Off the Cuff: Vandaag Tiefsee

Each independent watch brand that comes into the spotlight does so backed by a story. Why was the brand created? Which gap did the founder(s) try to fill? What makes the brand different from the hundreds of other ones? Some stories are great, some are alright, and some are downright silly. Vandaag’s story—a North German independent watchmaker—is unusual. And it is what attracted me to the brand in the first place. One of the two co-founders, Tim, worked several years for a German multi-brand manufacturer. He got tired of seeing the same inexpensive watches being produced, watches à la Daniel Wellington and MVMT. So he decided to bring quality watch manufacturing back to Germany and created Vandaag (which means “Today” in German.)

Vandaag Tiefsee Microbrand Watch Review
Vandaag Tiefsee @mainspring.watch

The goal of Tim and his co-founder was to offer high quality craftsmanship and designs that are stereotypically synonymous with North Germans: humble, reliable, and straightforward. As we will see in this review, Tim and his colleagues hit the nail on the head with the Tiefsee, and taking a broader look at their catalog, we can tell that they are dedicated to upholding these values in every single one of their models. Before making the Tiefsee, Vandaag released the popular Schallmauer, a Mecaquartz chronograph which set in stone certain distinct Vandaag visual elements: a legible and utilitarian dial design with a flair–the latter being found in the date window with its white numerals against a red date wheel.

Vandaag Tiefsee Microbrand Watch Review
Sapphire crystal with ceramic bezel insert @mainspring.watch

The Tiefsee (“Deepsea” in German; learning quite a few words of German today!) is a diver with a strong minimalist vibe. The case comes in at 41.5mm in diameter, 48mm lug-to-lug, and 12.3mm in thickness. The lug width is 22mm which might not be as practical as 20mm, but certainly much better than 21mm (I have this weird pet peeve against 21mm lug widths.) The entire case is made of 316L stainless steel, the crystal is of the sapphire variant with anti-reflective coating, and the bezel is made of ceramic. Inside beats the Miyota 821A automatic movement which runs at 21,600 BPH (3Hz) and offers 42 hours of power reserve.

Vandaag Tiefsee Microbrand Watch Review
Predominantly brushed, stainless steel surfaces @mainspring.watch

The Tiefsee has a strong tool-ish appearance thanks to its mostly brushed surfaces, with the exception of the crown which shows an alternance of polished and brushed knurling. The watch does shine but at specific and strategic places: the crown, as we just saw, as well as the applied indices with their circular highly polished surrounds, and the ceramic bezel. It’s as if the Tiefsee wanted to be noticed but not in the way a Swiss luxury watch does. Lastly, the lume is of the SuperLuminova variety; however its reference is rather unusual: NCW1000. It glows like Rolex’s Chromalite—ice blue.

Did I mention the 200 meters of water resistance, screw-down case-back and crown?

Vandaag Tiefsee Microbrand Watch Review
Water resistant to 200m @mainspring.watch

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Specs

Case316L Stainless Steel
41mm Diameter
48mm Lug to Lug
12.3mm Thick
22mm Lug Width
Screwed Crown & Caseback
200m Water Resistance
Dial & CrystalSapphire Crystal /w AR
Applied Indices
Date Window @ 6 o’clock
NCW1000 Super-LumiNova
MovementMiyota 821A
21 600bph
21 Jewels
42-Hour Power Reserve
Strap316L Stainless Steel Bracelet

Vandaag Tiefsee


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Of Interest 

As mentioned in the introduction, Vandaag pays homage to the culture and traditions of the people who founded the brand. Taking a first look at the Tiefsee, we can notice the powerful sobriety of the dial design: all of the hour markers are round and applied, rather small, and the dial looks spacious and uncluttered. Text is kept to a minimum: “Vandaag” at the 12 o’clock and the words “Automatik” and “20 BAR” underneath the pinion. Let’s not forget the discreet indication of where the watches are assembled: “Made in Germany’ sits on the rehaut where we can also find the minute track.

Vandaag Tiefsee Microbrand Watch Review
Powerful, sober dial (Source)

What I find particularly interesting about this design is its simplicity, actually I would say its high functionality. The dial reminds me of the Junghans’ Max Bill collection of elegant and utilitarian watches whose primary purpose is to tell time, easily. In both cases—with Junghans and Vandaag—design clearly follows function. There is no addition of unnecessary text, or of markers being too large, no dial texture that distracts the eye from being able to read the time. And the wearer does feel he/she is in for a treat thanks to the polished hour markers and the reflections coming from the ceramic bezel.

Quibbles 

There are two things about this watch, however, which I would love to see changed. First: its size. The case dimension of 41.5mm is purely aesthetic and not functional, the latter being common for divers which are equipped with an anti-magnetic cage or shock-absorbing mounts. Given the simplicity and ample visual real estate of the dial, I would have liked to see the Tiefsee with a case reduced to 38 or 39mm in diameter. This would have also mitigated the inherent problem of the bracelet which has a 22mm width and that does not taper. Putting the case dimensions and bracelet together, the watch feels big and heavy.

The second quibble I have—and this is perhaps silly—is how the links of the bracelet are held together. Although it is a very secure system, they are held in place by two screws, one smaller than the other which is longer. In order to remove a link, one has to use two screwdrivers, and in my case a clamp. I found this system cumbersome and unnecessary as I’ve handled plenty of divers with links held together by a single screw that never came off. I understand that Vandaag wanted to over-engineer this part; however the watch could do without.

Luckily, the watch can be had with a gray nylon strap instead of the bracelet, and although I did criticize the width and construction of the latter, it is a solid bracelet. Given the fact that 22mm is a lug width that is fairly common, one can easily find a good strap for the Tiefsee.

Vandaag Tiefsee Microbrand Watch Review
Solid, “toolish” appearance (Source)

Final Thoughts 

Setting aside my two quibbles, I think the Vandaag Tiefsee offers great value for the money, as we will now see when looking at its retail price: roughly $380USD on the strap and $420USD on the bracelet. The Tiefsee also comes in three color variants: this matte grey, a matte blue, and a blacked out variant with matching black bracelet. At the end of the day, you get a well-made piece with a design that is rather uncommon for a diver. I think that what the Tiefsee does best is to offer something different and unique for a reasonable price. Too often brands charge extra for nice design, which is not the case with this Vandaag Tiefsee.

For more information, contact the brand website.


Vincent Deschamps is a museum professional, originally from France, with more than 10 years experience as a researcher, producing visitor experiences for national and international organizations. He is also the founder of mainspring.watch. You can follow Vincent on Instagram.


Off The Cuff articles are full-length, hands-on reviews of the watch in question and represent the opinion of the author only. All photos are original, unless specified otherwise. If you would like to have your watch reviewed on this site, contact us here.

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