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Vaer R1 Oceanracer Chronograph Review

Hands on Watch Reviews Vaer Watches

Vaer R1 Oceanracer Chronograph

With retro still being all the rage, Vaer has released a new line of retro watches, dubbed the R1 collection. Today I have one of those new models, the R1 Oceanracer Chronograph, using the Vaer lyre lug dive case, in 42mm or 38mm, sapphire crystals, two dial options, and a mecha quartz movement. These watches are inspired by chronographs of the past from the late ’60s and early ’70s, mainly Heuer and Omega models, and these new models are affordable at $399, have a nice pop of color on the dial, and look vintage without looking old.


  • 42mm Stainless Steel Case
  • Thickness without crystal 12.12mm
  • With crystal thickness 13.7mm
  • Lug to Lug 48.5mm
  • Lug Width 20mm
  • Weight 144 grams on bracelet
  • 10ATM
  • Screw Down Crown
  • Glass: Double dome sapphire with AR coating
  • BGW9 and C3 Lume
  • Movement: VK63 Japan MecaQuartz Chronograph
  • Assembly: USA

Price $399 


These new models are part of an overall R1 series lineup. The first in the series was released last year, dubbed the Racing Chronograph, and uses a blocky, TV-style case that I don’t believe they use for any other model. This past Tuesday (March 26th), they dropped the OceanRacer and Rally models, using two of their most popular cases, the field and dive cases. Essentially, all of the watches function the same and have the same movement and chronograph layout, and 100m of water resistance, but they all look different as far as case design, sizing, subdial shape, etc.
When it comes to sizing, it seems they have all the bases covered as these Vaer R1 Oceanracer Chronographs and the Racing Chronographs come in 42mm (as shown) 38mm, and the field (Rally) models are 40mm. The dive cases themselves are probably my favorite of the collection (and I’ve reviewed quite a few of the dive models and a GMT using this case) but I have to say I do like the configuration of the rally models, especially the tactical version.

R1 Rally in cream and tactical colors and Oceanracer Chronographs

The dive case is mostly unchanged here, except for adding cutouts on the case for Chrono pushers and being just ever so slightly thicker than the standard dive models, mostly due to the movement and hands, which increased the case back thickness. The case is still mostly brushed with a slim high polish chamfer on the top of the case that goes right into the twisted lugs.
The bezel grip is just as good, though since this is not a dive watch, it does not rachet as such, and this is a 60-click uni-directional bezel. The insert is matte aluminum and I think it fits with the vintage theme. Ceramic would have just looked out of place. The time-setting crown does screw down, though the pushers do not, as this is not an aquatic watch despite the ocean in the Vaer Oceanracer Chronograph name.

The dial layout of the Vaer R1 Oceanracer Chronograph is pretty straightforward in terms of its layout, this is a pretty standard chrono using the VK63 movement, so you can track your standard seconds using the bottom sub-dial and then you can track up to 60 minutes with the chrono seconds hand and 9 o clock subdial. Your 3 o’clock subdial does double duty if you will, as it’s a 24-hour dial as well as a kind of an am/pm indicator with the colors used. The only thing missing from this dial would be a date, something I am seeing less and less on watches these days. I don’t personally have an issue with it, and it would have probably cluttered the dial up, but I know many want a date on their watches.

Vaer R1 Oceanracer Chronograph

The dial color needs to be discussed though. Website photos over at Vaer depict what you see in my photos as a champagne/almost green hue, as more of a silver. Trust me, what you see in my photography and the video is true to life how this piece looks. While I cannot speak to the reverse color model of this with the all-cream dial, I will say this one has that champagne color to it. And I like this color, as it lends itself to that retro styling. When you look even closer, you can see the radial pattern done to the sub-dials, which stand out from the matte black dial. Also, I just love the sand-blast frosted texture done to the applied indices. For a watch that is only $399, there is a lot of attention to detail for this dial.

Vaer R1 Oceanracer Chronograph

As usual, the Vaer R1 Oceanracer Chronograph, like pretty much every Vaer watch is going to come with a choice of straps. Your default strap for this one is a black waffle rubber strap. To keep the price at $399, you need to choose either the khaki strap or the single pass nato. If you go bracelet or leather straps, the price will go up, with the most expensive being the jubilee which will set you back another $100.
As this is a sample piece given to me, I was sent a tropic rubber (not actually offered), an oyster-style bracelet, and a quick-release nylon khaki strap. The bracelet is fine, the same bracelet offered with other Vaer watches, but I don’t think it really suits this watch. I preferred it on the tropic rubber, but now I wish I had been sent the waffle strap, as I have a feeling that would have been my favorite. For reference, my wrist is 7.5 inches (19.05cm)

I have to be real here, at $399, being assembled in the USA, and coming in two dial colors and two sizes, it is hard to pick this Vaer R1 Oceanracer chronograph apart and find a negative. I think the only thing I could say would be that this case style is getting to be overused in my opinion. I know Vaer looks at it as a staple of their models, part of their core collection, but I called out Zodiac for this as well, so fair is fair. I’m just not sure how many people want to own the same watch case in different models, where it may be a different dial or complication, but it’s essentially the same watch. Now that could just be my opinion, and I am way off base. Vaer seems to doing really well, so I guess what do I know?
I appreciate Vaer for the continued models that are being assembled in America and I love that they are putting out these affordable models, some even much more affordable than this one, yet the watches are still very well made, without any corner-cutting that I can see.
If you want to see more, make sure to head to the Vaer Website.

Vaer R1 Oceanracer Chronograph

I've been an avid watch lover since the age of 7. Watches are not only my hobby but a passion. My favorite style used to be dive watches, but field or non bezel watches have been growing on me. When I'm not reviewing watches I am either cooking or with family and friends.

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