulting unique alphanumerical fingerprint for the brand adds plenty of quirks and character.

You’ll be able to spot pointy serifs, a flat-topped A and number 4 (even a flat-topped @ symbol), an open 9, a short-legged K, and several more nods to the typefaces of yore. The final result is a new typeface with the name “Venustas,” visible on the dial, case back, and the brand’s website.

Placement also matters, and in a quest to find the perfect spot for the “Swiss Made” text on the dial, Thomas considered eight different possibilities. The final resting place is within the sub-dial, just above the seconds track. Crucially, it does not interrupt the track or break the visual balance of the dial. These are small details that you might miss at a glance but that truly go a long way.

The VPC Type 37HW

Now that you’ve gained some insights into the brand and its philosophy, it’s time to take a closer look at the VPC Type 37HW. The watch’s case measures a very wearable 37.5mm in diameter, 9.8mm thick (7.8mm, not counting the crystal), and 45mm from lug to lug. It also features a screw-down crown and screw-in case back, which help provide a 120m water resistance rating. Its domed sapphire crystal has an antireflective coating on the underside. Both the case and bracelet are made of 316L stainless steel and have a scratch-resistant hard coating rated to 1,800 Vickers.

The VPC 37HW comes in three dial variants. The first (and my favorite) is Dove Grey. It’s the most understated of the three, with a warm gray hue contrasting nicely with the darker gray sub-dial and outer dial ring and solid white blocks of BGW9 Super-LumiNova.

The second is Forest Green. This is by far the most complex and nuanced of the three. Its green shade shifts in the light from a deep, rich green to an almost khaki tone. In the dark, it’s almost black but with a distinctive sheen. The sub-dial and outer ring here are an even darker shade of gray, and the lume is the bright green C3 Super-LumiNova.

Finally, the most classic of the three is the Delft Blue dial. Not falling for the over-the-top shades of blue that many other brands use, Thomas has chosen a dark, deeply saturated tone. In harsh light, there’s almost a glimmer to the dial. A white sub-dial and outer ring combine nicely with the blue-glowing BGW9 Super-LumiNova.

Detailed, legible dials

All three dial variants feature the same two-layer construction and “one-eyed panda” layout. As I mentioned, the hour markers are solid blocks of Swiss Super-LumiNova. These match the lume used in the hands, with even the small seconds hand featuring a bright dose of the stuff. The dial’s texture is grainy and matte, which makes for a highly legible dial with a lot of depth and detail. It’s one of those you truly can’t stop staring at when it’s on your wrist.

The right engine for the job

Inside the VPC Type 37HW is a hand-wound Sellita SW216-1 caliber that keeps it running right on time. This version is a COSC-certified chronometer with high-end decoration and a 45-hour power reserve. However, you won’t see the movement because the case back is all steel and decorated with a beautifully engraved VPC monogram logo, which you’ll also find as a signature on the crown and the clasp. It’s a bold move to forgo a display case back despite having a movement that one could certainly put on display. However, it’s a decision that I respect and appreciate.

A great bracelet goes a long way

Speaking of the clasp, let’s talk about the bracelet. It truly displays Thomas and Max’s uncompromising approach and problem-solving ingenuity. From the 20mm end link, the bracelet tapers down to 16mm at the clasp. Its links are incredibly slim and refined. There’s something unique to the feel of this bracelet. It is both incredibly solid and elegant.

The central links feature polished chamfers on the sides. Overall, the design is somewhere between an Oyster and a President bracelet but not quite similar enough to make it truly comparable to either. Its twin-push-button clasp is compact, well machined, nicely finished, and equipped with a toolless micro-adjustment mechanism.

Integrating beautifully into the case’s hooded lugs, the three-piece end links offer a quick-release system with oversized bayonets. An additional set of spring-bar holes allows the watch to be worn on a NATO strap. These holes also make it possible for a two-piece strap to be set deeper into the case for a more seamless look or further out, in a more traditional manner, leaving a gap and the strap’s end visible between the lugs. Overall, the bracelet is comfortable and easy to size thanks to flat-head screws. It also has all the features you’d want, and its finishing is on par with the rest of the watch.

The VPC Type 37HW on the wrist

It’s all well and good to have an impressive spec sheet, but how does the watch look and feel in the hand and on the wrist? Well, the first thing that stands out is the level of finishing. It’s uncommon to see deep brushing and such sharply defined lines on any microbrand’s watch, let alone its debut model. From the vertical brushing on the flat bezel to the cleverly applied polished chamfers on the case’s lugs and edges, it makes for a beautifully considered profile and a qualitative product.

Besides the finishing, which is sure to be one of the first things you’ll notice, it’s also worth emphasizing how slim and perfectly proportioned the watch feels. This was achieved through meticulously pushing the limits regarding tolerances and design. At the top of the very low hand stack, the minute hand actually sits inside the domed sapphire crystal and above the bezel’s upper surface.

Once sized, the VPC Type 37HW is a real treat to wear. It gives a vintage vibe without falling into any of the cliches. Up close, many small details give it a ton of character. It has every feature you’d expect from a well-made modern watch. Its dial is legible, the lume is fantastic, and with a COSC-certified movement, it keeps perfect time. Size-wise, it’s spot on. I always found the sweet spot for a watch without a rotating bezel to be 36–38mm (think Rolex Explorer and Hamilton Khaki Field), and the Type 37HW fits in there perfectly at 37.5mm. I also appreciate that it’s truly meant to be a GADA watch. With a 120m water resistance rating and a screw-down crown, you truly can take it anywhere without needing to worry about a thing.

Incomparably wearable and versatile

I want to start this section with a comparison. I know what you’re thinking, but hear me out. In spirit, the VPC Type 37HW makes me think of a Rolex Datejust. For the sake of this example, imagine a 36mm Rolex Datejust with a silver dial. Make it one with a polished, non-fluted bezel and an Oyster bracelet. This is the beautifully balanced and versatile space in which the VPC Type 37HW exists. It’s undeniably sporty. Put it on a NATO or a two-piece sailcloth strap, and it has all the makings of a classic stainless steel sports watch. However, put it on leather, and suddenly, its elegant side shines through. At 37.5mm in diameter, it remains within the range of classic oversized dress watches. On the bracelet, it perches itself delicately on the knife’s edge. Context is what determines towards which of the two sides it falls.

Now, there’s a good reason for my titling this sub-section “incomparably wearable and versatile.” Despite my well-intentioned comparison, I don’t think it quite does the watch justice. And that’s not just because of the Type 37HW’s lack of date. You see, the Datejust is a great watch, but its range is slightly more conservative. The VPC Type 37HW is dressier, with a date-free dial and a traditional small-seconds dial layout. But it’s also sportier, with widely chamfered lugs, solid lume markers, and an integrated micro-adjustment system. It achieves all of this rather effortlessly without erring on the side of gimmicky. It’s a true testament to the quality of Max Resnick’s work and Thomas van Straaten’s ability to harness it in bringing his vision to life.

Final thoughts

Well, there it is, folks — the long-awaited debut of the impressive VPC Type 37HW. Whether you’ve been following along since the beginning or just discovered the watch today, there’s good reason to be excited. I was lucky enough to wear one for some time and photograph all three models, and I was seriously impressed. My only problem will be deciding which of the three models I’ll eventually call my own.

An initial run of 300 watches (100 in each colorway) is available for pre-order now on the VPC website. The Type 37HW is priced at €2,479 (not including VAT or shipping costs). Delivery is expected within 7–10 months, and each watch will come in a hand-crafted monogrammed leather pouch. I can’t imagine that these first 300 will take long to sell out. You really don’t want to miss out on what may very well be one of the best microbrand releases of the year. But if you do, there’s no need to fret. Should all 300 Type 37HWs sell out, they will soon be back for a second production run.

If you want to know more about the Type 37HW or the brand, head to the VPC site. And, as always, be sure to let us know what you think of this watch in the comments!

Watch specifications

Type 37HW
Dove Grey, Forest Green, or Delft Blue with frosted texture, contrasting seconds sub-dial and outer ring, solid Super-LumiNova lumeblock indices, faceted and polished hands with matching Super-LumiNova
Case Material
316L stainless steel with brushed finish, polished chamfers, hard scratch-resistant coating (1,800 Vickers), and screw-down crown with uncoupling for manual winding
Case Dimensions
37.5mm (diameter) × 45mm (lug-to-lug) × 9.8mm (total thickness; 7.8mm ex. crystal)
Domed sapphire with antireflective coating on the underside
Case Back
Stainless steel, screw-in
Sellita SW216-1: manual winding, 28,800vph frequency, 45-hour power reserve, 24 jewels, Top Grade, COSC-certified chronometer with certificate included
Water Resistance
Three-row stainless steel bracelet (20/16mm) with brushed finish, polished chamfers on center links, three-piece end links, oversized quick-release bayonets, push-button deployant clasp with toolless micro-adjustment, and hard scratch-resistant coating (1,800 Vickers)
Time only (hours, minutes, small seconds)
€2,479 (excluding VAT and shipping)
Special Note(s)
First run limited to 100 units in each color, with delivery expected in 7–10 months